As important as the advice “don’t do drugs” is, we know by now that abstinence is not always the most realistic (and thus not the most actively helpful) answer to the problem of dangerous drugs.
ER doctor David Caldicott gave us his advice on how best to protect young ravers after a death by overdose took place at Stereosonic Music Festival only last year. His statement, made in November, is just as applicable today:
“‘Don’t use drugs’ is perfectly acceptable for primary school kids and the people who aren’t already using drugs,” he said. “But for this group of people, they’ve already decided to use drugs and we need to be far more nuanced in our approach to illicit drugs than we currently are.”
Dr. David is a strong supporter of making drug testing kits available to attendees at raves and festivals, as he believes this method will do a much better job of saving lives than just simply preaching abstinence.
It seems his words have not fallen on deaf ears. According to a VICE news source, Dr. Caldicott is currently “in talks with police and politicians around Australia, and will be introducing pill-testing trials at Australian music festivals within the next year” except for NSW.
This is a certainly a revolutionary idea for countries like the U.S. and Australia, but not so much a brand new method globally.
“This is such a mundane thing now in Europe they actually have best practice guidelines,” Caldicott said. “It’s not as though we are inventing something really naughty.”
Local police in Australia declined to comment on whether they supported pill testing or not. Their grounding issue with it seems to be that the substances being tested are and still will be illegal. This opens up the potential issue of lawsuits.
VICE writes, “Caldicott says this isn’t a concern. Any drugs being tested will be only handled by a forensic scientist, who is licensed to handle these substances.”
Australia has faced a lot of bad press this year surrounding their music festival scene and how they’ve handled the issue of drug abuse. Their tactic in sending in police dogs to festivals was on the news recently, and this method of control undoubtedly backfired and created unnecessary panic. People were swallowing all their drugs in a rush so they wouldn’t be seized by officers. That negative attention has only doubled since the country initiated a lockout law in response to the deaths of young people at previously held events.
Applying helpful and proactive methods of safety, like welcoming testing kits and professionals into the festival atmosphere, is a very positive step in the right direction for Australia.