How Legit Are DIY Drug Testing Kits?

Can DIY drug testing kits help to determine whether your drugs are safe? We explore.

To trust or not to trust.

Your dealer says it’s the good stuff, but how can you be so sure? DIY drug testing kits are legal and you can buy them off the internet to test the safety of your drugs before taking them. Sounds legit right? Sadly not always – we explore the pros and cons of using them.

How does it work?

Depending on the drugs you’re planning on taking, you’ll buy a kit specific to that drug. Kits are available for the most common drugs including MDMA, cocaine and ketamine. If you’ve bought MDMA for example, you’ll buy a kit to test for the presence of MDMA. Then in theory, the kit tells you whether your drugs contain any nasties or whether you’ve been fobbed off with a baggie full of talc.  

Once your kit arrives, you’ll need to don your Breaking Bad-style goggles and gloves. You’ll place a tiny scraping of your drugs onto a plate and drop the testing solution onto it. Next you’ll observe the colour change and compare it to the reference chart. The reference chart will tell you what colour your drug should be and what other colours mean. For example, according to the ‘Marquis’ testing method, MDMA will go purple/ black whereas PMA (a much stronger and more dangerous drug often sold as MDMA) will show no colour change.

How accurate is it?

The short answer to that question is not very. For example, the test will not pick up every type of ‘baddie’ – so just because your results say your pill contains MDMA, it can’t guarantee it hasn’t been cut with other – potential deadly – substances.

Some tests are slightly more sophisticated and will include chemicals to test for more than one substance. These tests require you to test several scrapings from your drugs. They might, for example, be looking for substances like PMA, PMMA and MDA which are dangerous because they’re stronger than MDMA and often take longer to take effect meaning people double-dose when they don’t feel a high. But despite testing for more of the baddies, these tests can still miss other potentially harmful substances.

Testing companies also state that lighting and impurities can alter your tests results. Basically, unless you’re a mastermind chemist, results are pretty ambiguous.  

Are they better than nothing?

The fact that you’re pausing to think about drug safety is great. The more you consider what you’re taking and where your drugs come from, the more likely you are to be safe. But unfortunately, at this point, testing kits just aren’t reliable enough. Some people argue that testing is better than blindly chucking mystery drugs into your bod, but the bottom line is, if you decide to use the tests, don’t take results as gospel. Even if your results look safe, remember:

  • Don’t double dose, especially if you’re waiting to come up. Give it time for the drug to kick in before you chow down more.
  • Be around trustworthy friends who can look after you if anything goes awry. Make sure they know what you’ve taken, and when you’ve taken it.
  • Don’t mix your drugs as combinations of drugs can have unexpected effects on the body.
  • Stay hydrated with sips of water but don’t drink too much as this has its own risks.

Is there a safer alternative?

More accurate drugs testing does exist but it’s not widely available. Organisations like The Loop provide on-site forensic drug testing at some festivals run by experienced chemists. At their tents you can anonymously drop off your drugs to have them tested. The results are more reliable than home testing kits but remember that ‘unadulterated’ drugs can still be dangerous – especially if taken in high doses or when mixed with other drugs.   

Next Steps

  • Addaction helps people recover from drug and alcohol addictions.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

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Updated on 08-Apr-2019

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