Bringing drug use out of the dark
2019-01-20 19:02

Despite all the warnings, drug-related deaths in Britain are at an all-time high. A pioneering NGO has been testing substances at UK festivals for four years to help revellers stay safe – and could now be coming to a city near you


It takes an hour for Patrick’s favourite Indian restaurant to deliver a curry to his house in south London. His drug dealer, by contrast, typically dispatches his order within 30 minutes. “Often they get here in 10,” claims Patrick (not his real name), who works in the events industry. “It’s quicker than ordering an Uber.”

帕特里克最喜欢的印度餐厅需要一个小时才能将咖喱送到他位于伦敦南部的房子里。相比之下,他的毒贩通常会在30分钟内派遣出他的订单订单。 “通常他们会在10分钟到达这里,”在展销会行业工作的帕特里克(不是他的真名)说道。 “这比订购优步更快。”

He orders his substance of choice – usually ecstasy – over an encrypted messaging app, which his dealer uses to advertise special promotions. “He had a sale on Black Friday,” says Patrick. “It’s nuts.”

他通过一个加密的信息应用程序订购他选择的产品(通常是摇*丸),这款应用是他的经销商用它来宣传特别促销活动做广告的。 “他在黑色星期五大甩卖,”帕特里克说。 “真是疯了。”

When dealers are able to provide a more expedient service than Uber, in one of the world’s most surveilled cities, it’s clear that the ‘war on drugs’ is not being won. A more sobering indication is this: drug-related deaths in Britain are at their highest level since records began, outstripping the number of people killed on the roads. Seven people a day are dying from overdoses.

在世界上最受监控的城市之一,当经销商能够提供比Uber 更快捷的服务时,很明显,“禁毒战争”并没有打赢。一个更令人清醒的迹象是:英国与毒品有关的死亡人数达到了有记录以来的最高水平,超过了在道路上死亡的人数。每天有七个人因服药过量而死亡。

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The UK government remains wedded to prohibition policies, which has given criminals exclusive control of an unregulated market worth around £5.3 billion (according to the Home Office’s own estimates).


Against this backdrop of failing policies and rising deaths, however, a fledgling harm-reduction organisation called The Loop aims to give users some reassurance. Based in Manchester, the not-for-profit community interest company has had a busy summer at some of Britain’s leading music festivals – including Boomtown and Bestival – where it has been providing free drugs-testing for revellers. More than 8,000 people accessed the service at UK festivals this year.


It works like this: partygoers who have smuggled drugs into a festival – or bought them on-site – can anonymously and without fear of prosecution get their substances tested at The Loop’s pop-up lab. After its chemists test the drugs, The Loop’s volunteer harm-reduction officers – who work as healthcare professionals – will sit down with partygoers for short consultations.

它的作用是这样的:那些将毒品走私到节日中或者在现场购买的派对者可以匿名,不必担心被起诉,并在The Loop的弹出式实验室对他们的药物进行检测。在化学家对这些药物进行测试后,The Loop的志愿者-减少减害的官员 - 作为医疗保健的专业人员 - 将与参加聚会的人坐下来进行简短的磋商。

For the second year, The Loop tested drugs at Boomtown festival in Hampshire this summer. Image: Charlie Raven

第二年,The Loop在今年夏天在汉普郡的新兴城镇音乐节上进行了药物的测试。图片:查理·雷文

The Loop claims most of its clients are in their early 20s, but says the service has been accessed by people as young as 16 and as old as 72.

The Loop声称其大多数客户都在20岁出头,但表示这项服务已经被年仅16岁到72岁的人所访问过。

“Most of these people have never spoken to a healthcare professional about their drug use before,” says Fiona Measham, The Loop’s founder. “They could be out in the festival enjoying themselves, but instead they’ve chosen to queue up – often in the rain – to ask questions about drugs and their effects. It’s heartening to see.”

The Loop的创始人菲奥娜·没瑟姆说:“这些人的大多数之前从未与医疗保健专业人士谈过他们的药物使用问题”.“他们可以在节日里里享受自己,但他们却选择排队 - 通常在雨中 - 提出有关毒品极其影响的问题。很高兴看到这些令人振奋的。”

If people ask directly whether they should take the drug, The Loop’s team answers ‘no’, but realistically, they say, that advice will not always be heeded, or even sought.

如果人们直接询问他们是否应该服用这种药物,The Loop的团队会回答'不',但实际上,他们说,这种建议并不总是会被听从,甚至不会被追求。

After speaking to advisors, some revellers (10-15 per cent, Measham estimates) surrender their stash, asking The Loop to dispose of it. The rest proceed, albeit with a better understanding of dosages, side effects and what to do if they feel unwell.

