Home > HSE drug trends update following ‘back of house’ drug checking at festival.

[HSE press office] HSE drug trends update following ‘back of house’ drug checking at festival. (06 Jun 2023)

External website: https://www.hse.ie/eng/services/news/media/pressre...

  • 97 samples surrendered
  • High strength ketamine, MDMA and cocaine identified
  • Three risk communications issued


The HSE has provided a drug trend update following a ‘back of house’ drug checking initiative at Life Festival as part of the HSE Safer Nightlife Programme.


A total of 97 samples of drugs were surrendered to the HSE over the three day period at the festival relating to concerns around ketamine, an MDMA pill and cocaine. The health risks associated with these substances were communicated in social media alerts via Drugs.ie and by Drugs.ie volunteers on the ground.


The HSE is currently conducting secondary analysis to further identify other components within the drugs.


Speaking about these initial findings, Professor Eamon Keenan, HSE National Clinical Lead, Addiction Services said: “Through the Safer Nightlife Programme a wide range and variety of different substances were surrendered to the drugs.ie bins for ‘back of house’ drug checking over that festival weekend. We issued three risk communications via the drugs.ie social media channels and our trained volunteers engaged with attendees at the drugs.ie tent, campsites and arenas.


“The analysis of substances at these events allows us to identify substances of concern, provide real time information in relation to drugs circulating, engage with festival goers and reduce drug-related harm. It is part of a comprehensive drug monitoring programme that the HSE Addiction Services are progressing.


“The HSE would like to thank the Festival Promoters of Life Festival for their support and engagement over the weekend which ensured an integrated harm reduction system was delivered onsite.”


Nicki Killeen, HSE Project Manager Emerging Drug Trends, said people who came to the Drugs.ie tent reported extremely positive feedback from the public who engaged with them at the event.


“We wanted to ensure that the tent was an environment where people felt safe and respected. While it is hard to quantify this work, we can say we were extremely busy for the duration of the event and received a positive reaction from attendees. Over 1,000 re-usable water bottles with harm reduction information on hydration, 1,000 lip balms and 300 re-usable tote bags with drugs.ie messaging were provided to attendees.


“The preliminary analytical results provide us with further insights into changing drug landscape in Ireland. We issued three alerts in relation to high strength ketamine, MDMA and cocaine in circulation. The MDMA we tested ranged from 50mg to 246mg in products showing the diversity of MDMA available on the Irish market. This confirms that the public can’t be sure of the purity and how they will react.


“We also had a number of submissions to the Drugs.ie tent from festival goers who’s friends became unwell. This meant we could apply analytical techniques to examine what substances may have led to these cases, providing real-time information for medics and those impacted.


“Looking to the future, our Safer Nightlife Programme has a central role in reducing drug related harms at events and in the night-time economy.”

Repository Staff Only: item control page