2. Tailoring drug checking services to Drug Consumption Rooms
Energy Control's drug checking service is designed to meet the demand of recreational drug users by analyzing thousands of samples used in recreational contexts every year. However, there is also a demand to use this service in other contexts such as DCRs mainly when there has been an overdose or acute intoxication, or when unexpected effects are reported. The results often lead to the withdrawal of the adulterated samples from the market but they do not allow monitoring on a regular basis or taking advantage of the related brief motivational intervention.
Since 2009, between 75 and 150 samples collected annually in the DCRs of Barcelona have been analyzed using different types of chromatography. However, seeing the limitations of this model to reach the users of DCRs, a new model has been developed since 2020 combining Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and fentanyl strips with the possibility of providing immediate results.
The ability to reach the target population increases when using a technology with immediate and non-destructive results. Moreover, the direct contact with the users and the objective results have allowed to demystify many drug-related beliefs.
If a technology such as FTIR is used, it is also necessary to continuously monitor the market with other technologies. So far, no fentanyl-derivatives have been identified in Spain’s heroin market but ongoing monitoring is required because other types of opioids, such as nitazenes, which cannot be detected with fentanyl strips, have been found in Europe.