Alongside finding new psychoactive substances and evaluating their spread among partygoers through the use of drug checking, the BAONPS project sought to shed light on different aspects of the NPS phenomenon.
Why do people use these substances (of which little is known, included short and long term adverse effects)? Are they aware of what they are going to consume?
BAONPS project was interested not only on the consumption patterns but also in the meaning given to the use of NPS. Indeed studies on NPS users are scarce and consist mainly in prevalence-of-use rates, while motivations for consumption are little known.
Furthermore, the research aimed at providing insights about cultural meanings related to NPS use by comparing data collected in three different European countries, i.e. Italy, Portugal and Slovenia.
To reach the mentioned aims, a mixed-method research design was adopted, including a web-based research and a questionnaire administered in party settings and places with an intense night life.
Finally a document has been written on the news about the drug checking situation in Italy and the results emerged from the BAONPS project.
As a sign that this is the end of this project but only the beginning of this experience there is the recommendations for implementing drug checking, with a focus on the legislations hindrances, for whoever feel that this is a necessary health service and would like to make drug checking accessible to a wider range of people.
WS2 – SURVEY – Cross National Report
S. ROLANDO, F. BECCARIA, C.V. PIRES, H. CARVALHO, S. DOVZAN, L. CAMOLETTO, E. FORNERO
As the project focus was mainly on new psychoactive substances, in the light of the results we may
primarily state that the use of NPS, even in the party population (where it is higher than in the general population), is significantly lower than the use of other drugs – so despite their variety
they are not so commonly used. Furthermore, it has to be noticed that a lot of partygoers do not know NPS. Indeed, except for synthetic cannabinoids, most of respondents do not know the listed substances. It is probable that the low use of NPS is due to the fact that they are perceived as more dangerous than the classics substances, perception that is favoured by the general ignorance and misrepresentation around this argument, as the survey results’ show.
Finally the Drug Checking service is seen by the majority of the respondents as an important tool to have information about substances and know the potential risks link to their use, furthermore it is a powerful way to get in touch with those who are defined “unreachable target” – given them the opportunity to protect themselves from the harms that can derive from drug use.
Read more here
WS2 – WEB RESEARCH – Cross National Report
S. ROLANDO, F. BECCARIA, S. DOVZAN, C.V. PIRES, H. CARVALHO, X. REGO, J. PEREIRA
Different kind of websites have been chosen to be analysed in order to reach the point of view of groups with a different cultural background about drugs. The generalist forums which are expressions of the general attitude about drugs and their use, and the specialists one which are used by a niche who possess a wider knowledge and experience about the argument. It seems clear looking at the generalist forum that the drug topic is still annoying and “hot”, it carries a lot of negative representations and for this reason people tend not to talk much about it on this kind of sites.
Forums specifically addressed to people who use drugs, which we have called specialist forums, are places where people exchange information about many kinds of drugs, including also NPS.
Most forum members show competence and many suggestions provided by the forum members are harm reduction strategies indicating that many users are well-informed and confirming that that web forums are important platforms for awareness raising among peers.
Read more here
DRUG CHECKING: reccomendation for a pilot implementation & technique update – RAMAN Spectroscopy
E. FORNERO, S.DOVZAN, R.KOEHNLEIN, H. CARVALHO, C.V. PIRES, M. SANDE, S. SABIC, A.SALOMONE, H. VALENTE
Despite being almost unknown to institutions and professionals, a growing number of new synthetic drugs (from 41 in 2010 to 101 in 2014 and 66 in 2016 – EMCDDA) is produced for the illegal market and they are widely available. For some people, the use of NPS is a choice, but not for everyone: many NPS employ groups of chemicals giving effects similar to those of controlled substances, but it is very difficult to recognise NPS without a screening instrument that can analyse the contents of a drug.
Drug checking is an integrated service that lets drug users to have their synthetic drugs analysed and receive counselling (Ventura et al., 2011); in nightlife contexts it has been shown to be useful at different levels: early detection of NPS, harm and risk reduction for drug users, knowledge improvement for service providers and policy makers (Hungerbuehler et al. 2011); however in most EU countries drug checking is not implemented. This happens because of different laws but also because of some prejudicial concerns: organizers of musical events are afraid that allowing drug checking could mean admitting the fact that those contexts are connected with drug use while for some policy makers drug checking supposedly increases drug use (Hungerbuehler et al. 2011). As research has shown, a drug checking service can change consumption behaviours of drug users, especially when an unexpected substance is detected in the sample (Martins et al.2017).
The aim of this report is to contribute to the development of drug checking services in those (European) countries where the service is not carried out, by giving advice and examples based on this practice.
Read more here
BAONPS – ITALIAN DRUG CHECKING RESULTS
E. FORNERO, A. SALOMONE
From February 2016 to August 2017, the BAONPS project performed 33 outreach interventions and in 27 of them partygoers were provided with a drug checking facility.
Drug checking is performed by using the TruNarc – RAMAN Spectroscopy. The instrument can identify the main substance contained in a sample by analysing the RAMAN spectra produced by the substance. The identification of the drug is due to the comparison of that RAMAN Spectra with those contained in the TruNarc internal library.
A total of 472 samples, mostly powders, crystals and pills, was analyzed. Illicit substances were detected in 304 samples (64.4%). Finding included MDMA (106 samples), ketamine (87 samples), cocaine (51 samples), amphetamine (47 samples), methamphetamine (2 samples), heroin (2 samples) and NPS (9 samples).
Drug checking users were provided with counselling, following the models of other European drug-checking services, especially Apdes/Check!n and DrogArt, as best practices. The 28% (1 case in 4) of the samples analyzed turned out to be something not expected by the user: many people decided to avoid to take the drug (37%) while other were very surprised of the result and this brought them to reflect about the possibility to avoid taking the substance (14%).
Read more here
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