Since 1997 the mobile lab of checkit! is analysing recreational drugs at festivals, raves and nightclubs in and around Vienna. Checkit! is a scientific collaboration of the Medical University of Vienna and the ‘Viennese Drugs Services’ (Suchthilfe Wien). The mobile lab is the centrepiece of checkit!´s integrated drug checking (IDC) service. IDC is a special combination of the chemical analysis of psychoactive substances with a range of psychosocial interventions. For the last 20 years checkit! has been contributing to harm reduction, addiction prevention and market monitoring. The service is free of charge, voluntary and anonymous.
The on-site chemical analysis takes place in the checkit! analysis truck, which was modified to function as a full-featured laboratory. A method called UHPLC-DAD-MS (Ultra high performance liquid chromatography – diode array detection – mass spectrometry) is utilised to identify and quantify the content of recreational drugs. The system consists of four UHPLC-DAD systems run in parallel and one mass spectrometer to identify and discriminate new compounds and complex substance mixtures. After 15 minutes of sample preparation, analysis, interpretation and evaluation, the individual results are presented to the drug-users together with counselling, advice and support by the psychosocial team. With this setup, 30 samples can be processed per hour and over 100 samples per night, resulting in more than 10.000 drug samples analysed by checkit! so far. The insights of 12 drug checking nights each year, enables the checkit! team to understand current developments of the drug market, consumption trends and patterns and therefore to provide optimal and customised harm reduction measures for users of recreational drugs in Vienna.