Research on past drug checking programs shows that people can have a range of reactions when they find out their drugs contain something dangerous or unexpected. Some may throw the drugs out, but several studies show that, more often, participants vow to change their behavior given the close call.
A 2018 study of a drug checking program at a supervised injection facility in Canada, for example, found that 11% of participants said they would get rid of their drugs, while 36% said they would use less.
Karen McDonald leads Toronto’s Drug Checking Service. “When we were originally funded, governments thought, ‘We're going to show people what's in their drugs and they're going to turn around and decide not to use those drugs or throw those drugs out,” McDonald said. “That is not the reality of the situation. People work very hard for these drugs. Also, people are physically dependent on these drugs.”