A group in University College Cork (UCC) planning to give out drug-testing kits to students have been refused permission to do so by the college’s authorities.
EchoLive.ie today reported that UCC Students for Sensible Drug Policy Society, which lobbies for harm-reduction measures around drug usage, had planned to provide students with single-use test kits this week.
In a Facebook post, the group said: “Due to things out of our control, we are not permitted to run the Drug Test Kit Handout events anymore.”
“We are so sorry to those who were hoping to come along and receive vital harm reduction information and a test kit with an explanation of its limitations and how to use it”, the post said. “The University will not let us hand them out until the HSE approves of them.”
The post continued: “We know we have been allowed to run these events previously, we are as dissapointed [sic] as you are. More information on what we can do to push for safer drug use for students in relation to the use of test kits will follow in the next coming days.”
EchoLive.ie initially reported that the kits would be handed out this Tuesday and Thursday in the college’s West Wing.
Chairwoman of the group Ruby Lawlor said: “A student will be able to use this 1-time use kit to test for the presence of a particular substance, and whether there are certain adulterants present. Some also test for the purity of a substance.”
“These kits do have their limitations”, she added. “Unfortunately this is the best that SSDP can provide for students that, no matter what would be taking drugs during Freshers Week, whether pushed to avoid them or not.”
The kits are not currently endorsed by the HSE. Recently, HSE National Clinical Lead for Addiction Services Dr Eamon Keenan said that such kits may not detect all drugs present in the substance being tested.
Lawlor called for a review of the HSE’s policy on drug testing kits.
“Young people all over Ireland continue to use substances without knowing the contents of them”, she said.
“SSDP believes in accepting the reality and doing what we can to reduce harms associated with substance use”, she added. “When the students come to collect these kits, they will be given a talk about how exactly to use them, their limitations, and other harm reduction advice based on the drug they intend on using.”
Last month, a Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) student died after taking an adulterated batch of ecstacy at the Indiependence music festival in Cork.
Jack Downey, aged 19, died in Cork University Hospital on August 4, two days after falling ill at the festival.
Downey’s parents have since spoken out about the dangers of drugs.
Speaking to the Sunday Independent, Elaine Downey said that “we can’t let what happened to Jack happen to any other boy or girl. People have to stand up and speak. The young people need to look out for each other”.
She added: “People should be willing to pull youngsters aside if they are doing what they shouldn’t be doing, even if they get a tongue-lashing for intervening. We are all too casual about what is going on among young people in Ireland. ”