在与顾客交谈后,一些狂欢者(据Measham 估计,10%至15%,)交出了他们的毒品,要求The Loop将其处理掉。其余的继续进行。尽管他们更好的理解了剂量,副作用,以及如果他们感到不舒服应该怎么做。

There’s not enough data to confirm whether or not The Loop is saving lives, though it seems likely. However, there is evidence to suggest the service has reduced substance-related medical emergencies.


They could be out in the festival enjoying themselves, but instead they’ve chosen to queue up – often in the rain – to ask questions about drugs and their effects. It’s heartening to see

他们可以在节日里里享受自己,但他们却选择排队 - 通常在雨中 - 提出有关毒品极其影响的问题。很高兴看到这些令人振奋的。”

The Loop started testing drugs at festivals in 2014 and through its work, has been able to flag dangerous new trends. This summer, for instance, it found pentylone being mis-sold as MDMA (a powdered form of ecstasy); the drugs look and smell the same, but while the latter gives users a euphoric high for a few hours, the former causes sleepless nights, paranoia and psychosis. Volunteers use social media to send alerts out to revellers. “If you can get that information to users, they won’t take the drug,” says Measham.

The Loop在2014年开始测试药物,通过它的工作,已经能够标出危险的新趋势。例如,今年夏天,它发现戊酮被错误地销售为MDMA(一种粉末状的*丸);药物外观和气味都是一样的,但后者给使用者带来了几个小时的兴奋,前者导致失眠、偏执和精神病。志愿者利用社交媒体向狂欢者发送警报。 “如果你能把这些信息告诉使用者,他们就不会服用这种药物了。”Measham 说。

Tests also detected other cutting agents in drugs, from sugar and ground up anti-malarial tablets to plaster of Paris and bodybuilding supplements.


Another concerning development identified by The Loop is that drugs, particularly ******e and ecstasy, are getting stronger. Dosages that might have been fine a couple of decades ago could now be fatal. “Young people are dying because they are taking too much,” says Measham. “It’s a tragic waste of young ***** life.”

另一个被The Loop确定的有关发展的是药物,特别是******和*丸,正在变得越来越强大。几十年前可能没事的剂量现在可能是致命的。 “年轻人正在死亡,因为他们服用的太多了,”米莎姆说。 “这是对年轻人生命的一种悲惨浪费。”

At home on the Isle of Man, Ray Lakeman is all too aware of the dangers posed by super-strength drugs. In 2014, his sons – Torin, 19, a physics student at Aberystwyth University and Jacques, 20, a hotel employee in London – met up in Manchester to watch their beloved United play Hull at Old Trafford. After the game they took MDMA, which Torin had bought from the dark web. It killed them both.

在马恩岛的家中,雷·拉克曼(RayLakeman)非常清楚超强力药物所带来的危险。 2014年,他的儿子 - 他的儿子-19岁的托林(Torin)和20岁的伦敦酒店员工雅克(Jacques)-都是阿伯里斯威斯大学物理专业的学生。在曼彻斯特相识,观看他们心爱的曼联在老特拉福德打赫尔城。游戏结束后,他们拿走了都灵从黑暗网络上买来的MDMA。他俩都死了。

An inquest into the boys’ deaths found the MDMA they had taken was five to six times stronger than the so-called ‘lethal dose’. “Torin didn’t know how strong it was, but it was enough to kill him and his brother and about 20 other people,” says Lakeman. “I went to the inquest and it was clear to me that, had my boys known what they were doing, they might still be alive today.”

一项针对男孩死亡的调查发现,他们所服用MDMA 比所谓的“致命剂量”强五到六倍。 “托林不知道它有多强,但这足以杀死他和他的兄弟以及其他大约20人,”莱克曼说。 “我去了审讯,我很清楚,如果我的孩子们知道他们在做什么,他们今天可能还活着。”

Does he think a service like The Loop could have saved them? “I’m not sure,” he says, honestly. “What The Loop are proving is that having your drugs tested can make them safer, but we have to live with the fact that not everyone is going to have them tested.”

他认为像The Loop这样的服务可以拯救他们吗? “我不确定,”他老实说道。 “The Loop证明的是,让你的药物经过测试可以使它们更安全,但我们必须接受事实的是,并不是每个人都会对它们进行测试。”

Until this summer, The Loop’s activities had been limited to festivals and nightclubs, but in May the charity launched a pop-up testing facility in Bristol. By the end of the year, Measham hopes The Loop will be up and running in five other as-yet-undisclosed cities. Urban laboratories like this, she believes, could help her team reach people from more disadvantaged backgrounds, as well as those with more entrenched drug habits (festival-goers typically pay considerable ticket fees and often use party drugs casually).

