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
- Get Your Drugs Tested
- Health Canada Drug Analysis Service
- Interior Health
- Lookout Society
- Ministry of Health
- Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions
- Mountainside Society
- Northern Health
- Peace Project
- PHS Community Services Society
- 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.
This project also received funding from the National Institute of Health in September 2021 through July 2024, which will extend the project and allow us to evaluate additional objectives.
If you are interested to learn more about the Drug Checking Evaluation, please contact:
Alison Knill, Research Coordinator, [email protected]
If you would like more information about drug checking services in BC, please visit www.drugcheckingbc.ca.
- Crepeault H, Socias ME, Tobias S, et al. Examining fentanyl and its analogues in the unregulated drug supply of British Columbia, Canada using drug checking technologies. Drug and Alcohol Rev. 2022. doi:10.1111/dar.13580
- Beaulac M, Richardson L, Tobias S, Lysyshyn M, Grant C, Ti, L. Changes in the unregulated opioid drug supply during income assistance payment weeks in Vancouver, Canada: An exploratory analysis. Int J Drug Policy. 2022;105:103707. doi:10.1016/j.drugpo.2022.103707. [Epub ahead of print]
- Tobias S, Lysyshyn M, Buxton J, Tupper K, Ti L. Tobias et al. respond to “Novel surveillance of the unregulated drug supply”. Am J Epidemiol. 2022;191(2):253-254. doi:10.1093/aje/kwab234
- Tobias S, Grant C, Laing R. et al. Time-series analysis of fentanyl concentration in the unregulated opioid drug supply in a Canadian setting. Am J Epidemiol. 2022;191(2):241-247. doi:10.1093/aje/kwab129
- Patel P, Guzman S, Lysyshyn M, et al. Identifying cocaine adulteration in the unregulated drug supply in British Columbia. Can J Addict. 2021;12(2):4-5. doi:10.1097/CXA.0000000000000112
- Beaulieu T, Wood E, Tobias S, et al. Is expected substance type associated with timing of drug checking service utilization? Findings from a point-of-care drug checking program in a Canadian setting. Harm Reduct J. 2021;18(1):66. doi:10.1186/s12954-021-00514-3
- Laing MK, Ti L, Marmel A, et al. An outbreak of novel psychoactive substance benzodiazepines in the unregulated drug supply: Preliminary results from a community drug checking program using point-of-care and confirmatory methods. Int J Drug Policy. 2021;93:103169. doi:10.1016/j.drugpo/2021.103169
- McCrae K, Wood E, Lysyshyn M, et al. The utility of visual appearance in predicting the composition of street opioids. Subst Abus. 2021;22:1-9. doi:10.1080/08897077.2020.1864569
- Tobias S, Shapiro A, Grant C, Patel P, Lysyshyn M, Ti L. Drug checking identifies counterfeit alprazolam tablets. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2021;1:218. doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2020.108300
- Long V, Arredondo J, Ti L, et al. Factors associated with the drug checking service utilization among people use who use drugs in a Canadian setting. Harm Reduct J. 2020;17(1):1-8. doi:10.1086/s12954-020-00454-4
- Ti L, Tobias S, Maghsoudi N, et al. Detection of Synthetic Cannabinoid Adulteration in the Unregulated Drug Supply in Three Canadian Settings. Drug Alcohol Rev. 2020;40(4):580-585. doi:10.1111/dar.13237
- Tobias S, Shapiro A, Wu H, Ti L. Xylazine identified in the unregulated drug supply. Can J Addict. 2020;11(3):28-32. doi:10.1097/CXA.0000000000000089
To get access to research articles, contact us at [email protected].
To see publications from our provincial partners, please refer to the following links:
- Fentanyl analogues in the drug supply
- Drug checking more common in people who have seen an overdose
- People who inject alone are less likely to access drug checking services
- Change in the Opioid Supply During Cheque Week
- Benzos in the Drug Supply
- Fentanyl Concentration in the Opioid Supply
- A Report on British Columbia’s Unregulated Drug Supply: Drug checking trends across British Columbia (January to December 2021)
- Ma, R., Tobias, S., Long, V., Matthews, J. & Ti, L. (2021). Comparing Drugs Checked Across BC Drug Checking Sites. Report.
- A field assessment of Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) Spectroscopy and fentanyl immunoassay strips as point-of-care drug checking technologies
- Detection of etizolam, flualprazolam, and flubromazolam by benzodiazepine-specific lateral flow immunoassay test strips
Drug checking allows people to find out more about what is in their drugs, empowering people who use drugs to make better-informed decisions about their substance use.
Filmed at the Molson Overdose Prevention Site (MOPS) in Vancouver, BC, "What’s in My Drugs?" explains what happens when a person goes to a drug checking service.
In this short documentary-style video, different workers on site are interviewed, providing insight on why drug checking is an important harm reduction strategy for people who use drugs.
In loving memory of Ben Stevenson (1987 - 2022)