Pill testing is becoming increasingly common at music festivals and events around the world, and pill testing organisations and not-for-profits currently provide services throughout Europe, the U.S and Canada.
A recent trial in Australia demonstrated positive results, showing that only 43% of the substances tested contained significant amounts of the substance that the patron expected, the other 57% containing significant levels of other chemical agents.32
Around 40% of patrons who engaged in the pill testing trial chose to moderate their behaviour as a result of these findings, either stating that they would take less of the substance or would not take the substance at all.33
Pill testing stations also provide another outlet for the dissemination and reiteration of harm reduction messaging. While this trial has shown positive impacts on substance use within the event environment, there is still significant legislative and political debate about the use of pill testing on a broader scale in Australia.
History has demonstrated that no matter the level of deterrence-based policy that is implemented around substance use at events, there will still be a proportion of people who consume substances. This results in an increased risk of harm, including potential overdose, at these events.
Harm reduction strategies play a key role in reducing the adverse impacts of substance use at these events. Evidence based methods should be a focus of event organising and planning to reduce harm associated with substance use.