到今年夏天之前,The Loop的活动仅限于节日和夜总会,但在5月,慈善组织在布里斯托尔推出了一个弹出式测试设施。到今年年底,米莎姆希望The Loop将在其他五个尚未公开的城市中启动并运行。她相信,像这样的城市实验室可以帮助她的团队接触来自更弱势背景的人,以及那些有更根深蒂固的吸毒习惯的人(参加节日的人通常会支付相当高的门票费,并经常随意使用派对中的药物)。

Fiona Measham from The Loop. Image: Pippa Rankin

来自The Loop的菲奥娜·米莎姆。图片:皮帕·兰金

To help finance this expansion The Loop has launched a crowdfunding campaign. It has been championed by Richard Branson, and Chemical X – the anonymous artist – has lent his support by donating a £50,000 piece of art for The Loop to give away.

为了帮助这一扩张,The Loop发起了一场众筹活动 。它一直受到理查德·布兰森的支持,而匿名化学X也给予了支持,捐赠了一件5万英镑的艺术作品,供the loop捐赠。

Not everyone is convinced. Critics fear that the NGO, which works closely with the police and local authorities, normalises or even legitimises drug taking. On the other hand, anyone who has been to a festival or nightclub recently will tell you that many people consider drug use normal.


But even The Loop’s supporters don’t believe it is a long-term solution to Britain’s growing problem with drugs. “I think the work of The Loop is absolutely brilliant and a completely necessary lifesaver, but it’s just a sticking plaster,” says Jane Slater, campaign manager at Anyone’s Child, an international network of people who have lost loved ones to drugs. Her organisation campaigns for the full legalisation and regulation of drugs.

但是,即使是The Loop的支持者也不相信这是解决英国日益严重的毒品问题的长期办法。 “我认为The Loop的工作绝对出色的,是一种完全必要的救命稻草,但它只是一块膏药,”“任何孩子”(Anyone’s Child)的运动竞选经理简·斯莱特(Jane Slater)说,这是一个国际性的网络,里面有因毒品失去亲人的人,她的组织致力于毒品的合法化和管制。

Even factions within the UK Conservative party, which has traditionally taken a hard line on drugs, say current policy isn’t fit for purpose. Writing in the Daily Telegraph recently, William Hague suggested that the idea class B drug ******** could be “driven off the streets and out of people’s lives by the state is nothing short of deluded”.

即使是传统上对毒品采取严厉措施的英国保守党内部的派别也表示,目前的政策并不适合。威廉·黑格(William Hague)“每日电讯报”上写道,B级药物的概念可能是“被政府赶出街头,脱离人们的生活,这是一种欺骗”。

Other nations seem to agree. In October, Canada became the first G7 nation to legalise marijuana for recreational use. Several states in the US have also legalised recreational ********, as have Uruguay and Georgia.

其他国家似乎也同意。 10月,加拿大成为第一个将大*合法化用于娱乐用途的G7国家。美国的一些州也将娱乐活动合法化,乌拉圭和格鲁吉亚也是如此。

Last year at Boomtown the medical team estimated that there was a 25 per cent reduction in drug-related medical problems because we were on site


Portugal, meanwhile, has chosen to decriminalise all drugs. Rather than being prosecuted, users caught with a personal supply are steered towards harm-reduction services where support is available.


Since implementing the policy in 2001, rates of drug- related deaths, incarceration and infection have reportedly plummeted (though a small rise in drug-related deaths has been recorded in the last couple of years).


Lakeman also supports the legalisation and regulation route. “We regulate everything, so why don’t we do it with drugs?” he questions. “Instead we’re just handing [the market] to criminals who are reaping billions from it.

莱克曼还支持合法化和监管路线。 “我们管理一切,为什么不用毒品来处理呢?“他提问。“相反,我们只是把(市场)交给犯罪分子,他们从中获利数十亿。

“I don’t want what happened to my family happening to anybody else, but the law as it is isn’t stopping it – in fact it’s getting worse. What more evidence do we need?”

“我不希望我家发生的事情发生在其他任何人身上,但法律并没有阻止它 - 事实上它正在变得更糟。我们还需要什么证据吗?“

Featured image: ‘branded’ ecstasy (MDMA) pills. Credit: Science Photo Library


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