Helena Valente

Helena Valente

Researcher at Kosmicare/University of Porto

Helena Valente is vice-president of Kosmicare Association and a researcher/PhD. Candidate at Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences of the Porto University, where she is developing a project that aims to understand the impact of drug checking services in its clients drug using patterns and behaviours. Helena Valente works with people that use drugs since 2004 and since 2007, has developed, implemented and coordinated several community intervention projects, particularly in the areas of harm reduction and nightlife settings.

Drug Checking

Bip.Brussels - Zinneke
The Boom festival is one of the largest transformational festivals in the world and one of the few that offers full scale harm reduction services to its patrons including: specialized health professional working as stewards, drug information and harm reduction materials, a state of the art drug checking service, psychedelic emergency services and specialized medical services. This year, Kosmicare Association with the support of Energy Control, offered Boomers the possibility of testing their drugs by High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) for the first time in Portugal. During the 7-day festival, 677 suspected drug samples were tested by Thin Layer Chromatography and 140 by HPLC. In order to understand the impact of the Drug Checking Service offered at Boom 2018, a quasi-experimental study was implemented in its clients' drug taking patterns and behaviours. We surveyed all "Boom Festival patrons that come to HR infostand and use the DC service" in three different moments (pre/post-test/follow up) and used "Boom Festival patrons that come to the HR infostand but don't use the drug checking service" as a control group. The results of this study show that a large majority of users whose test result was an unexpected substance reported "not taking the substance". Also a considerable number of users whose result was "the expected substance plus an adulterant" have decided not to take the substance or engage in other harm reduction strategies. Based on these and other results, which we will further develop in our presentation, we argue that Drug Checking is an effective and evidence-based tool to help people that use drugs manage their use.
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