2018/2019 Results

Over the 2018/19 season, KnowYourStuffNZ attended 13 events and tested a total of 805 samples. This is nearly double the amount of testing that we did last year.

Here are our drug checking results from this season (from 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019).

Expansion of KnowYourStuffNZ testing activities

We have scaled up our provision of testing this year in response to increasing demand for our services.

This year we tested 805 samples at 13 events.
In 2017/18 we tested 445 samples at 7 events.
In 2016/17 we tested 330 samples at 9 events.

87% of this season’s samples were what people thought they were. People brought us more MDMA than in previous years, more of that MDMA was actually MDMA, and people were less willing to take drugs when those drugs were not what they expected.

What changes are we seeing in people’s behaviour?

We are seeing an apparent trend towards more people saying that they will not take a substance when it is not what they thought it was. This season, 62% of people said they would not take a substance that was not what they expected it to be.

At this point we don’t know what underlies this trend. Possibilities include:

  • More clients may be taking harm reduction messages from KnowYourStuffNZ seriously.
  • There may be a trend towards the substances that are not as presumed being less desirable and/or more dangerous substances.
  • As MDMA becomes more available, people may be more willing to discard other substances because they know they can get MDMA instead.
  • There may be some random fluctuation in the results.

Link to raw data: change_intent.csv

What did people think they had?

As in previous years, most substances brought to us were presumed to be MDMA. Indoles (mostly LSD) were the second most common type of presumed substance, followed by dissociatives (mostly ketamine).

Link to raw data: presumed_substances.csv

Please note that some substances used at events are not commonly brought in for testing, such as cannabis, psilocybin mushrooms, alcohol, and GHB/GBL.

What did people actually have?

The most common substance was MDMA, followed by indoles (usually LSD) and dissociatives (usually ketamine). We also found 7 mixtures of MDMA and n-ethylpentylone (a potentially dangerous cathinone). This takes the total number of samples containing cathinones up to 24, 3% of the total. When samples were not MDMA, more than half of those samples contained n-ethylpentylone.

Thanks to Andrea Knox, we now have an online visualisation of our season’s results for you to explore.

Link to raw data: actual_substances.csv

Link to raw data: pres_Amphetamine_actual_content_2018_19.csv 

Link to raw data: pres_Cocaine_actual_content_2018_19.csv

Link to raw data: pres_Dissociative_actual_content_2018_19.csv

Link to raw data: pres_Indole_actual_content_2018_19.csv

Link to raw data: pres_MD_actual_content_2018_19.csv

Link to raw data: pres_Mixture_actual_content_2018_19.csv

Link to raw data: pres_Other_actual_content_2018_19.csv

Link to raw data: pres_PEA_actual_content_2018_19.csv

Link to raw data: pres_PharmHerbal_actual_content_2018_19.csv

Link to raw data: pres_Unknown_actual_content_2018_19.csv

How often were substances actually what people thought they were?

This year, 87% of the substances tested consistently with what they were supposed to be. This is an increase of 8% compared to the previous year. Some of these samples contained non-harmful fillers, colours, or binders in addition to the psychoactive.

6% gave results that were not consistent with the presumed substance.

5% gave results that were partially consistent with the presumed substance. These samples generally contained the presumed psychoactive plus other substances (additional psychoactives, impurities, or non-psychoactive pharmaceutical or herbal substances).

In a few cases where the client thought they had a mix of two psychoactives, the samples contained only one of those psychoactives. For instance, we saw large pills that were claimed to be a mix of MDMA and ketamine. These contained only MDMA, but in very high doses. We categorised these as ‘partially consistent with presumed’.

Link to raw data: cons_with_presumed.csv

How did testing change people’s decisions?

This season, 62% of clients stated that they did not intend to consume their substance after a negative test, that is if testing determined that the substance was not as presumed.

Link to raw data: intent_consume.csv

How did people intend to take substances?

When asked how they intended to take the substance, four out of five people (78%) said that they intended to ingest it orally or sublingually (under the tongue).

15% said that they intended to snort it. 5% were unsure whether they would take it orally or snort it. 3% said that they would use other methods, such as smoking or vaporising the substance, or inserting it anally.

Link to raw data: consumption_method.csv

How did people intend to take different substances?

The following chart shows clients’ intended methods of consumption for the drug families: MD, Indoles, Dissociatives, and Cocaine. There are clear differences between drugs. Most people intending to take MD (usually MDMA) and indoles (usually LSD) will take it orally or sublingually, Most people intending to use dissociatives (usually ketamine) and cocaine will snort it.

“n =” denotes the number of samples in each category.

Link to raw data: consumption_method_by_family.csv

Are we seeing changes in what people think they have?

Over the last 3 years, we have seen an increase in the presumed MDMA brought to us and a decrease in presumed LSD. The proportion of presumed dissociatives and cocaine has also increased, but both substances remain uncommon compared to MDMA and LSD.

Link to raw data: change_presumed.csv

What changes are we seeing in the substances that people actually have?

Over the last 3 years, we have seen an increase in the proportion of MDMA and a decrease in the proportion of LSD and cathinones.

Some of this is due to the change in the events we have been attending, from smaller festivals where we saw a wider range of substances to larger events where we see a focus on more common substances.

Taking into account the 7 mixtures of MDMA and n-ethylpentylone, the total proportion of samples containing cathinones (3% in 2019) is still a decrease compared to previous years.
The proportions of dissociatives (usually ketamine) and cocaine have increased, but both remain uncommon compared to MDMA and LSD.

Link to raw data: change_actual.csv

What changes are we seeing in the proportion of substances that are what they are supposed to be?

Over the last three years we have seen an increase in the proportion of substances that were what they were supposed to be.

In 2016/17, 68% of substances tested consistently with what they were supposed to be, compared to 79% in 2017/18 and 87% this year (2018/19).

Link to raw data: change_cons_presumed.csv

Are there changes in the proportion of MD and LSD samples that are what they are supposed to be?

For both MDMA and LSD, we have seen an increase in the proportion of samples that tested consistently with what they were supposed to be.

MDMA
There has been an increase in the proportion of MDMA that is actually MDMA. This year, 90% of samples brought to us as MDMA actually were MDMA, and MDMA was more likely than most other substances to be as-presumed.

One concern that KnowYourStuffNZ raised this summer was the increasing number of high-dose MDMA pills. 36 out of 518 MDMA samples contained two or more doses in the pill.

The decrease in the proportion of MDMA that was ‘partially consistent with presumed’ probably results from improvements to our testing method between 2016/17 and 2017/18.

LSD
For LSD and other indoles, 92% of samples brought to us this year were what they were supposed to be.

Other substances
There has also been an increase in the percentage of non-MD samples that were as-presumed, although these are a small proportion of the tests that we do.

Link to raw data: change_MD_Indole_cons_presumed.csv