Consumption of drugs always brings certain risks, especially in the case of untested and unresearched NPS. But there are things you can do to reduce the chances of having unwanted consequences of your NPS use. One of these things is making sure you know as much as possible about your drugs.
Some countries in Europe offer the possibility to have your drugs legally tested by a laboratory. This can be done anonymously and for a small fee (or in some cases free of charge). You need to bring by or send the substance you bought, and may need to wait a couple of weeks to receive results. Laboratory test results can show you the quantities of active ingredients in your product. You will know exactly which substances (including NPS) your product contains, and you can receive personal advice on the possible consequences of consumption. This way, you can make an informed decision, but bear in mind that risks will always remain. Sometimes, ‘onsite’ drug checking services are offered at events. The testing here, however, is less thorough than laboratory tests, but it also allows you to get direct advice from professionals.
The Laboratory of Forensic Chemistry and Toxicology of the General National Chemical Laboratory (GNCL) is the only official laboratory in Cyprus, which can conduct analyses about the chemical composition of psychotropic substances.
GNCL receives samples mainly from the Drug Police, the Crime Investigation Agency, the Traffic Department, the local police stations, the British Bases, and the UN. GNCL also receives samples from hospitals and veterinary services.
If a parent worries that his/her child uses any psychotropic substances, he/she can refer to the Emergency Departments or Outpatient Clinics of the General Hospitals of Cyprus to collect urine sample and send it for analysis. The sample will be sent to the Laboratory of Forensic Chemistry and Toxicology of the GNCL. The laboratory can detect cannabis, cocaine, amphetamines, and opioids if the person has occasionally used any within the last 72 hours and up to a week, if the person used continuously. The results will be sent to the appointed doctor.
In addition, the Spanish harm reduction organisation ‘Energy Control’ offers an international drug checking service.
Using a test kit at home can be an option. These can be bought online in certain webshops and through certain organisations. You will be able to see whether some specific (mostly ‘traditional’) drugs are present in your product. A difficulty is that the test kit can only verify the presence of a limited number of drugs. It will not be possible to accurately detect all possible substances (including harmful NPS). Check for instance this informative video on this problem by the Global Drug Survey. Also, a test kit cannot tell you the dosage of the active ingredients (the psychoactive substances). Consuming a dosage that turns out to be too high puts you at serious heightened risk of a range of negative (health) consequences.
Some websites exist that report on tested drugs, so that you can look up your product in an online database. Examples are ‘Pill Reports’ and ‘Ecstasy Data’, where test results for pills sold as ecstasy can be found. But, you will need to rely solely on the outer look of your product! It cannot be verified whether for a pill you bought that has the same colour and logo as a pill in one of the databases actually contains the same ingredients and/or dosages. So, great caution is required. Recently, an app has been made available through which you can search a large international database for many psychoactive drugs.