Helena Valente is a Psychologist, a postgraduate in Human Rights at the University of Minho Law School and a PhD candidate in Psychology at the Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences of the University of Porto. Helena's research evaluates community intervention programs, particularly drug checking services. She has been working with people who use drugs since 2004 and is currently a board member of Kosmicare Association, where she provides scientific and technical supervision.
Predicting the use of drug checking services in a sample of testers and non-testers at Boom Festival: the relevance of harm reduction strategies and drug use patterns.
Purpose: Recent studies have shown that people who attend electronic dance music events (EDM) and use drug checking services (DCS) are a predominantly white male, highly educated middle-class population. However, there is still a lack of data beyond sociodemographic characteristics that must be addressed. This paper aims to describe the drug use patterns and protective behaviour strategies (PBS) employed by testers and non-testers at Boom Festival 2018 and analyze the relationship between these behaviours and the decision to use the DCS.
Approach: This is exploratory research based on a cross-sectional design using baseline data collected at the Boom Festival from testers (N = 343) and non-testers (N=115).
Findings: Non-testers presented, in general, slightly higher frequencies of use for most drugs, whereas testers tended to adopt PBS more frequently. Moreover, testers planned their drug use more often than non-testers and set more limits on the amount of drugs they used in one session. Both of these behaviours work as predictors for using the DCS.
Originality: This paper is the first to compare the demographics, drug use, and PBS adoption of DCS users with non-users who attended the same festival.
Practical implications: Our data suggest that DCS might not be easily accessible to all PWUDs, reaching almost exclusively highly educated people that already apply several harm reduction strategies. Actions should be taken to promote service accessibility.