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ID: 1196

Type of submission: Oral

Conference track: Advocacy

Topics: Harm Reduction for Non-Injectors and/or Stimulant Users; Safer Nightlife; Party Drug Harm Reduction

Presenting author: Rainer Schmid

Presenting author biography:

Chemist and toxicologist, scientific coordinator and co-founder of the Viennese drug prevention project 'checkit!', providing on-site drug testing.

20 years ‘on-site’ drug checking at music events: What did we see, what could we learn for efficient harm reduction?

Anton Luf, Karl Kociper, Rainer Schmid

Starting (20 years ago) in Vienna the on-line drug checking project ‘checkit!’ was then mainly driven by the ‘new’ drug ‘ecstasy’ (MDMA) in the techno music scene. To reach potential drug users efficiently a combination of comprehensive drug analysis with direct, low threshold individualized drug information by trained drug counselors was setup as harm minimization approach. The results from the late 1990 years show, that at this periode problems primarily arose from varying (low level) ecstasy tablets with (often) identical logos and from very variable amphetamine powders. By a reduced availability of MDMA a rising of piperazine derivatives as substitutes for ecstasy followed in the beginning of 2000.
With the advent of hundreds of new NPS since mid 2000, the chosen complex chromatographic setup for the 'on-site' drug checking, allowing to discriminate more than 120 drugs quantitatively, -although meaning an enhanced organizational burden- turned out to be a right choice: It is the only way to give exact information to potential drug users on type and purity of their drug sample, which allows them to make realistic risk decisions. It additionally provides exact estimations on prevalence of the constantly changing NPS drug scene. After thousands of drug tests we know that NPS seem to be by far not as prevalent in the eastern Austrian music scene (<8% of all tested drugs) as generally believed, and that they have been even declining in the recent past. Today ‘classic’ drugs as MDMA (and amphetamine, cocaine or LSD) -as 20 years ago- still are the drugs most looked for and their largest risks arise either from extraordinary high drug contents (>300mg MDMA / tablet) or from deliberate exchange by other (NPS) drugs, the valuable information to which potential drug users otherwise have no access to.