Drug checking is an evidence-informed harm reduction tool that allows people to check what’s in their drugs. Point of care drug checking services can test a range of substances, including opioids, stimulants, and other psychoactive drugs such as MDMA. Available in overdose prevention sites, music festivals and other community settings, these services give people results in less than 10-minutes.
To better understand the impact of drug checking on drug using behaviours and its value as a harm reduction tool, an evaluation of drug checking services provided at community organizations and events is being conducted.
This study intends to evaluate the point of care drug checking intervention currently being offered at select supervised consumption sites, overdose prevention sites, and other health authority-sanctioned sites in BC through a mixed-methods approach.
Specifically, this study aims to assess the performance of two point-of-care drug checking technologies - the Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy - in the context of the overdose epidemic. An overview of technologies is available here: https://drugcheckingbc.ca/what-is-drug-checking/overview-of-technologies.
Additionally, the objectives of the study are to generate knowledge on the feasibility, uptake, and behavioural modifications that result from drug checking for the purposes of refining and informing future interventions, and learn about the accuracy of the point-of-care technologies.
We wish to thank the following partners and collaborators for their ongoing commitment to drug checking services in BC and Canada and for their support of this evaluation:
- ASK Wellness
- Drug Overdose and Alert Partnership
- Fraser Health
- Health Canada Drug Analysis Service
- Interior Health
- The International Centre for Science in Drug Policy
- Lookout Society
- Ministry of Health/Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions
- Provincial Toxicology Centre
- University of British Columbia
- University of Victoria
- Vancouver Coastal Health
This work is made possible through funding from Health Canada’s Substance Use and Addictions Program and Vancouver Foundation to evaluate a drug checking pilot project. Funding for this project started in March, 2018 and continues to March 2022.
If you are interested to learn more about the Drug Checking Evaluation, please contact:
Hadley Pearce, Research Coordinator, [email protected]
If you would like more information about drug checking services in BC, please visit www.drugcheckingbc.ca.
Beaulieu T, Hayashi K, Nosova E, et al. Effect of witnessing an overdose on the use of drug checking services among people who use illicit drugs in Vancouver, Canada. Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 2020;26:1-6. doi:10.1080/00952990.2019.1708087
Ti L, Tobias S, Lysyshyn M, et al. Detecting fentanyl using point-of-care drug checking technologies: A validation study. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2020;212:108006. doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2020.108006
McCrae K, Hayashi K, Bardwell G, et al. The effect of injecting alone on the use of drug checking services among people who inject drugs. Int J Drug Policy. 2020;79. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugpo.2020.102756
Bardwell G, Boyd J, Arredondo J, McNeil R, Kerr T. Trusting the source: The potential role of drug dealers in reducing drug-related harms via drug checking. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2019;198:1-6. doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2019.01.035
McCrae K, Tobias S, Tupper K, et al. Drug checking services at music festivals and events in a Canadian setting. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2019;205:107589. doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2019.107589.
Bardwell G, Boyd J, Tupper KW, Kerr T. “We don’t got that kind of time, man. We’re trying to get high!”: Exploring potential use of drug checking technologies among structurally vulnerable people who use drugs. Int J Drug Policy. 2019;71:125-132. doi:10.1016/j.drugpo.2019.06.018
McCrae K, Tobias S, Grant C, et al. Assessing the limit of detection of Fourier‐transform infrared spectroscopy and immunoassay strips for fentanyl in a real‐world setting. Drug Alcohol Rev. 2019;39(1):98-102. doi:10.1111/dar.13004
Bardwell G, Kerr T. Drug checking: a potential solution to the opioid overdose epidemic? Subst Abuse Treat Prev Policy. 2018;13(1):20. doi:10.1186/s13011-018-0156-3
Tupper KW, McCrae K, Garber I, Lysyshyn M, Wood E. Initial results of a drug checking pilot program to detect fentanyl adulteration in a Canadian setting. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2018;190:242-245. doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2018.06.020
To get access to research articles, contact us at [email protected].
To see publications from our provincial partners, please refer to the following links:
- Drug checking more common in people who have seen an overdose
- Limitations of drug checking technologies for drug checking in a real-world setting
- People who inject alone are less likely to access drug checking services