23 October 2023
The Welsh Emerging Drugs and Identification of Novel Substances (WEDINOS) service recently celebrated its 10th Anniversary and held a one-day conference in Cardiff to celebrate their achievements. Staff from the Welsh National Poisons Unit (WNPU) were able to attend the 10th anniversary conference and support their colleagues in WEDINOS.
WEDINOS is the largest public drug checking programme in the UK and forms a crucial part of the drugs harm reduction strategy in Wales. The service receives drug samples from community members, drug services, health care providers, criminal justice settings, and other sources across the UK, and provides accurate analysis and identification of the submitted substances.
The 10th Anniversary WEDINOS Conference consisted of a range of interesting presentations including, in particular, a review of 10 years of WEDINOS data, highlighting some of the trends that have been identified and explaining how this has impacted policy. A stakeholder session included presentations from Dr Laurence Gray, Director of the WNPU, as well as representatives from the prison service, community services, drug treatment services, and Police. Virtual access meant that speakers representing international drug checking organisations were able to participate, and included presentations from the Harm Reduction International (an NGO that advocates for harm reduction and drug policy reform), Energy Control (drug advisory service based in Spain), and the Drug Information and Monitoring System (based in the Netherlands), as well as domestic organisations like the Scottish Drug Forum (who work to improve Scotland’s response to problem drugs), and Release (a UK centre of expertise on drugs law). The day closed with a final session consisting of an open discussion with delegates and speakers about the future of drug checking in the UK and elsewhere.
The conference provided an excellent opportunity for attendees to develop their understanding of some of the issues surrounding recreational drug use across the UK, and the impact of services such as WEDINOS in highlighting trends and informing policy on substances of concern. In particular, delegates from the WNPU were able to develop their professional knowledge in this area and so better equip them to answer poisoning enquiries and carry out other work in the WNPU. For more information about WEDINOS please see their website: www.wedinos.org