The Welfare Officers of three students unions took to the podium in the Oak Room of Dublin’s Mansion House on Friday last, to jointly launch the “What’s in the Pill?” harm reduction campaign .The initiative has been established with the assistance of the Ana Liffey Drug Project (ALDP) and is the first if its kind in Ireland.
Harm reduction is a theory in public health policy that aims to reduce the damage caused to individuals who elect to use controlled substances. In a recent Oireachtas committee hearing on the subject, the majority of presentations made on the subject of decriminalization of the possession of small amounts of controlled substances alluded to the shifting nature of the public perception of drugs, specifically referencing an increase in support for a harm reduction model.
Tony Duffin, director of the ALDP surmised the campaign, explaining that “It’s not possible to tell what’s in a pill by sight, smell or taste. While PMA and PMMA are widely known substances which are commonly found in what is sold as ecstasy, there are many others which are not so well known. It was great to work with the universities on what is a pragmatic and helpful resource. Hopefully, it will help many students to make safer decisions.”
Clare O’Connor, welfare officer of UCDSU echoed the sentiments of her counterparts in “acknowledging that recreational drug use does happen around Ireland and we’re trying to put in place a harm reduction strategy in that context. We need to engage people taking drugs with information like this which could help prevent loss of life.”
The campaign launch comes in the wake of a number of overdoses both at home and abroad related to chemicals such as PMMA and PMA which have been found to be mixed into pills.
Identical posters are to be distributed across the campuses of the three universities involved. The posters will advise students considering using substances such as MDMA of the best ways in which to minimise the damage to their bodies in doing so.
Officially launched by the Lord Mayor of Dublin Councillor Criona Ni Dhalaigh, the event was also attended by Minister of State with Responsibility for the National Drugs Strategy Aodhán O ‘Ríordáin.
While the minister admitted that he himself would advocate a “drug free lifestyle”, he added that “Drug use is a health issue, which affects all strata of society and it is important to make sure that people have the information they need to make healthy choices.”
The campaign is to be rolled out across the three participating campuses over the coming weeks. More information can be found at drugs.ie/whatsinthepill