Urinalysis and self-reporting allow us to monitor drugs on the illegal market for the substances they contain and compare this to what people who use those drugs expect them to contain. There are multiple ways to monitor the contents of drugs, including testing samples of the drugs themselves (drug checking) or, as in the project described here, testing urine samples for metabolites of substances after people consume them.
Having better knowledge about the contents and possible contamination of the local drug supply (e.g., crack cocaine contaminated with fentanyl) enables people who use drugs to better understand what they might be taking. As a result, they can modify their behaviour by, for example, using supervised consumption or overdose prevention sites.
Information about the content of the drug supply can inform harm reduction services and policies, which can help reduce overdose deaths and other harms associated with drug use.
The long-term objective of the Community Urinalysis and Self-Report Project (CUSP) is to develop standardized tools that:
- Monitor reported drug use patterns and the contents of drugs that were used;
- Are responsive to emerging issues;
- Allow for comparison between regions across Canada;
- Evaluate interventions aimed at reducing drug-related harms; and
- Communicate information to stakeholders, including people who use drugs.