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Pill testing or drug checking in Australia: acceptability of service design features

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-19, 09:50 authored by Barratt, MJ, Raimondo BrunoRaimondo Bruno, Ezard, N, Ritter, A

Introduction and Aims: This study aimed to determine design features of a drug-checking service that would be feasible, attractive and likely to be used by Australian festival and nightlife attendees.

Design and Methods: Web survey of 851 Australians reporting use of psychostimulants and/or hallucinogens and attendance at licensed venues past midnight and/or festivals in the past year (70% male; median age 23 years).

Results: A drug-checking service located at festivals or clubs would be used by 94%; a fixed-site service external to such events by 85%. Most (80%) were willing to wait an hour for their result. Almost all (94%) would not use a service if there was a possibility of arrest, and a majority (64%) would not use a service that did not provide individual feedback of results. Drug-checking results were only slightly more attractive if they provided comprehensive quantitative results compared with qualitative results of key ingredients. Most (93%) were willing to pay up to $5, and 68% up to $10, per test. One-third (33%) reported willingness to donate a whole dose for testing: they were more likely to be male, younger, less experienced, use drugs more frequently and attend venues/festivals less frequently.

Discussion and Conclusions: In this sample, festival- or club-based drug-checking services with low wait times and low cost appear broadly attractive under conditions of legal amnesty and individualised feedback. Quantitative analysis of ecstasy pills requiring surrender of a whole pill may appeal to a minority in Australia where pills are more expensive than elsewhere.


Publication title

Drug and Alcohol Review








School of Psychological Sciences



Place of publication

United Kingdom

Rights statement

Copyright 2017 Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Public health (excl. specific population health) not elsewhere classified

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    University Of Tasmania