At KnowYourStuffNZ we believe that people should not risk death on a night out.
With four people hospitalised after the Listen In Auckland event we’ve had another near-miss. We’re relieved that the people affected are now stable, but this could have been much worse. What scares us is that this is going to keep on happening unless we take an effective approach to reducing the harm from drug use. We’ve been demonstrating that approach for the past five years – if someone can test a substance before taking it then they can avoid the most dangerous drugs. If that person does choose to take a substance after testing, we advise them about how to reduce the risk of doing so. That might mean taking less, waiting before taking more, avoiding mixing with alcohol, knowing what to expect, and knowing when and how to seek help if they get into difficulty.
We were not at Listen In so we don’t know what the four hospitalised people took, nor do the people themselves, nor do the medics on the front-line of keeping people safe. We are not going to speculate what those people might have taken, but we are concerned for this coming summer about three big risks: people taking too much MDMA, people taking cathinones (“bath salts”), and people taking new and unknown substances.
Let’s clear up some of the misconceptions that we’ve heard in the last few days:
- KYSNZ always advise that the safest approach is not to take drugs. That’s literally the first thing that we say to our clients.
- We never describe a substance as “safe”. All drug use has risks. We discuss those risks with our clients. That conversation is informed by our testing.
- We do not return the substance that we use for testing. The small amount used is destroyed as part of testing.
- We are not the Government. We are not the Police. We are not funded by tax-payers. We are a volunteer group who run entirely off donations.
You can find out more about our techniques and operations in our FAQ.
Could we have stopped four people going to hospital on Friday night? That’s why we go to events, to reduce the chance of this happening. We know that what we do changes people’s behaviour, reducing the risk of drug-related harm.
We were not at Listen In because, in part, of the legal risk to the organisers. Where we go depends upon the organisers and whether they are willing to take a legal risk to have us at their event. RFA Auckland Stadiums are correct to say that having testing at their events would place them “in a very difficult legal position”.
We want the legal grey area about drug checking to be clarified so that we can help people stay safe at every large event this summer.
We want this law clarification to happen before someone dies.