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Does Pill Testing Encourage Drug Use at Music Festivals and do More Harm Than Good?


Pill testing is a measure created to warn against harmful or unwarranted ingredients, moreover to give people more education on drugs that are harmful and not harmful to ensure a safe environment. Evidence shows that pill testing can be an effective approach, lives can be saved and a breakthrough in medical research could spring about. However many have disagreed with pill testing, stating that it does more harm than good. This essay seeks to uncover whether, there is any good in pill testing or should it be shut down due to the harmfulness it poses onto society. Further research has shown a hike in deaths due to pill testing in festivals. Two arguments are at play and through this research study a definitive answer can be found. Perhaps this research can inspire a brand-new solution towards pill testing.


According to, Gotsis (2018) the use of illicit drugs across Australia has been a major safety concern because of the number of deaths it has caused, despite the successful pill testing trial that happened at Canberra’s Groovin the Moo festival in April 2018 (Lyons, 2019). Both Christmas and New Year’s holidays had seen two overdose deaths and several hospitalisations at music festivals (Lyons, 2019). And because of these tragic deaths political leaders have been reluctant to implement pill testing in music festivals. The deputy of Queensland’s Liberal National had stated that, “These substances are illegal and for a reason, a single dose can kill and that young people do not need drugs to have a good time at concerts.” New South Wales Premier, Gladys Berejiklian expressed her concerns on pill testing stating that it would give people a ‘false sense of security’ (Rota, 2019). Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, ruled out pill testing under his leadership stating that there is no such thing as precautionary measures for taking the correct dosage in substances. Further disagreement’s against pill testing came from Victoria’s Health Minister Martin Foley who stated that pill testing is potentially fatal to many people. Despite the negative feedback on pill testing some folks share positive views towards pill testing. A recent survey was conducted by Essential Report that expresses the public’s views, 59% of those that participated in the survey are in full support for pill testing and only 17% oppose it. Dr. Hester Wilson who is Chair of the RACGP has said that, pill testing saves lives. Associate Professor David Caldicott who is the designer of the Groovin the Moo pill testing trial, is in full support due to the positive results he yielded during the test trial. Many others have argued that the only way for safe consumption in drugs is by testing them.

Research Design and Methods

Research question
This research design seeks to answer the burning question of whether or not pill testing should become a regular practice in festivals or is it too harmful for the public population.
Currently there has been mixed reactions on the topic at hand. We’ve witnessed prominent figures in society disagree and a consensus is yet to be reached on what should the next step be in moving forward with regards to pill testing.

Current state of affairs

Pill testing came as a resort to decrease the number of deaths that have occurred in music festivals, night clubs and party-related overdoses hence public health experts and commentators promoted pill testing as an intervention (Thomas, 2018).
The pro’s and cons for pill testing:


A change in the black market has occurred due to publicly identifying harmful drugs. Pill testing booths can provide support and information to the public. Pill testing allows for data to be captured for long-term use in the drug market and potentially be used to test against new and unexpected drugs. Pill testing allows for scientific research to test for behavioural changes.


Pill testing requires full functioning laboratories for proper analysis, on site drug testing provides inconclusive results. On-site testing kits for pill testing are limited therefore harmful substances cannot be detected. Concentrated and high doses of ecstasy and methamphetamine cannot be tested on-site, these substances have proven to be fatal. New designer drugs cannot be tested on-site such as NBOMe and N-Bomb, which have been linked to three deaths that occurred in Melbourne in 2017.
In light of the what is known on the pro’s and cons of pill testing, New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian had said that pill testing will not work and instead a green light is given towards people to consume substances that will kill them in the end (Willis, 2018).

What is pill testing and how does it actually work?

In simple terms pill testing is a drug check that provides people with the information about the content within illicit substances (Gotsis, 2018).
The idea behind pill testing is to empower people with the education on drugs so that they can make informed decisions on what they potentially might put in their bodies. Recreational drugs are unfortunately not regulated and because there are no laws they abide by, there could possibly be drug contamination or poisoning.
In Australian there has only been one trial pill testing that took place at the Canberra Groovin the Moo festival in April. These were the procedures that took place, possibly a blueprint for future pill testing practices (Willis, 2018) :
• The participant is met by a “harm reduction worker”, steps and processes are explained and advised that consuming drugs is at your own risk.
• The pill or capsule is weighed and photographed by the chemist and explains the test results.
• The sample is analysed using a FTIR spectrophotometer, this detects substances through an infrared beam, the sample is checked against a library of 30 000 substances.
• The sample is then labelled against three different classifications:
White- symbolizes that the drug is what you had suspected.
Yellow-symbolizes that the drug isn’t what you expected.
Red-symbolizes that the substance as harmful effects.
• Information is then relayed to the participant by a medical practitioner on what was found, dangers are then outlined.
• The participant is then directed to a counsellor who will provide more information on the risks as well as ways to reduce their risk.
• Before the participant leaves they are advised to an amnesty bin that they can use to dispose of any drugs they might have.
This testing station was a success to those involved however many still hold negative views. Dr. Caldicott had said that all who participant will not be told at any stage that the drugs that their using are safe (Hawthorne, 2018). As a response to Premier Berejiklian who stated that pill testing will provide a false sense of security (Schneider et al, 2016). Pill testing targets those who already have the intention of consuming illicit substances, it is to their benefit, to help mitigate the risks that their taking. Alcohol and Drug Foundation have stated that drug checking does not promote illicit drug taking, those that choose to have their drugs checked means that they already have an intention to use them (Commonwealth of Australia, 2019).

