Why letting users know what’s in the drugs they’re taking is important as opioid deaths rise

From the CBC News article

With opioid-related deaths mounting across Canada, health experts are warning that drug checking services are now more important than ever in helping users make informed decisions — and one Toronto pilot program is helping to do just that.

Launched in October 2019, Toronto’s Drug Checking Service helps to keep users aware of the content of the drugs that they are taking by anonymously collecting and analyzing samples from five downtown harm-reduction agencies.

The funding for the pilot program is set to run out by the end of this year, but with volatility in the unregulated drug supply leading to the rise in deaths, some say this type of service — which is free and available to everyone — is crucial for users to be able to make more informed choices.

“We are currently the only drug checking program up and running in Ontario, so we see our service as a vital part of harm-reduction services being offered,” said Hayley Thompson, project manager with Toronto’s Drug Checking Service.

“[We] would like to see … drug checking being available in more Ontario jurisdictions, or Canadian jurisdictions for that matter.”

The program, which is funded by Health Canada’s Substance Use and Addictions Program and St. Michael’s Hospital Foundation, collects anywhere from 10 to 30 samples daily from the agencies, which also serve as safe consumption sites.

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