GPs Laud Life-Saving Victorian Drug Testing Trial

Royal Australian College of GPs

Australia's peak GP body the Royal Australian College of GPs (RACGP) has warmly welcomed Victoria introducing a drug testing trial.

It comes following Victorian Premier, Jacinta Allan, and Minister for Mental Health, Ingrid Stitt, today announcing an 18-month drug testing trial, commonly called "pill testing", including mobile and fixed site services.

RACGP Victoria Chair, Dr Anita Munoz, said the announcement was a huge step forward.

"This will save lives," she said.

"A drug testing trial will enable people to understand what they are actually taking, including young people experimenting with illicit drugs who have their whole lives ahead of them. Drug testing sites are also a great way of engaging with those who are using illicit drugs, including people in their teens and early 20's at music festivals and other similar events. Trained staff at these services can talk to them free of judgment about why they are using drugs and outline the risks involved. Drug testing has been proven to work in other jurisdictions, it makes sense, and it saves lives.

"This is a victory for common sense and sound policy over tired rhetoric and a 'war-on-drugs' mentality that gets us nowhere. Alcohol and other drug use, whether it be illicit drug use at music festivals or people experiencing severe opioid dependence on drugs such as heroin, is a health issue.

"Earlier this year, we called on the Victorian Government to heed coronial recommendations to trial a drug testing service. The Government has not only listened to the College, and a host of other groups, but acted decisively to introduce mobile and fixed sites. It's such a fantastic outcome. Drug testing is not about condoning illicit drug use, rather it's a sensible harm reduction measure. There is no use pretending that people don't use illicit drugs, it is a reality of life. So, let's focus on minimising harm and keeping people as safe as possible."

RACGP Addiction Medicine spokesperson, Dr Marguerite Tracy, called for other states and territories to follow suit.

"This is fantastic news, and further evidence that momentum is building around Australia," she said.

"In March this year, we welcomed Queensland becoming the first Australian jurisdiction to institute an ongoing drug testing or 'pill testing' service. The ACT has also successfully conducted drug testing at events such as music festivals and now has a fixed pill testing site. So, it is time for other states and territories to follow suit.

"Every life is worth saving. And every day we delay is another day that people can experience overdoses and be hospitalised, or worse."

RACGP spokespeople are available

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