News

Australians say yes to pill testing, new poll confirms


Evelyn Lewin


21/12/2018 10:20:16 AM

The Essential Report has revealed 59% of people support a pill testing policy, with 17% opposing it.

Dr Hester Wilson, GP and Chair of the RACGP Specific Interests Addiction Medicine network, believes pill testing is ‘an absolute no-brainer’.
Dr Hester Wilson, GP and Chair of the RACGP Specific Interests Addiction Medicine network, believes pill testing is ‘an absolute no-brainer’.

The poll follows the death of a young man at a Sydney music festival this month. A further two lives were lost at another music festival in Sydney in September.
 
‘Pill testing saves lives – that’s the bottom line,’ Dr Hester Wilson, GP and Chair of the RACGP Specific Interests Addiction Medicine network, told newsGP.
 
The Australian community’s response to this poll therefore does not surprise her.
 
‘I think the public are sensible,’ Dr Wilson said.
 
‘The reality is we know that people do take pills. People don’t want to take stuff that’s going to harm them, they want to have a good time.
 
‘Let’s allow people to check their pills so they can be sure that they’re safe.’
 
Dr Wilson argues that statements such as NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s – ‘Pill testing won’t work because it will give people the green light to take substances which in the end could still kill them’ – are outdated.
 
She also believes that the current committee established by Premier Berejiklian regarding this issue is not diverse enough, and should include health and medical members.
 
Furthermore, messages such as, ‘drugs are bad, drugs will kill you,’ are not helping reduce mortality.
 
‘The reality is those kinds of messages are not true and people that use drugs know they’re not true, so you’ve got to have legitimate information that talks about the real risks,’ Dr Wilson said.
 
Dr Wilson advocates for a harm-minimisation approach, including pill testing.
 
‘We would prefer that people didn’t do these behaviours – just like we prefer if they didn’t do other behaviours – but the fact is that they do and we have to look at how we can reduce harm,’ she said.
 
‘It’s a no-brainer. It’s an absolute no-brainer.’
 
One of the concerns expressed by Premier Berejiklian is that the introduction of pill testing will result in more people taking drugs.
 
‘What would be horrific would be if you had such a regime, something was deemed safe, and you have multiple deaths as a result,’ she said earlier in the year.

NSW-ice-inquiry-Hero-(1).jpgNSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has been clear in her opposition: ‘Pill testing won’t work because it will give people the green light to take substances which in the end could still kill them,’ she said. 
 
But Dr Wilson disagrees with this perspective.
 
‘I don’t mind them taking them [drugs] as long as they’re safe,’ she said.
 
‘If you’ve got the information that you have got a pill that’s dangerous, you don’t take it. That would save lives.
 
‘There might be a few more people that take [drugs], but it [would be] safer.
 
‘The crazy thing about it, for me, is that legal drugs like smoking and alcohol cause far more harm – and yet they’re legal.
 
‘It’s about danger for me. I don’t understand why the politicians find it so hard to think through this.’
 
Matt Noffs, CEO of the Ted Noffs Foundation and Take Control Campaign spokesperson, agrees with Dr Wilson.
 
‘Australians know that our young people will continue to be at risk so long as our government declines to listen to the evidence,’ he said. ‘Pill testing is not a silver bullet, but it’s a common-sense solution in the face of kids dying and being harmed.
 
‘Young people have always experimented with drugs. Why is it now – when we finally have a way to reduce the inevitable harm that comes from using illicit drugs – that the Premier won’t even consider it?
 
‘Australians say yes to pill testing. It’s time for political leaders to listen to parents, listen to a clear majority of Australians and help make festivals safer for our kids.
 
‘Reducing the harms associated with these risks must be our first priority.
 
‘We are not asking the Premier to blindly adopt pill testing. We are asking her to listen to the evidence, consider it and listen to a majority of Australians.’
 
The Take Control campaign is asking people in NSW to sign an open letter to the Premier, urging her to listen to the evidence and rethink her stance on pill testing.
 
Pill testing in Australia first occurred at Canberra’s Groovin the Moo festival in April this year, where 128 attendees chose to use the free drug-checking service.



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Dr Stefan Preissler   4/01/2019 10:03:57 AM

pill testing is not perfect, but it the best option we have to minimise harm. Young people and festival goers experiment and will continue to do so. At least pill testing provides and opportunity to interact with people and assist them to make decisions that are least harm full. We as a society should use every opportunity to safe lives - pill testing is one of them.


Dash   30/01/2019 12:20:39 PM

Not surprised pill poppers are wanting it. If someone could test all my pills to say thier safer, I'd be doing it is larger amounts and a lot more often !!!


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