Majority support for drug checking services

A new La Trobe University study shows majority support for drug checking services with 56 per cent of the over 18,000 respondents supporting related policies.

Data from the 2019 National Drug Strategy Household Survey examined support for drug checking services, analysing between demographic, social, and substance use variables and the endorsement of drug checking.

Support for drug checking services was highest among people aged 25-34, with higher socioeconomic status, individual income over $104,000, bachelor's degree or higher, living in major cities, recent illicit drug consumers, and risky drinkers.

Further analysis revealed that younger individuals, women, and those with higher levels of education were more likely to support the policy compared to their male counterparts aged 55+ with lower levels of education.

Dr Gabriel Caluzzi, Postdoctoral Research Officer at La Trobe University’s Centre for Alcohol Policy Research, said the research sheds light on how people see the potential benefits of drug checking services when minimising the harms associated with drug use.

“Drug checking services have gained significant attention in recent policy debates in Australia, and this study aimed to better understand the level of support for such services,” Dr Caluzzi said

“We know that public support is a key factor for policymakers are they look to roll this out in their own jurisdictions.

"Drug checking services are already being trialed in the ACT and have received the green light to be rolled out in Queensland. With an update to the data due later this year, we will wait with anticipation to see how the data may have changed," Dr Caluzzi said.

Ecstasy, amphetamines, cocaine and ketamine were the most likely drugs to be tested at a drug-checking facility.

The National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) is a survey conducted every three years. It’s a significant research initiative aimed at understanding drug consumption patterns, identifying emerging trends, and evaluating the effectiveness of drug policies and prevention strategies.

About La Trobe University’s Centre for Alcohol Policy Research (CAPR)

CAPR is an initiative of La Trobe University, advancing knowledge and understanding of alcohol-related policies and their impact on society. CAPR conducts high-quality research, collaborates with partners, and provides evidence-based insights for policy development in Australia and internationally.

Media: Courtney Carthy - 487 448 734