The first pilot scheme to monitor drug use at festivals and nightlife settings will take place at Electric Picnic.
The pilot drug monitoring programme will analyse drugs to provide real-time information on drug use at festival settings to reduce drug-related harm in Ireland.
The pilot programme will initially take place at Electric Picnic and will be implemented as part of the HSE ‘Safer Nightlife’ harm reduction campaign which was launched earlier this year.
The HSE aims to obtain drug substances at a designated tent and who choose to anonymously submit substances to a “surrender bin” so the HSE can identify and communicate if extra dangerous substances are in circulation.
The HSE will also be in a position to analyse substances of concern identified by medics.
A laboratory will be established onsite and if a substance of concern is identified, the HSE will issue information to the public in attendance of the event with an aim to reduce the consumption of these substances and possible acute emergencies.
This approach is supported by the National Drug Strategy, The European Drug Strategy and is within the current Programme for Government and HSE National Service Plan.
The pilot is being introduced so the HSE can gain knowledge on current drug market trends to improve harm reduction responses specific to nightlife settings.
Professor Eamon Keenan, HSE national clinical lead, Addiction Services said “We are currently very concerned about the emergence of new psychoactive substances and high potency substances which pose a threat to health.
“This project will provide us with vital information that we otherwise can’t access in real time. While this is a progression, the HSE messaging will remain clear, it is safer not to use drugs at all. For those who choose to, they should still follow the practical steps recommended by the HSE to reduce the harms.”
Mr Keenan said: “We will issue a series of health information on social media before and during the event, I encourage the public to follow drugs.ie and engage with our teams at Electric Picnic. It is important to note that our results will only be representative of what is submitted and this will not guarantee the safety of drugs across the drug market.”