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Consumption and treatment services site getting drug-checking device

'It’s another tool in the toolbox, and can support people in making informed decisions about their substance use'
The Scatr Series One, a small black box, is a drug checking device produced by Scatr Inc., in partnership with a team of Western University researchers.

It’s another tool in the toolbox for the Guelph Community Health Centre.

It has confirmed the Scatr Series One, a drug checking device will be used at the consumption and treatment services site in Downtown Guelph, beginning in the new year.

The technology was developed by startup company SCATR Inc., through a partnership with researchers at Western University, and being used at 11 safe consumption sites in Canada thanks to a federal grant.

“We did have the opportunity to be involved in a pilot of that equipment,” said Lindsey Sodtke, the manager of harm reduction services at the Guelph Community Health Centre, adding that happened a couple years ago when the product was in its early development.

“Things have progressed quite a bit since then, and so we’re very pleased to be able to have access to that same technology.”

She said there is a continued interest in utilizing the option from those who access the site, and to have a better sense of what is in the local unregulated supply of drugs.

Here’s how it works: bring a drug to the site, two milligrams is needed at minimum.

The device – a black box about the size of an average laptop – can test powder, rock, crystal, tablets or the contents of a pill capsule. It cannot test cannabis or liquid substances.

According to Scatr, the device uses Raman spectroscopy to analyze the drug, and detail its molecular composition and chemical structure.

After the results are known, the entire sample is returned to the user.

“It does give information quite quickly,” Sodtke said. “It has a turnaround time of under about five minutes.”

From the drug strategy’s point of view, it’s exciting to be able to work with this technology.

“It contributes to a broad range of health care services, to ensure that there is options available for people who use substances, to keep themselves safe and minimize potential risks,” said Jean Hopkins, the manager of the Wellington Guelph Drug Strategy.

“It’s another tool in the toolbox, and can support people in making informed decisions about their substance use.”

Scatr said its mission is to reduce the number of overdoses across the country.


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Mark Pare

About the Author: Mark Pare

Originally from Timmins, ON, Mark is a longtime journalist and broadcaster, who has worked in several Ontario markets.
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