The government has seen the value in education as a means of preparing young people - children - with the skills to resist involvement with drugs. It also recognises the role of treatment for drug dependent addicts. However, it is doing nothing to target the one group who most need guidance, the recreational users. This group forms by far the largest section of drug users and is the at most risk, yet is ignored by the policy “Tackling drugs together to build a better Britain”.
Recreational drug use is a fact, it happens on a huge scale across all sections of society. Therefore, any program targeted at this group must accept that, at least within this group, such drug use is regarded as socially acceptable, indeed as normal.It is for this reason DIY is not an “anti-drug” campaign.
DIY seeks to target its efforts at recreational users in the places they gather and/or where drugs are used. This information is not intended for general distribution amongst people not involved with drug use, the target age range is ideally 18 and above, although it has to be accepted that on occasion very much younger children will become involved and when they do, they should get the information.
Fake or otherwise dangerous drug warnings.
As things stand, the authorities refuse to make this information available as one of the strands of the enforcement lead approach is to make the supply of illegal drugs as uncertain as possible.
Unfortunately, this has resulted in several cases of truly dangerous drugs being sold and has caused several emergencies and even some deaths. Recent such examples include “ecstasy” pills in fact containing Atropine, 4MTA or DOB, all potentially dangerous chemicals.
This sort of fake can be detected and prevented by allowing pill testing using the Marquis reagent (pill testing kit). However, this is a very simple and crude test and needs to be augmented by a system similar to the Dutch “Drug Information and Monitoring Service” (DIMS). DIMS allows users to obtain full analysis results of ecstasy pills and also serves to provide support agencies with a clear picture of what people are taking.
As things stand, because the government refuses to allow a DIMS type project in the UK, we have to rely on the simple Marquis test, coupled with user comments, better than nothing but clearly not ideal.
Pill testing, however, is a very good way to make contact with users, its a very visual demonstration which can, if done right, open the door to communicating with users and is a vital part of any outreach information service.
For other issues, such as with the case of overly strong LSD for example, DIY will have to rely on feedback from users who are willing to share experiences or by information gained from frontline DIY help.
DIY intends to highlight the danger caused by the disruption of the supply side of drugs, as demanded by prohibition. This leads to ignorance, chaotic behaviour as well as wildly varying doses and purity.
Although outside the recreational scene, it should be noted that most deaths from Heroin are caused by the uncertain nature of the supply side.
Although it is not the aim or intention of DIY to encourage drug use, it has to be accepted that drugs are indeed used. It’s for this reason that harm reduction also includes giving advice on how to use drugs as safely as possible.
Although the government has gone some way in accepting the need for this, some policies make true harm reduction impossible, in particular the “Barry Legg act” - the Public entertainment (drugs misuse) act - is preventing much needed front line work as well as damaging the creative aspects of the culture. DIY would like to see this act repealed as a matter of urgency.
DIY self help
DIY self help can save lives. All users should know danger signs and be on the lookout for other people who might need help. Generally, there is a great willingness to do this especially on the free party circuit, but such willingness is of no use without the skills to apply. A lot can be done with some very basic knowledge, how to deal with cuts and other injuries, knowledge of the recovery position and so on. DIY seeks to encourage all forms of DIY self-help.
DIY also seeks to encourage experienced users to give help and support to novices, in particular how to deal with heavy LSD trips and such like.
Unfortunately, because the government is wedded to the war on drugs, the political nature of recreational use can’t be ignored. Where the prohibition causes real health and safety concerns, these will be highlighted. Groups campaigning for legal reforms have a clear input into this debate and are welcome to contribute to the work of DIY.
DIY is not aligned to any political party, however the good work and sensible policies of the Green Party Drugs groups are acknowledged and because of this, DIY is happy to promote their efforts, as it would be for any other group promoting harm reduction.
General health and safety
Because of the repressive nature of the anti-drug laws, increasingly drug use happens away from licensed venues, sometimes in derelict buildings without proper fire escapes or other basic requirements. In rural areas, parties often take place in remote places where the police cannot close them down. Because of this there are many avoidable injuries and, sadly, some deaths. Ideally these events need to be held in safe, licensed venues but because of the draconian drug laws and other outdated restrictions such as opening hours, this isn’t possible. the only option available at this time is voluntary arrangements with organisers.
DIY is independent of government and is keen to distance itself form the “news management” or “spin” associated with the established agencies. However, it is to hoped that a more realistic approach will be forthcoming and when it is, DIY will be pleased to work with the Drug Action Teams and outreach agencies. DIY acknowledges the good work of Release and Crew2000 in particular and would wish to build bridges with these organisations.