Objectives: Drug checking technologies (DCTs) have been implemented as a response to the ongoing opioid overdose epidemic. We examined the level of trust people who use drugs (PWUD) have in their drug dealers as well as their perspectives on the potential for drug dealers to use DCTs to provide knowledge of drug contents to their customers.
Methods: We conducted one-to-one qualitative semi-structured interviews with 20 PWUD in Vancouver, Canada's Downtown Eastside. Participants were purposively recruited from ongoing cohort studies of PWUD and were required to currently be using stimulants and/or opioids.
Results: Most participants discussed having a high level of trust for their drug dealers based on length of relationships, drug supply consistencies, and communication. Given this, participants did not identify drug checking as a priority. However, participants discussed a lower level of trust when buying drugs from an unfamiliar source. Participants also discussed how DCTs would provide knowledge to drug dealers about drug contents and how communicating test results to customers could be a risk reduction measure. Participants described privacy concerns that drug dealers might experience as well as the lack of concern that some drug dealers have about their drug supply.
Conclusions: Future drug checking programming should consider ways to engage drug dealers to test their supplies and develop communication strategies to more accurately inform PWUD of drug contents and avert risks associated with using them. Additionally, drug policies that address the effects of criminalization should be considered to lessen potential barriers to DCT use by drug dealers.
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