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Analysis of Argument from reading.

Solution:

INTRODUCTION

Australia is one of the global countries that has widely adopted the drug strategy and harm reduction model to combat the consumption of drugs such as MDMA (3,4 methylenedioxy-methamphetamine) and ice (crystal methamphetamine) (Groves, 2018, P 12). However, with the increasing deaths of young people during music festivals from a party drug overdose, the policies and their effectiveness are largely argued for being inconsistent and fragmented. Despite being a major harm reduction strategy pill testing is not currently considered by the government and remain within the domain of major political and policy debate. In this essay, the argumentative critical analysis of pill testing as the harm reduction technique is done via reflective understanding gained through two articles. These two articles are the studies conducted on pill testing by Groves et al., 2018 and Morgan & Jones, 2019.

CRITICAL ANAYSIS-ARGUMENTS

In Australia, the National Drug Strategy 2017–2026 a harm minimization strategy, focusing on decreasing the harm caused by alcohol and other drug works through the implementation of three primary principles is adopted (Freeman et al., 2017, p 2721714). These strategies include reducing AOD demand through public awareness campaigns and recovery support systems; reducing drug and alcohol supply through policies and laws; and, finally, harm reduction through individual risky behaviour modification. The approach strives to create healthy communities by avoiding, mitigating, and responding to the social, economic, and physical harm caused by alcohol and other drugs (Groves, 2018, P 12). Although when it comes to the application of policy is often questioned and the claims of reducing supply, demand and harm often fall short. The global drug survey conducted in year 2019 identified that Australia is one of the largest consumers of MDMA pills consumed with more than half of the Australian music festival attendees were taking ecstasy pills during music festivals. Evidence has suggested that Australian users after MDMA take require medical attention twice as much as the global average of 1% (Hawk et al.,2017, p 70).

Pill testing is the method of harm reduction used internationally to check and screen the drug for adulteration, the concept emerged first in the Netherlands where it is part of official drug policies (Groves et al., 2018). In pill testing, the volunteers of the music festivals volunteer the sample of drugs for analysis to the respective scientist or healthcare professional who then after analysing the said pill provides the complete information about the composition of pill and guide regarding the safety. However, pill testing has its challenges, one of the most drawback is that there is are currently no set defined standard system with observable differences in techniques used across the globe, accuracy of the technology used and discrepancies in test results presentations (Morgan & Jones, 2019).

As drugs have become a pervasive part of modern life, an innovative approach to reducing drug-related harms is required rather than just merely criminalising users (Cliffe et al., 2021, p e116). The 2017–2026 strategy’s major aim is to provide scope for interventions in high-prevalence or high-risk populations area hence the implementation of pill testing during the music festivals will reduce emergency hospital presentation, decrease the risk of overdose, the spread of the blood-borne virus and associated morbidity ((Morgan & Jones, 2019).

Pill-checking models are divided into two categories. In the first category, the direct results regarding the pill are provided to the participant from the party through a meeting with a health care professional. This type is widely adopted by Europe where the testing vans are installed outside the party venues and similar was observed as Australian pill testing trials done from year 2018-2019 (Morgan & Jones, 2019). The second method is the public communication of results on internet, with each pill assigned a “good/bad” or “green/orange/red” grade. Dance Safe currently used in USA and the Drugs Monitoring System used by Netherlands are the example of the indirect pill testing (Morgan & Jones, 2019).

In Australia, the first method is widely being accepted by policymakers due to its potential benefits of directly working with the target group and efficiency of harm reduction. Pill-testing system provides benefit by creating an informative warning system to healthcare professionals, researchers and policymakers by providing ground-level data and reflection of the current drug intake tendencies among the youth population (Groves et al., 2018). However, while implementing the Pill testing the difficulties reflect on broader policy dilemmas in combining the requirements of public health on one hand and the other for criminal punishments. Furthermore, it requires extensive collaboration and supports seeking behaviour at the administrative, educational and healthcare levels (Scott & Scott, 2020). For example, Needle Syringe Exchange and further the Medically Supervised Injecting Centres and over 3500 safe needle and syringe programs currently running across Australia (Morgan & Jones, 2019).

Pill testing also has certain ethical and legal issues, for example, the participants of the pill testing have already purchased or used the drug hence it becomes questionable to have legal actions for intention to consume drugs or if legal actions are taken it can discourage them to go for pill testing (Cliffe et al., 2021, p e116). Also, in the viewpoint of the best practice system under no circumstance, any health care providers can inform youth participating in pill testing that the said drug is safe to take (Freeman et al., 2017, p 2721714). During Australia’s pill-testing trials in 2018 and 2019, Dr David Caldicotthas observed that current technology was unable to provide details of all components or the legalised strength of active compound used in a mixture of the pill provided for testing hence calling for better technology use (Morgan & Jones, 2019).

To conclude, despite having certain limitations pill-testing is a valuable strategy that should be adopted and widely implemented for identifying components of the harmful drugs commonly being used in parties and for engaging with the vulnerable group to provide information and connect further users to support groups. Hence it should become part of the drug strategy in Australia to address the increasing number of deaths among youths.

References

Cliffe, C., Pitman, A., Sedgwick, R., Pritchard, M., Dutta, R., & Rowe, S. (2021). Harm minimisation for the management of self-harm: a mixed-methods analysis of electronic health records in secondary mental healthcare. BJPsych open, 7(4), e116. https://doi.org/10.1192/bjo.2021.946

Freeman, B., MacKenzie, R., & Daube, M. (2017). Should tobacco and alcohol companies be allowed to influence Australia’s National Drug Strategy?. Public health research & practice, 27(2), 2721714. https://doi.org/10.17061/phrp2721714

Groves A. (2018). ‘Worth the test?’ Pragmatism, pill testing and drug policy in Australia. Harm reduction journal, 15(1), 12. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12954-018-0216-z

Hawk, M., Coulter, R., Egan, J. E., Fisk, S., Reuel Friedman, M., Tula, M., & Kinsky, S. (2017). Harm reduction principles for healthcare settings. Harm reduction journal, 14(1), 70. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12954-017-0196-4

Morgan, J., & Jones, A. (2019). Pill‐testing as a harm reduction strategy: time to have the conversation. Medical Journal Of Australia211(10), 447. https://doi.org/10.5694/mja2.50385

Scott, I., & Scott, R. (2020). Pill testing at music festivals: is it evidence‐based harm reduction?. Internal Medicine Journal50(4), 395-402. https://doi.org/10.1111/imj.14742

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