Drug checking clinics

We are helping the NZ Drug Foundation to promote clinics happening in close proximity to our campuses.

Drug checking saves lives

Drug checking operates on the principles of harm reduction. We know that just telling people not to take drugs doesn’t work. If people are choosing to take drugs, they need the support and services to do so as safely as possible.

Drug related harm often comes from using an unknown substance, using too much, or using in a harmful way. If you don’t know what you’re really taking, it’s harder to know how to stay safer. Drug checking can help reduce risk by providing people with information about what they’re really taking so they can make more informed, and often safer, decisions about their drug use.


How do you check the drugs?

There are two main ways drugs are tested:

  1. With reagent tests - chemicals that change colour when a certain substance is detected (reagent tests can only indicate the presence of a drug, not determine what else is in a substance, they may not be useful in situations where there is a mixture of substances) OR
  2. With an infrared spectrometer – a scientific machine that gives a reading of your drug and matches it against a database of substances.

Fentanyl tests are used on all opioids and whenever the spectrometer indicates a possible fentanyl presence. Fentanyl is a potent opioid that can lead to overdose.

Is drug checking legal?

New Zealand is the first country to legalise drug checking. In 2021, Parliament passed a law to permanently legalise drug checking. This legal status means that events and organisations, such as Student Associations, can advertise drug checking clinics without fear of legal repercussions. Drug checking staff and volunteers can handle substances legally and can be in possession of small amounts of substances while they are sending these off for further testing.

Most reassuringly, it means police cannot use a client’s presence at a drug checking event as evidence in drug convictions.

Is there a cost?

Drug checking is free and discreet. The drug checking process itself can take around 15 minutes, but sometimes longer wait times can be expected.

People bring their substance and drop it off to the drug checking team, who take a small sample - about a matchstick head worth. The substance is drug checked in front of the client, using reagents and the infrared spectrometer. Afterwards, drug checkers have a private conversation with the client to review the results and discuss harm reduction.

Sometimes a contactless method is used, which means the drug checking does not happen in front of clients. Clients drop their substance off to the team and are allocated a number. They can wait at the venue or are free to leave and come back later. On their return, they are given their results and have a conversation with a drug checker about harm reduction.

If the results show the substance is not what the client thought, they are offered the opportunity to dispose of the substance in bleach. 50% - 75% of people choose not to take substances when it was not what they thought it would be. This is optional and at no stage are substances confiscated.

The entire process is confidential, with no personal information being recorded.

Harm reduction

The drug checking team have harm reduction conversations with clients throughout the drug checking process. Conversations can consist of how the person might consume the drug, with an emphasis on safer methods. Strategies and ways to stay safe while under the influence of drugs are discussed, such as: not combining substances (including prescribed medication), taking small amounts and waiting one to two hours before taking more, not using alone and having a plan to check in on friends. Advice is given around when and how to seek medical help if needed.

This is also an opportunity for people using the service to share harm reduction tips that work for them and solidify their own knowledge of how to be safer. These tips can be shared to others, ensuring that people who use the service have a voice and are being given the most up to date advice and information.

Clinic schedule

Date Time
Thursday 10 August 3-7pm
Saturday 19 August 11am-3pm
Thursday 14 September 3-7pm
Saturday 23 September 11am-3pm
Thursday 19 October 3-7pm
Saturday 21 October 11am-3pm
Saturday 18 November 11am-3pm
Thursday 14 December 3-7pm

Should you have any additional questions or feedback about the drug checking clinics, please email wellbeing@auckland.ac.nz