We follow the journey of an ecstasy pill through testing in Switzerland

sign on the door

In Switzerland clubbers can get recreational drugs tested to help them make a more "informed choice" before using them.

There is no such system in the UK although "front of house" testing has been trialled at two festivals in 2016.

We went to the Swiss city of Bern to see a pop-up centre where clubbers get their drugs screened weekly.

And we followed a tablet from drop-off to testing and back to the user for results.

Watch Newsbeat's documentary: Clubs, Drugs and Saving Lives

How the pill was tested

First we meet 26-year-old clubber "John" as he drops off a pill for testing.

He says he bought it from friends and he believes it is ecstasy.

The pill is in the shape of an owl
Image caption The pill is in the shape of an owl

John is greeted by drug councillor Nik Hostettler who goes through John's current use and asks two main questions: when he plans to take the pill and whether it will be consumed along with other substances.

This conversation takes around 20 minutes.

Then John hands the pill to a scientist from a local government-approved laboratory.

A scientist takes a quarter of the pill and gives the rest back to John.

The sample is then crushed with a pestle and mortar and put into a glass tube.

The tester then asks for more information about the pill including its price and its source.

He then measures and photographs it.

It all happens at an anonymous-looking office on the outskirts of the city centre.

samples in a box

The next day at a government laboratory the crushed-up pill is weighed and a small amount of it is dissolved in a solvent.

This is then analysed in a liquid chromatography machine.

The results come out as a reading on a graph.

They are compared with known drug patterns.

Another measurement is taken to calculate the strength of whatever substance is being tested.

pill is loooked at on PC

Fabienne Holzer, who is carrying out the testing, confirms it is a very strong ecstasy pill.

"[There are] 239 milligrams of MDMA in that pill," she tells Newsbeat.

"We give a warning when it is over 120 milligram and we have double that amount."

testing on the pill

Holzer's boss is watching on and is quick to emphasise the findings.

"If you take a pill like that and you are a young girl of a body weight of 50 kilogram, you are in the overdose range," Hans Jorg Helmlin tells Newsbeat.

The results are then sent to the councillor so he can feed them back to John who dropped the pill off.

man gives feedback over phone

John then calls up to get the result for his pill and he gets advice on how to minimise the risk if he decides to take it.

"I told him that it is a very high dose pill," Nik Hostettler explains.

"It is a dangerous pill. It's a very high dose but it doesn't have anything different in it.

"It is a dangerous pill. It's a very high dose but it doesn't have anything different in it
Nik Hostettler
Drugs counsellor

"He just has to take a little part of the pill not the whole pill on the same night."

Drug experts warn that ecstasy is the strongest it has been in years and there's been a warning that it is causing the biggest risk to users' mental health in decades.

You can find help and advice on ecstasy and MDMA via these BBC Advice pages.

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