It’s time for a public drug testing service and a drug early warning network in Victoria

Published

April 9, 2021

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As a leading provider of alcohol and other drug treatment services to the Victorian community, Uniting Vic.Tas fully endorses the recommendations by Victorian Coroner Paresa Spanos to introduce a permanent rapid public drug testing service to reduce the risk of drug-related harm.

We support any evidence-based initiative that will help to minimise the risk of harm or death due to alcohol and drug use.

We believe a drug testing service will allow people to make more informed choices about their substance use. However, any such service would need to be coupled with specialised support and access to a range of alcohol and other drug treatment services to be effective.

A drug testing service would also need to be accessible, timely and staffed appropriately to ensure people felt safe.

The Coroner also recommended the establishment of an early warning network for Victoria to provide rapid alerts to the community when dangerous new substances are circulating.

An early warning system would capture data from a range of sources and provide timely information to the community on high risk substances. Uniting supports the introduction of these evidence-based interventions and is currently involved in a project looking at how to translate police seizure data into useful clinical alerts.

A harm reduction approach neither condones nor condemns alcohol and other drug use. It provides practical, non-judgemental support to people who are actively involved in alcohol and other drug use.

Many of the harms associated with alcohol and other drug use can be reduced or are preventable. Substantial future harms to individuals, families and the community can be reduced or prevented by providing people with accurate information and appropriate support.

Our alcohol and drug treatment and support services provide information, advice, treatment and support for people seeking to make changes to their substance use. We don’t want to see any more Victorian lives lost especially when there are interventions that could prevent these tragic deaths.

The Coroner’s findings were released on April 7 and are available on the Coroners Court website.

Find out more about our Alcohol and Drug services.

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