Test Your Poison impacts Canada-wide
Testing kits available as drug use rises
We’ve known for years, decades maybe, that abstinence-only education is ineffective. It’s been tested in multiple cultures, time periods, cohorts, and topics with the support of millions of dollars. You need only look so far as Saskatchewan’s STI rates for chlamydia and gonorrhea – second only to Manitoba out of all our country’s provinces according to Statistics Canada, and rising steadily in all age groups – to see that abstinence education does not solve problems.
Abstinence-only education is used in much more than sexual education (or the lack thereof); it’s often used in addiction recovery programs. While the cold-turkey approach can work for some, the journey to sobriety cannot be found through a cookie-cutter approach to treatment. The harsh truth is that there will always be people who try illegal drugs, and without proper knowledge and education on what they’re taking and how to take it the chances of a worst-case scenario increase dramatically.
Organizations like AIDS Saskatoon and Test Your Poison are able to fill an incredible void here. In late August of this year AIDS Saskatoon was approved for a safe injection site by Health Canada. Safe injection sites have been proven to help those recovering from opioid and meth addictions, while also playing a part in lowering STI rates because injections occur safely and needle sharing, a main cause of STI transmission, doesn’t occur.
While safe injection sites are a necessity for addicts and those in relapse, it won’t be on the radar of casual users who partake at events like music festivals. Test Your Poison is a Canadian-based website focused on harm reduction where people can order drug identification and purity kits. The identification kits test for the presence of the drug being tested and are available for everything from cannabinoids to fentanyl to MDMA. The purity kits are available for cocaine, heroin, and MDMA. The latter kits are a necessity in this day and age where people can’t be certain that what they’re buying hasn’t been cut with something toxic.
Some dealers cut their products to increase profit margins, which can result in everything from a bad trip to a fatality depending on what they mixed in. One of Test Your Poison’s best selling testing kits is their Cocaine Cutting Agents test, which is able to identify the most common and dangerous cutting agents. Levamisole, a drug used to deworm livestock, is just one of the many agents this test can pick up. While levamisole can come in handy with heifers, it drastically lowers the white blood cell count in humans leaving those who’ve ingested it susceptible to countless infections. In 2009 the DEA reported that 70 per cent of cocaine entering the USA contained levamisole, and according to Test Your Poison’s information section that number has risen upwards of 80 per cent in the past decade.
While these two organizations alone won’t be able to help every case that’s fallen between the cracks, they will have an incredible impact both short and long term by helping individuals in the moment and opening doors for more like-organizations so we as a province and country can help people in the ways they’ll respond to best rather than ostracizing individuals when they don’t fit inside our culture’s cookie-cutter fixes.