The head of the HSE’s Addiction Services has warned that drug testing kits give a false sense of security.
Dr Eamon Keenan said that such kits do not give an indication of the purity or strength of the drug being tested and could lead to someone taking a tablet which could lead to an adverse reaction.
He was responding to reports that free drug testing kits are being handed out on campus at University College Cork this week.
Dr Keenan told Newstalk Breakfast that the HSE could not condone use of the testing kits.
He said that the HSE’s harm reduction campaign “Start Low, Go Slow” was available on campuses with trained workers cooperating with university’s welfare and medical societies.
On the same programme, Ruby Lawlor, Chairwoman of UCC’s society for Sensible Drug Policy Chapter explained that the thinking behind the free drug testing kits is that students will take drugs any way and this was a safe way for them to determine if the drugs were safe.
However, she acknowledged that the testing kit has its limitations as it does not determine the strength of the drug identified or if adulterants or dilutants are mixed in.
“The problem is people are doing it anyway, the trend is that there is more drug use, we might as well try something to make it safer.
“If the test shows that the drug is not what it is supposed to be then it will have helped.”
To use the kit the drug is put into a vial of liquid which then turns into a specific colour which can be compared with a chart.
“If the colour does not match then they should get rid of the drug straight away,” added Ms Lawlor.