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Bid for first Scottish drug-checking project in Grampian

Drugs
Testing machines would look at the content of drugs [PA Media]

A bid is being made to establish Scotland's first checking service for possible contamination of illegal drugs in Aberdeen, aimed at saving lives.

Special testing machines would look at the content of substances.

Alcohol and Drugs Action (ADA) has submitted the Home Office licence application as part of the Aberdeen Alcohol and Drugs Partnership (ADP).

It was announced in January that the UK's first regular drug-checking service would be launching in Bristol.

If the Aberdeen bid is successful, the drug checking would be made available to those over the age of 18.

It would be targeted at people who report dependence to, or have suffered significant harm from, the use of one or more illicit drug.

Workers would use small testing machines locally to look at the content of illicit substances, before samples are sent to a testing laboratory for in-depth analysis.

It would also feed into Public Health Scotland's surveillance of substances that are circulating.

Lindsay
Lindsay welcomed the application as a potential "game-changer" [BBC]

Lindsay has been in recovery for about six years, and said she believed a testing facility would make a huge difference.

"What we see with the potency of the drugs that are on the street at the moment is very, very scary," she said.

"And for the ability for people to get that checked - it's a game-changer."

'Make a huge difference'

She explained: "When you're in the chaos of it, it's sometimes a bit difficult to stop and think. But it being situated within ADA, within the needle exchange - people are accessing that service anyway.

"Maybe the first time they come in and are offered that service, it might not be the right time. But just knowing it's there could make a huge difference."

Drugs and alcohol policy minister Christina McKelvie also welcomed the Aberdeen move.

"We are committed to delivering drug-checking facilities which will allow people to get substances tested for content whilst receiving tailored harm reduction advice alongside the results and will enable services to respond faster to emerging trends," she said.

ADA's direct access services manager Simon Pringle said: "Our main aim is to reduce harm associated with drug use for people at the highest risk of harm, overdose and death.

"Being able to test substances on site will give us an opportunity to have a conversation with service users about what they're using and what's actually in these substances, so they can make more informed choices."

NHS Grampian's public health consultant John Mooney described the drug checking project as potentially providing a "really valuable" level of testing.