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Home » Education » Will Pill Testing Prevent Drug Deaths?


  1. David
    January 2, 2019 @ 10:45 am

    Lets say we introduce pill testing, and this may save a few lives, or overall it may cost lives as it is sending a message that drugs are not really illegal, just kind of,
    Some pills that are tested as fine may kill someone, then what about the next party, anywhere, without pill testing, who is responsible for the drugs there? Sooner or later we have to take responsibility for our actions! My kids dont do drugs, I dont think they are that stupid, but who knows what friends and influences they will have in the future, maybe they will be tempted, and there will be one less barrier in their minds if the law/ government is seen to be condoning drugs.

    • Andrew Scholefield
      January 30, 2019 @ 2:58 pm

      Hi David,

      Thank you for your comment. I can appreciate your viewpoint and it was certainly one that I have held in the past. However, the research that is now available regarding harm reduction measures including drug checking/pill testing has caused me to change my mind. Testing people’s pills doesn’t actually “send the wrong message”. If it did, pill testing would increase drug use. However, what we do see in research is that pill testing can actually reduce drug use. For instance, in the recent pill testing trial in the ACT, nearly 20% of patrons surveyed after testing said they intended to discard their drugs, given the results.

      In conversations with people who are advocating to offer pill testing, there is one thing I have never heard them say and that is that the drugs they are testing are safe to consume. Often their purpose for existing and offering pill testing is to prevent people from consuming something that could cause them significant harm or death. They provide objective information about what is in a substance that is presented for testing, along with information about what the effects of that substance may be. This can serve as an extremely strong deterrent to people who are considering consuming that substance.

      I completely agree that people need to take responsibility for their choices. However, I do not believe pill testing ever shifts that responsibility. The person presenting a drug for checking is fully responsible for their choices, whether that is to purchase that drug, present that drug for testing, potentially consume that drug or deal with the consequences of consuming it. This does not mean that education and health care providers shouldn’t offer services to that person in an effort to reduce the harm that may result from those choices.

      Kind Regards,
      Andrew Scholefield