The UCC Students for Sensible Drug Policy have announced their campaign to procure funding from the university that will enable the Students’ Union to supply drug testing kits for students in UCC free of charge. The society has also emphasised the importance of education in this area for students, particularly first years, and of staying safe in drug interactions.
Fergal Eccles, chairperson of UCC SSDP, told the Express that “[d]rug checking kits, coupled with education about drugs and how they interact are simple measures the SU can take to ensure student safety. The majority of deaths related to drug use are either caused by mislabelled drugs or overheating and dehydration. Our campaign would allow for students in UCC to receive drug-checking kits for free.” A recent poll saw 90% of UCC students who voted were in favour of the test kits being provided, but currently the society cannot claim funding for the kits. Demand is high, with Eccles estimating 10-15 kits are required a week. Eccles continued, “[w]e plan to try get 90% availability by the end of the year. Like condoms, people should have some on-hand in case they ever do decide to use drugs.”
The SSDP give out a minimum of two kits per person, as multiple kits are required to give an indication of the content tested. The kits don’t show purity, but work using reagent chemicals to interact with common party drugs and adulterants. The society also offers a discount for multi-use kits, which can be purchased from a UK company. The tests can be obtained by emailing UCC SSDP or messaging them via social media, who will then arrange to meet on campus. The society provides a guide to using the kits, and don’t store the information of anyone who purchases a kit.
Eccles is also the Director for Festival Welfare at Help Not Harm, an organisation that provides related assistance at festivals in Ireland and the UK.