Drug Checking - From Guerrilla to Government Agent: the Full Spectrum of Drug Checking Services


Drug checking

Drug checking is an umbrella term for services that enable the public to have substances of concern analysed and receive personalised harm reduction advice, most usually through a consultation or brief intervention. Drug checking is expanding around the world and is enjoying increased interest from governments and policy makers, as evidenced by the development of the world’s first government drug checking licensing scheme in New Zealand. Drug checking has also enjoyed increased scientific interest. However, the existing literature has tended to focus on meso level and process perspectives on drug checking such as operational design,  test results and evaluation of technologies. Both macro (national, international) level and micro (individual) level considerations - such as behaviour change, public health outcomes, and debates surrounding drug checking and its relationship to harm reduction community activism, PWUD advocacy and wider drug policy debates - have received less attention. Most recently, drug checking services worldwide are facing significant challenges relating to the impact of COVID-19 on their operations and communications, alongside the broader context for the public health and hospitality sectors, and changes in drug markets and drug use.


Aim of the special issue

The aim of this special issue is to capitalise on the momentum generated by the growing scientific and political interest in drug checking, in order to present the latest insights and models of drug checking services throughout the world to a diverse academic, policy and professional audience. Specifically, this special issue offers a platform for contributors, and a detailed insight for readers, that will help further our understanding of the factors involved in the (historical) development of drug checking; its usefulness as a harm reduction and monitoring tool; building partnerships with stakeholders in health, hospitality and law enforcement; as a potential catalyst for community direct action; and shedding light on the interplay between these factors and the (often restrictive) political, legal and social contexts within which drug checking operates. We welcome submissions from a broad range of theoretical and political perspectives, methodological approaches, and geographical locations. Submission of either empirical or theoretical research is encouraged, as well as work integrating interdisciplinary approaches, (narrative or systematic) review articles (including meta-analyses), opinions, and short communications (of up to 3,000 words).


Submission details

Manuscripts (no longer than 6,000 words including abstract, tables, figures, and references) should be prepared in accordance with the journal’s submission guidelines (see https://www.emeraldgrouppublishing.com/journal/dat#author-guidelines) and submitted by January 31st 2022. To submit your research, please visit https://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/dat. It is anticipated that the special issue will be published in late 2022.


Important dates

September 1st 2021: Submission window opens

December 31st 2021: Manuscript submission deadline



Guest editors

Fiona Measham (Department of Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology, School of Law and Social Justice, University of Liverpool, United Kingdom)

Daan van der Gouwe (Drugs Information and Monitoring System, Trimbos Institute, The Netherlands)

Raoul Koning (Jellinek, The Netherlands)

Nicolas Van der Linden (Modus Vivendi asbl and Center for Cultural and Social Psychology, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium)

Mireia Ventura (ABD-Energy Control, Spain)

Carlos Paulos (PIPAPO, 4motion asbl, Luxembourg)