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Scientific Project: ChEck iT!

Quality level: 2

Summary

ChEck iT! offers the anonymous and free chemical analysis of ecstasy, speed and other illicit substances. The aim is to provide scene specific knowledge about the risks, contents and effects of these substances, as well as providing counselling to users.

Type of intervention:
prevention
Sub-area:
selective
Setting:
family, party scene
Type of approach:
Target group:
adults, children/young people
Age group:
15-19
Annual coverage:
2168
Substances addressed:
cannabis, cocaine and derivatives, inhalants/solvents
Evaluation type:
outcome evaluation, process evaluation
Country:
Austria
Start date:
01/05/1997
End date:

Overall objective

The general objective of the project is the prevention of problematic consumption patterns as regard to psychoactive substances as well as of short, middle and long term adverse health consequences (secondary prevention, harm reduction). ChEck iT! is a scientific project aiming at the collecting scientific data. Through the documentation of the chemical analysis and the realization of user surveys - focusing on patterns and reasons of use - essential data for the early detection of new trends regarding substances and use should be collected. This data is an important basis for the rapid, sound and pragmatic further development of primary as well as secondary prevention.

Abstract

ChEck iT! is a service of the Vienna Social Projects and runs in co-operation with the Clinical Institute for Medical and Chemical Laboratory Diagnostics of University Hospital of Vienna a scientific pilot project. In this context, ChEck iT! provides as the only service in Austria besides information and counselling also a high quality, anonymous and free of charge chemical analysis of illegal drugs directly at big rave parties. In addition the project runs the website www.CheckYourDrugs.at and offers e-mail-counselling. The general objective of the project is the prevention of problematic consumption patterns as regard to psychoactive substances as well as of short, middle and long term adverse health consequences (secondary prevention, harm reduction). Another objective is the collection of scientific data. Through the documentation of the chemical analysis and the realization of user surveys - focusing on patterns and reasons of use - essential data for the early detection of new trends regarding substances and use should be collected. This data is an important basis for the rapid, sound and pragmatic further development of primary as well as secondary prevention. ChEck iT! offers educational and scene specific knowledge about risks, contents and effects of (supposed) psychoactive substances, about the development of addictive behaviour and about alternative strategies of dealing with problems. ChEck iT! tries not to judge but - by accepting the individual - to create a climate that facilitates considerations about problematic situations and supports changes of behaviour. In the course of the internal evaluation information and data about the pill testing as well as information and counselling in collected on on-going basis. The results prove the high acceptance of ChEck iT! and the fact that the programme succeeds to reach the target group. At big events (ca. 4.000 visitors) up to 400 visitors are making use of the services of ChEck iT!. In average about 250 information and counselling talks are documented and about 70 psychoactive substances are brought for testing. The evaluation also showed that the offer of chemical analysis is of important relevance in order to reach the target group. By far less visitors made use of the additional offer of the "info tour" without pill testing. In addition, 81 % of ecstasy users covered by the EU-study "Pilltesting - Ecstasy und Prävention" - which involved ChEck iT! - reported that they never visited a drug counselling service. 58 % of the persons making use of pill testing reported that they would not contact ChEck iT! without the availability of pill testing. The results of this study on the effectiveness of pill testing also show that persons making use of testing ("tester") are better informed about the risks of ecstasy use as the "non-tester". The more often the persons included in the study made use of the pill testing service, the better there information base was. An improved information base does not necessarily result in change of behaviour. Tester and non-tester showed in principle a similar consumption behaviour - but more regular tester used drugs less frequently and showed a less risky party behaviour. In addition, tester normally use less pills if the results of testing indicate a high dosage. Tester also report that they do not use a pill if the result of analysis shows that it is a different substance than expected. Thus, information provided by pill testing is motivating the users to decrease their drug use. Thus, it can be concluded that pill testing is an effective secondary prevention method. The provision of objective and factual information tailored for the specific scene through the staff of ChEck iT! results in increased knowledge and changes of behavior. The empirical results disprove the concerns that pill testing might stimulate the use of illegal drugs.

The PDF contains the full intervention description including additional contact information.

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Page last updated: Friday, 20 January 2012