Analysis of the content of used injecting paraphernalia in the Sydney supervised injecting facility
According to the last World Drug Report, it is estimated that one quarter of a billion people used at least one drug in 2016. The consequences of drug use on health and society are concerning as more than twenty-nine million people who use drugs are estimated to suffer from drug use disorder and about half of them are dependent on opioids. In Australia, high potency opioids have been detected at the borders, but other than the diversion of pharmaceutical fentanyl, there has been little evidence of these substances entering the market.
Information about drug use is usually obtained through self-report. However, people who inject drugs often do not have full knowledge of the drug they consumed, leading to bias when interpreting the results. Improving information about drugs being used could facilitate early detection of risky compounds and rapid design of responses.
The aim of this research was to gain knowledge about the type of substances injected through the analysis of used injecting paraphernalia collected at the Sydney supervised injecting facility (SIF). This facility provides hygienic space for injection supervision, advice on safer practice, and referrals to health and social services.
Syringes and other injecting paraphernalia disposed by consumers in waste disposal bins were collected during one week in 2019. The residual content of used syringes was analysed by gas-chromatography/mass-spectrometry.
The results of the chemical analysis performed under this study will be presented and will be compared to the self-reported data about drug use collected at the SIF. Any new compounds that were not reported by the consumers will be discussed, in particular some cutting agents potentially harmful for the consumers.
In conclusion, this study shows the feasibility of implementing such an approach. The results demonstrate that analysis of used syringes, when combined with other information, enables the development of sound strategies to reduce risk to public health and harms related to drug use.