With debate raging nationally about the need for pill testing, three nurses have written to Nurse Uncut about why they believe it’s time for this important policy reform.
I cannot believe the opposition to pill testing on a number of levels. Irrespective of people’s views on the use of substances, people will use them.
Unlike alcohol and legal drugs, illicit substances require purchase via illegal means. Because of this, there is significant risk of contamination with harmful chemicals. Testing allows users to make informed decisions about the drugs they are taking. Having such vital information determines whether the drug will act as expected or have other potentially dangerous outcomes.
No one deserves to die by taking something that could be easily avoided through testing. Current evidence supports harm minimisation and testing is a part of this process.
The risk of overdose or individual reactions to substances will still occur, however the awareness of the contents of the substance can only reduce adverse events.
Our children and community members do not deserve to die through use or ingestion of something that is not what it is claimed to be, especially when such an easily validated alternative exists. Substance use needs to be a public health issue, with an associated framework – not a law and order issue for users. Mental Health Nurse, Illawarra, NSW
People should not take illegal drugs, but I live in the real world and support harm minimisation. Having worked in the Drug and Alcohol field before becoming a nurse, I know that people experiment, and unfortunately some do go on to become users. Pill testing needs to be legalised for people’s safety. Nurse, Sydney, NSW
There is always the comment put forward that people should not take illegal drugs. My question would be, why not? We need to critically think about why some substances are legal and others are not. Alcohol and nicotine are far more harmful to self and others than mushrooms, LSD and ecstasy. We, as a society are very quick to say “it’s illegal – don’t do it,” when I think we actually need to think much more about this. The evidence for pill testing is widespread. Pill testing is a very effective way to minimize harm. Drug and Alcohol Nurse, Sydney, NSW
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