PhD: Drug Checking

Exploring drug checking as a harm reduction strategy

PhD: Drug Checking
  • £40

    pledged of £20,000

    • 2


    • 0


Completion Date: Fri 30 Jun 2017

A short summary of your project

Drug related deaths in the UK are the highest since records began. More people are taking novel substances in the UK than anywhere else in Europe, they are using in riskier ways and with greater fatalities. Other countries in Europe have responded to this public health issue by developing drug checking services which allows people who take drugs to find out what is really inside them. This means people can make informed decisions about the substances they ingest.

I am raising £20,000 to fund PhD research in to the harm reduction strategy "drug checking". I intend to explore the evidence base for drug checking, focusing on harm reduction interventions in nightlife settings such as festivals and nightclubs.

About me

I am a harm reduction enthusiast working in welfare, training, mental health and youth work.

Why I am here

I have worked across Europe delivering harm reduction interventions at festivals and events. I have worked along drug checking services; I have studied the way messages about the dangers of drugs are communicated; I have read too many headlines about lives lost from recreational drug use. I have watched as the way things currently are set up has led to ever more headlines about people dying.

  • I am exploring drug checking as a harm reduction strategy. I think that this can minimise the risk of recreational drug use and ultimately save lives.
  • I want to prevent unnecessary loss of lives. Prohibition has not stopped drug use but the illicit and unregulated nature of the drug market along with the taboo nature of drug use is putting people's lives at risk- there is a better option. We need to respond and that response must be evidence based.
  • If you donate to this research you will be contributing to a global conversation about harm reduction and the way we respond to drug use. You will help explore ways to reduce harm and prevent deaths.

Additional Info

Drug related deaths in the UK are the highest on record and the reported prevalence of New Psychoactive Substances across Europe is increasing rapidly.

The illicit drug market means that many of the substances people use recreationally, particularly in nightlife settings, are unregulated. People are dying because of adulterated substances or high strength drugs. There is likely an untold impact to mental health through the ingestion of misrepresented drugs which result in unexpected or unintended effects.

If tabs of acid are being sold as the riskier and harder to dose NBOMe substances ; if ecstasy tablets contain the stronger substance PMMA rather than MDMA then people's lives are at risk.

Drug checking involves the chemical analysis of substances and allows people to make informed decisions about what they put into their body. There is a 30 year history of drug checking across Europe through services offered by organisations such as Energy Control , Check-in and the national testing service DIMs in the Netherlands.  These groups work closely with festivals and events where recreational drug use is common.

Drug warnings can quickly be circulated on site at festivals, through social media and can have a global reach. Testing at festival and events can also help first aid responses to medical emergencies. The first front of house testing took place in the UK on the summer of 2016

I want to explore drug checking as a harm reduction strategy in Scotland and the RUK and I need your support to do this. I will focus on drug checking harm reduction interventions in nightlife settings which is an area I have explored through work and volunteering roles .

Policy decisions must be evidence based. It is important to make the right choices rather than those which feel right or which have the loudest voices attached. a PhD study into drug checking will generate recommendations for a potential Scottish policy context.

Decisions need to be made and action taken. This research is urgent and I hope to begin it in October this year.

Where will the money go?

  • A usual PhD stipend is between £16,000- £20,000 per year. I am hoping that crowdfunding can secure support for at least my first year of research.
  • If I hit the full target this should be enough to cover living expenses, travel costs and attendance at key conferences.
  • Any extra funds will be used to cover subsequent years of research or to create materials to carry out participatory observation during harm reduction interventions in nightlife settings.
  • I will give weekly updates- this is important to me and is all I think about or focus on in my spare time.
  • Breakdown of costs:
  • The living wage is an equivalent  salary of £15,850 which should be enough to cover accommodation, utilities and food.
  • This leaves £4148 to cover
| TRAVEL      | ATTENDANCE AT CONFERENCES     | BOOKS AND MATERIALS     | PROMOTION OF THE STUDY     | INCENTIVES FOR PARTICIPANTS (e.g. vouchers in return for focus group participation)


  • Tiered donations can be exchanged in return for training for your organisation or team. I am an experienced trainer in the field of NPS, Online Support, Crisis Intervention, LGBT issues, Mental health and health promotion.
  • You will personally be thanked for supporting this cause by letter, in a short video and in a blog post.

Images and video

coming soon

Find ME here

Follow me on twitter @kirapascalle

Help ME succeed!

  • Donate! :)
  • Ask people to spread the word and share far and wide
  • You don't need to give money to help this campaign succeed! Please share this project with anyone you think would support us – on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, by email, telephone, in a chat over the fence or on your blog.
  • In fact, share it with everyone you know as I think it's a great idea, and the more people who know about it, the more likely we are to make this work out brilliantly.
  • And I know I said you don't need to give money to help out, but I'd love it if you did! Please sponsor us and help make this happen.