Toronto’s Drug Checking Service
People who use drugs in Toronto have long advocated for access to drug checking in an effort to reduce the harms associated with using drugs from the unregulated supply.
Launched in October 2019, Toronto’s drug checking service offers people who use drugs timely and detailed information on the contents of their drugs, helping them to make more informed decisions.
This drug checking service also helps to uncover the makeup of Toronto’s unregulated drug supply, which includes illegal drugs, as well as legal drugs diverted from regulated markets for sale through criminal channels. Visit the website for Toronto’s drug checking service to browse up-to-date and interactive information from samples checked to date. New information is published every other week.
How do I get my drugs checked?
Toronto’s drug checking service is free, anonymous, and available to everyone. Accepted samples include a substance (approximately 10mg of a powder or pill, blotter, or a small amount of liquid) and paraphernalia after it’s been used (a used cooker or filter, or leftover liquid from a syringe).
Samples are collected at five harm reduction agencies in Toronto where supervised consumption services are also offered:
- Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre (Queen West site) – Bathurst and Queen
- South Riverdale Community Health Centre – Carlaw and Queen
- The Works at Toronto Public Health – Yonge and Dundas
- Moss Park Consumption and Treatment Service – Sherbourne and Queen
- Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre (Parkdale site) – Dufferin and Queen
Results are available within a business day or two and are communicated to clients by harm reduction staff in person or by phone. Along with these results, clients receive tailored harm reduction supports, guidance, and referral to services (e.g., supervised consumption, naloxone training, primary health care).
How does Toronto’s drug checking service work?
Toronto’s drug checking service uses mass spectrometry technologies (gas- and liquid-chromatography). These sophisticated lab-based technologies offer detailed information about which drugs are found in each sample, along with some information about how much of each drug is present.
Toronto’s drug checking service is one of a few pilot projects that received funding from Health Canada to prevent overdose. This service operates by way of exemptions from the Government of Canada’s Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.
This drug checking service is being scientifically evaluated to understand its impacts on the health and well-being of people who use drugs in Toronto.
Health Canada | St. Michael’s Hospital Foundation
British Columbia Centre of Substance Use | Centre for Addiction and Mental Health | Health Canada’s Drug Analysis Service | Moss Park Consumption and Treatment Service | Office of the Chief Coroner for Ontario | Ontario Harm Reduction Network | Ontario Poison Centre | Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre | Public Health Ontario | Sandy Hill Community Health Centre | South Riverdale Community Health Centre | St. Michael’s Hospital | Street Health | The Works at Toronto Public Health | Toronto Harm Reduction Alliance | Toronto Paramedic Services | Toronto Public Health | Trip! Project
Project Manager, Toronto’s Drug Checking Service
- Detecting and Responding to New Psychoactive Substances: Experiences of Frontline Health Services in Toronto, Ontario, Canada (UN Statement)
- Comparing Models of Drug Checking Services in Canada
Toronto's drug checking service has launched an interactive website! We will now publicly share regular information on Toronto’s unregulated drug supply, supporting more evidence-based harm reduction practices, policy, research, and care for people who use drugs.View
Preliminary Patterns in Circumstances Surrounding Opioid-Related Deaths in Ontario during the COVID-19 Pandemic
The Ontario Drug Policy Research Network, the Office of the Chief Coroner for Ontario/the Ontario Forensic Pathology Service, Public Health Ontario, and the CDPE have published a report analyzing trends in opioid-related deaths and comparing circumstances of death between two groups: a COVID-19 pandemic cohort and a pre-pandemic cohort.View
As a harm reduction intervention available in Europe since the 1990s, DCS provide information on the composition of drugs to their clients in order to facilitate more informed drug-related decision-making and to increase the capacity of individuals to avoid ingesting unanticipated toxic substances, which can lead to overdose and death.View
Read the Toronto Overdose Action Plan, endorsed by the Board of Health and calling for the implementation of drug checking at supervised injection sites and alongside harm reduction programming at music events.View
Read the report by Public Health Ontario, reviewing guidelines and published research on the use of drug checking services as a harm reduction strategy.View