DRUG CHECKING: An Essential Response to Emerging Harm Reduction Needs

Georgia has observed increasing trends of use of new psychoactive substances (NPS), as well as increased rates of non-injecting drug use in recreational settings, based on the latest available evidence. Additionally, the circulation of unknown NPS poses significant risks to people who use drugs, due to the highly toxic nature of these substances. In the last years, an increasing number of cases of overdose, health complications, and overdose-related deaths have been reported by media and civil society organizations.

These challenges are paired with the fact, that Harm Reduction (HR) interventions available in-country are primarily directed to injecting drug use practices (needle and syringe program) and HIV prevention, but do not respond to harm reduction needs in line with risks related to developments in the drug market and drug use scene.

Accordingly, these challenges create an emerging need to introduce novel harm reduction interventions, targeted at non-injecting and recreational drug use, including Drug Checking Services (DCS). Nowadays, these services, including DCS, are totally absent or fragmented, in particular, they are provided by only one organization that lacks funding and sustainability, thus has limited capabilities to comprehensively introduce and operate service delivery.

Based on the review of the available evidence, international practice, as well as technical documents on DCS, this policy brief provides descriptive analyses and key conclusions on the rationale behind DCS, their purpose, impact and positive effect, legal regulation, as well as technical aspects of types of dug checking techniques and best practices for their implementation.

The policy document has been prepared jointly by CIF in the frame of the Strategic Policy Fellowship Program authored by Giorgi Soselia, Maia Uchaneishvili, and Temo Khatiashvili. The program is launched as part of the K2P Mentorship Program for Building Institutional Capacity for HPSR and Delivery Science. The project is funded by The Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research.

Download the Policy Brief. 

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