With drugs such as heroin, Spice, and other uncontrolled substances taking more and more lives every day, the UK needs to take steps to help prevent drug abuse taking lives, and offer mental health support for those in need.
A charity that deals with mental health issues and drug abuse in the UK, Addaction, has received a grant from the Home Office that will allow them to open the UK’s first licensed drug checking service in North Somerset.
“People who are taking drugs can come into the service and have a sample checked. While there, Addaction staff will talk to them about the support available to make changes to their lives, and, once they know what’s in the substance, give targeted harm reduction advice.” - Addaction
Addaction’s Director of Pharmacy, Roz Gittins, who has lead the project, said: “This is about saving lives. We know people take drugs. We don’t have to condone it but nor should we judge people or bury our heads in the sand. It’s our job to do whatever we can to help people make informed choices about the risks they’re taking. Checking the content of drugs is a sensible and progressive way to do that. If people know what’s in something, they can be better informed about the potential harm of taking it.”
Because illegal substances have zero quality control, users have no idea which lethal mix of cocktails have been used to increase the potency of the potential fatal concoction. By offering users the ability to check the safety of their drugs, they can drastically reduce the risk of death or serious health problems, short & long term. This also gives the charity a chance to connect with users and offer them support for their addictions.
A Home Office spokesman said: “The government’s approach remains clear: we must prevent illicit drug use in our communities and help those dependent on drugs to recover.
“Anyone interested in lawfully undertaking activities which include the possession, supply or production of controlled drugs (including potentially the service of drug testing) needs to apply for a license in the normal way. They would then be subject to the usual considerations, visits, and fees.
“A Home Office license was issued so approved research could be undertaken in Addaction’s clinic in Somerset in accordance with the terms of that license.”
Addaction also runs a free and confidential web chat service, staffed by trained advisors, at www.addaction.org.uk.
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