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Auckland students encouraged to get their drugs checked at free clinics on campus

8 March, 2023

Interview by Jessica Hopkins, adapted by Georgi Stirling

The NZ Drug Foundation's free and confidential drug checking service will be available at Albert Park's Caretaker Cottage in Tāmaki Makaurau tomorrow. Photo by the NZ Drug Foundation.

Listen to the full interview

The NZ Drug Foundation will be on the University of Auckland campus tomorrow, 9 March, from 3-7pm, offering their free and confidential drug checking service. 

The clinic will be held at Caretaker’s Cottage in Albert Park. 

Drug checking is an effective harm-reduction tool that helps reduce risk when using drugs by providing people with information about what they are really taking. 

Harm Reduction Manager Phil Glaser, who is running tomorrow's clinic, told Jessica Hopkins on 95bFM's The Wire that their goal is to help people make informed, and therefore safer, decisions about their drug use. 

Glaser said people can drop off their drugs which will be tested using a FTIR spectrometer. 

“We can look for any dangerous stuff in there, and after the results are in, we can weigh their substance to help them with doses, ask if they have any questions, and chat about how to be safer.” 

Regarding the confidentiality of the clinics, Glaser explained that the organisation does not take any contact details. If they find something harmful in the drugs, they will discuss with the person why taking that batch, in particular, would be harmful. 

Glaser clarified that they can't confiscate any drugs and that the decision is ultimately up to the individual.
 
“It's all about helping people be safer, not telling people what to do, and respecting people's choices and decisions, but just giving them the information they need.”

During O-week at the University of Auckland, several drug clinics were available.

Glaser confirmed that they have been seeing some concerning trends in cocaine and MDMA. 

Several cocaine samples brought into the clinics contained harmful fillers, such as Lidocaine and Benzocaine. Some cocaine samples were also found to be more potent, causing people to experience more intense and negative effects. 

In MDMA samples, synthetic cathinones were detected, which can cause people to feel nauseous and experience short-term insomnia. 

For those unable to make it who want to get their drugs checked or just have a conversation about drug use, Glaser recommends checking out thelevel.org.nz, where you can find a calendar of every event in your region. 

“It's all legal and confidential, the police are supportive of it, and we just really encourage people to come along and chat with us.”

Public interest journalism funded through NZ On Air