By Ed Southgate, co-Editor in Chief
Drug-users will be able to test 'substances of concern' later this month as Bristol hosts the UK's second city-based free and confidential drug-testing facility.
The Loop, a registered charity, provides drug and alcohol awareness and welfare advice. On December 1, its second ever pop-up service will appear at Hamilton House in Stokes Croft from 12-8pm.
Drug-users can have their substances tested for strength, purity and identification. As part of the service, they are required to have a 15-minute consultation afterwards with an expert who will explain the findings, the risks that the particular substance carries, and the individual's drug-use.
***Announcement*** The Loop will be conducting our free, confidential drug safety testing service in Bristol on Saturday 1st December 12-8pm at Hamilton House, Stokes Croft. Please bring substances of concern for testing #FestiveTimeToTest #JustSayKnow #harmreduction #MAST https://t.co/MKGFZXyMN2— The Loop (@WeAreTheLoopUK) November 22, 2018
In many cases, the tested substance is not what the user believed it to be. The award-winning non-government organisation is increasingly concerned about the rise in N-ethylpentylone being missold as MDMA.
Despite both drugs having the same appearance, N-ethylpentylone can cause anxiety, paranoia and insomnia for 24-72 hours after the effects wear off. In some cases, the drug has caused temporary pyschosis.
The Loop first appeared earlier this year, again in Bristol, and received support from the owner of popular nightclub Motion and Avon & Somerset Police.
The testing facilities have appeared at UK festivals for four years, including Boomtown, Parklife and Bristol's Love Saves The Day. Organisers say this is not to promote drug-use, but recognise that despite security, illegal substances may still get into the event.
We are coming to the end of our Bank Holiday Big Weekend & our summer testing. We have identified a lot of pentylone in circulation missold as MDMA. If you or a friend mistakenly took it, please read our suggestions. Take care & look after each other. Thank you & goodnight xxx pic.twitter.com/9TJuDs8II0— The Loop (@WeAreTheLoopUK) August 26, 2018
Boomtown this year saw a 25 per cent decrease in drug-related medical problems, which The Loop attribute to their presence.
Similarly, Bristol West MP Thangam Debbonaire told parliament in July that she believes there to have been no drug-related deaths at Love Saves The Day because of the drug-testing facility.
Over a third of 16-25 year olds are estimated to have taken illegal substances. The Home Office minister, Nick Hurd, assured Ms Debbonaire that the government 'would not stand in the way' of harm-reduction schemes such as The Loop.