Pill testing more effective for first time users than ‘thrill seekers’, study finds

A new study by Edith Cowan University has found that different types of festival-goers respond differently to pill testing, with first time users of the drug MDMA responding most effectively to results when issues such as contamination and purity arose.

In comparison, long-time drug users and ‘thrill seekers’ weren’t phased by pill testing results and were likely to ignore the warnings.

New research on pill testing finds prior users are likely to ignore results in comparison to first timers.

The research was published in the journal Drug And Alcohol Review and ultimately relays the effectiveness of pill testing in reducing harm and identifying adverse ingredients, however, its not a “magic answer” and more a method of harm minimisation.

A survey earlier this year found that majority of voters are open to pill testing, with 63% of surveyors supporting it in circumstances that included trained councillors providing advice that stemmed from on-site laboratory analysis. Despite this, routine users’ lack of desire to act on the findings of pill testing is the underlying downfall of the method, as authors of the research Ross Hollett and Natalie Gately said in The Conversation:

“Educating people generally gives them information to make choices. But, for some, simply giving more information about their substance won’t change their tendency to use it.”

“Our study showed that people who are risk takers in general (referred to as sensation seekers) would be more likely to take risks with a substance if a test was inconclusive or if the substance contained harmful contaminants. Importantly, these risk takers would also be less likely to take precautions after finding out their pill contained a high dose of ecstasy.”

The research was based on interviews with 276 festival attendees over a three day period.