Reagent testing involves the use of reagents to test or ‘check’ drugs for particular substances.  As a result of a chemical reaction a colour change can be compared to reference sheets.

Reference sheets associated with a number of reagents can be found here:


  • Can be used to establish credibility amongst people who use drugs and engage them in harm reduction (e.g. brief interventions, advice and information) and other forms of health promotion (e.g. mental and sexual health);
  • Cheap- a standard testing kits costs in the region of 20 euro and lasts for several dozen kits;
  • Fast- tests produce results near instantaneously;
  • Readily available- companies that supply such tests include Reagent Tests UK, SIN- Poland, Dancesafe (US) and EZ TestKits (Australia and Europe);
  • Easy to manufacture;
  • Can ‘rule in’ substances i.e. they can detect the presence of a substance through a colour change.


  • Are qualitative rather than quantitative i.e. they can detect the presence of a substance but not the quantity of the substance;
  • Cannot ‘rule out’ substances i.e. colour changes can mask colour changes corresponding to other substances which may not be visible;
  • Some substances do not react with reagent tests;
  • Multiple reagents required to increase accuracy of result;
  • Chemicals are corrosive and can damage clothing.