Evidence showing positivity towards pill testing

The current state shows that evidence encouraging pill testing is growing, behavioural changes have occurred due individuals being well informed on the drugs that their taking. A UK study (Ritter, 2019) published that 20% of service users disposed of their drugs when their testing came back to not what they thought it would be, further more 2/3 of UK festival goers who tested their samples that came back mismatched also disposed of their drugs. Pill testing could be a worldwide benefit, saving millions of lives. The evaluation taken at the Moo festival in Canberra showed 35% of patrons who tested their drugs stated they would change their behaviour towards drugs, 18% stated they will not be consuming the drug and 12% stated they would consume less.

Research design

The matter at hand is that the ascertain population of people unfortunately consume drugs for whatever reasons they have however these drugs are unregulated and many have died because of the lack of knowledge they had before consuming them. This is a problem affecting society therefore it is the public that should have a say therefore the research design needed requires the participation of the public in large volumes. Should there be enough responses and views from the public about pill testing then a definitive answer will be giving on whether or not there should be pill testing stations at festivals.


The research design will come in a form of an online survey but to gain the audiences that it needs, it needs to be dispensed on a platform that has a large number of users. Statistics have proven and shown that it is younger people consuming illicit drugs therefore it is their say that counts the most. To find young people in large numbers online requires a strategic mindset.
Tools needed for this research are; laptop, online survey with a simple question of whether pill-testing should be allowed in festivals and a little bit of background information and spreadsheets to capture all of the data.

Research Methods

This research will be a quantitative research analysis that will sort through the responses of the general public. All information will be captured in a statistical format that way from the data collected we will know whether the response is positive or negative. This online survey will be put on Facebook mainly because Facebook has 2.23 billion users with a billion users in a single month. The frequent users of Facebook is generally a younger crowd, a crowd that consumes some form of illicit drugs. This survey is the best way of generating a massive response towards the research question also for effective change to occur. If the masses come out in numbers political leaders do not have a choice but to listen and grant the requests of the public. This survey will be on Facebook for a during of one month, that allows enough time for the audience to be aware of the current state of affairs and for them to answer the survey question. This survey question will give background information on pill testing, it’s benefits, the dangers of drugs, the aim behind pill testing and lastly the question if there should be pill testing in festivals. It will be a simple yes or no response. All the yes and no responses will be captured on a spreadsheet and the predominant answer will be the general view of the public and a definitive answer will pave the way forward to whether or not drug testing in festivals should be allowed and that it does more good than harm.


Based on the information that already exists on pill testing, the intended online survey will yield positive results towards pill testing in festivals. Young people want to be aware of what they consume so that they know that their safe.


The law and order approach to the use of illicit drugs does not work, abolishing drugs, confiscating drugs, criminalising drugs has not decreased the use of drugs. As a matter of fact the number of people taking substances have increased ("Pill Testing Saves Lives | The Australian Greens", n.d.). A new policy that came into practice in recent times, National Drug Strategy 2017-2026; a ten year project aiming to reduce and prevent harm caused by drugs is in full support and at the forefront for pill testing ("National Drug Strategy", n.d.). This policy could be fruitful in educating and preserving young people’s lives.


Many young good, talented people will choose to consume various illicit substances in pursuit of having a good time. There is a moral obligation to minimise the risks involved. Health professionals have the technology and skill, government has all the resources to make the decision to try a different approach towards drug use. The approval of law enforcement and advocacy of politicians towards pill testing is needed. Once all parties come together, lives could be saved others could be restored (Savulescu, Rochford & D'Hotman, 2016). As a people we all have the obligation to keep each other safe moreover to look out for one another. Illicit drugs are being consumed in large quantities and the only way to reduce the numbers is to advocate for pill testing. Thus more studies need to be conducted aside from the Moo festival in Canberra and for federal government to release all the results publicly (Carmody, 2018).


Drugs are a reality and available to all, law enforcement has failed in combating drug cartels to stop the selling of drugs. All that can be done is to ensure that every individual with the intention to consume illicit substances has the knowledge and education of what the possible consequence might be. This research evidence towards pill testing shows that instead of an incline in people taking drugs there has been a drop and those that intend to consume drugs are aware of the possible effects. Pill testing at music festival does not encourage or do more harm, with or without pill testing members of society will consume illicit substances. Where is the harm in informing them of what their taking? Pill testing should be encouraged because positive results have been yielded far more than law enforcement fighting against drug consummation. This website contains numerous free social work research topics. Everyone can use them for free to create their own assignments and get the highest grades.

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