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Only one visitor makes use of drug testing clinic

NZ drug foundation held a pop-up testing clinic for powdered drugs in Masterton last Thursday after 12 people were hospitalised in Wairarapa with fentanyl overdoses.PHOTO/FILE

The New Zealand Drug Foundation held two pop-up testing clinics last week after 12 Wairarapa residents overdosed on fentanyl.

But only one person took the opportunity to test their drugs in Masterton. Numbers for the Carterton clinic were not provided.

Masterton Drugs Project manager, who hosted the clinic on their site at Hope St, said short notice of the pop-up could explain why so few people jumped on board.

She said one person visited the drug checking clinic on Thursday, but did not know the results of the test.

The manager said the Drugs Project had given away “a fair few” naloxone nasal spray kits over the past week, but before last week’s incidents, only had injection opioid reversal kits available.

She said there had not been a huge uptake in the take-home fentanyl testing strips.

New Zealand Drug Foundation executive director Sarah Helm said the Drugs Project had been distributing fentanyl test strips through its outlets and online store since the overdoses on Matariki weekend.

She said the foundation did not have the number of strips distributed in Wairarapa, but since Monday, June 27, 303 strips had been distributed from online orders and 76 from outlets nationwide.

Helm said fentanyl had not been found at any drug checking clinics so far.

“It’s great that people around the country have got the message to test their drugs after [Matariki] weekend’s incident.

“We continue to encourage everyone to use either at-home testing or in-person drug checking clinics to check what’s in their drugs.”

She said the foundation was pleased that it was able to hold pop-up drug checking clinics at such short notice in communities around Wairarapa and Wellington.

“Our experience has taught us that when we hold drug checking clinics in a community for the first time, it can take a while for awareness and trust to build –and that’s totally natural.”

Helm said drug checking was free, legal, and non-judgmental.

“It’s discreet and confidential too – we aren’t even allowed to ask your name.”

She said if someone wanted their drugs checked, all they needed to do was bring a sample the size of a matchstick head.

Helm said although the pop-ups were in response to fentanyl being found in white powder, people could still bring along any substance they wanted checked.

Police said its investigation team was following positive lines of inquiry about where the substance came from and who sold it.

Grace Prior
Grace Prior
Grace Prior is a senior reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age with a keen interest in environmental issues. Grace is the paper’s health reporter and regularly covers the rural sector, weather, Greater Wellington Regional Council, and coastal stories.

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