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Article Analysis: ‘Worth the Test?’ Pragmatism, Pill Testing and Drug Policy in Australia

Drug use among young people has been on the rise. Many young people are engaging in drug use, both at school and at home. The recent deaths among the young people who attended the Australian Music Festivals have stirred many feelings about drug abuse and how it can be controlled. Since the government has tried all the other things and they end up failing, pill testing is now one of the best strategies to help prevent the deaths of young people who take drugs. As much as the country wants to protect the young people from taking drugs, the drug vendors have become very wise and sell the drugs to young people without the government’s knowledge. At this point, Australia’s National Drug Strategy thinks that pill testing will be an excellent preventive measure against drug use overdose.

According to Groves (2018), pill testing is a harm reduction strategy that is used all over the world. The drugs are checked to ensure that the contents will not have severe effects on the users. The thought of using pill testing is thought-provoking since the NDS has to evaluate if it will be effective or not. The Australian drug policy aims to decentralize drug control among young people (Groves, 2018). However, this should be done without going contrary to the law. The politicians and other key actors in the government have changed the discussion about the drug policy. Politicians tend to focus more on the effects of drug use rather than focusing on the causes of drug use. This shows that developing adaptive strategies like the partnership between the police officers and health care professionals is possible (Groves, 2018). The police can catch the drug users and suppliers while the health care professionals take care of them and test the effects of drugs they have taken. Also, the approach helps to focus on the needs of the society rather than focusing on individuals only.

The main question is whether pragmatism should continue or not? The results show a need for a more pragmatic approach because the use and effects of drugs are to be controlled among young people (Groves, 2018). As a result, it becomes crucial to use pill testing to prevent drug use among people. The strategy might seem complicated, but it is doable provided the necessary resources are well distributed. Such policies might face oppositions from society and other sectors, but if it plays a significant role in reducing deaths among the young people, it should be used. According to Groves (2018), pill testing affects the users’ behavior positively. This, therefore, contradicts the claims that pill testing encourages young people to take the drugs more frequently since they know that they will not be harmed. Since pill testing’s objectives are consistent with NDS, it should be adopted to ensure that the lives of young people are protected. Pill testing is not intended to eliminate the effects of drug use, and it is only a harm reduction strategy before a better solution is found.

Pill-testing as a harm reduction strategy: time to have the conversation

The high rates at which many young people are taking drugs in Australia are very alarming. This has triggered the need to develop a harm reduction strategy that will see how drug use among young people reduces. Controlling the drug market is worse since the government stakeholders, for example, politicians, are in this industry. Following many attempts to eliminate drug use among young people but with no success, the Australian National Drug Strategy has chosen pill testing. Harm reduction is a pillar of the ANDS, although other governments are not ready to use pill testing as a harm reduction strategy. The main question regarding this is; Will pill testing promote the use of drug use among young people? Are the young people ready to face the use of pill testing, or will they still take the drugs even before they are tested?

The author of the article has explored two pill-checking models. The first model is when the pill results are given to the patron who submitted the pill for testing. After this, the results are announced to the public (Morgan & Jones, 2019). Mainly, the public is informed about the dangerous pills only and why they should not take them. Secondly, the results are posted to the public without going through the health care patron first (Morgan & Jones, 2019). The second model is used in the USA and the Netherlands. Among the two models, I think the second model is more applicable since the public should know about all the effects of the drugs they are taking. If the information goes through the patrol as in the first model, it can be altered; hence wrong information will be given to the people.

Pill testing data should be recorded to track its effects on the users. This will help compare the impact of pill testing on the deaths of young people so that the government can decide if it is a promising harm reduction strategy. For pill testing to work, the public must be educated about it (Morgan & Jones, 2019). Educating the public can be done through social media and public education. Campaigns can be carried out so that more people learn the importance of taking drugs that have undergone pill testing. Some of the arguments against pill testing include that the testing technique does not identify all the drug components (Morgan & Jones, 2019). In this case, I do not think that it should be abolished since as long as the harmful elements are identified, then pill testing serves harm reduction. Another argument is that the techniques used do not provide a quantitative analysis of the pills (Morgan & Jones, 2019). In this case, the government can provide better techniques that will see the quantitative analysis being perfect. Policymakers also complain about the use of pill testing. However, all these complaints can be addressed, and the strategy embraced fully. Therefore, pill testing is one of the perfect ways to reduce death among young people due to drug use.


Groves, A. (2018). ‘Worth the Test?’ Pragmatism, Pill Testing and Drug Policy in Australia. Harm Reduction Journal15(1), 1-13. doi:10.1186/s12954-018-0216-z

Morgan, J., & Jones, A. (2019). Pill-testing as a Harm Reduction Strategy: Time to Have the Conversation. Perspectives, 447-448. doi:10.5694/mja2.50385


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