Introducing High Alert

We’ve been advocating for a drug Early Warning System for New Zealand for years, and it’s finally happened! Introducing High Alert – where you can check for warnings and notifications about what’s out there and help keep yourself safe.


So, who’s behind High Alert?

It’s a collaborative effort between a network of organisations who regularly encounter and respond to drug issues. Known as Drug Information and Alerts New Zealand (DIANZ), this group works together to reduce drug related harm. DIANZ issues alerts and notifications when something is identified that poses significant harm to people who use drugs, and gathers and analyses data from a variety of sources in order to monitor drug trends. .

KnowYourStuffNZ is part of DIANZ. We support the work DIANZ is doing by providing information about potentially dangerous substances we have found, and helping with decisions, alerts, and notifications.

Key info about High Alert:

· It acts as a central point for all drug related data, which will help to quickly and effectively respond to immediate and future risk in drug harm.

· Anyone who has experienced unexpected or concerning effects from drugs can share their experience through High Alert. This will help keep others safe. Data collected via the website is entirely confidential. It won’t be used to pursue prosecution.

· Alerts and notifications will be published on the website to inform the public of any increased health risks presented by new drug trends or novel substances.

· Education and specific harm reduction advice based on the latest trends will also be published on the website.

· All of this aims to reduce drug-related harm.

The High Alert website publishes alerts and general harm reduction information for people who use drugs, health practitioners, and the general public. It also allows people who use drugs to report unexpected or concerning effects from drug use with no risk of prosecution.

Note: we will continue to provide our own alerts when public safety requires a speedy response to emerging dangerous substances, such as over New Years. However, we encourage you to check High Alert regularly – it’s been a long time coming and we’re happy it’s finally here!

Visit highalert.org.nz to find out more. 

Update: more pills to be aware of this summer

With the festival season ongoing and many university Orientation events happening next week, KnowYourStuffNZ would like to provide an update of pills currently in circulation that may not be as they seem. This follows on from our notification of high dose MDMA pills prior to New Year. The pills have been identified in our testing this summer season, and are likely to be found around the country.

Four new types of pill have been estimated to contain more than one dose of MDMA, and two contain no MDMA at all, instead containing cathinones (“bath salts”). One of the cathinone pills also contains caffeine.

Cathinone pills

Mephedrone produces similar effects to MDMA, but is described as ‘speedier’ and is active in lower doses. A common dose is 45-80mg. It has been implicated in a small number of deaths overseas. 

The main danger with mephedrone is that it has a high redose compulsion which makes you want to take more. This can lead to prolonged insomnia, overdose or dependence.

Methylone, also known as bk-MDMA, has similar effects to MDMA but is less potent in terms of dose. A common dose is 150-200mg. The identified pill also contains caffeine. This increases the risk of harm as combining stimulants can cause heart problems and psychosis. 

Cathinones can be dangerous when taken with alcohol, tramadol, or MAOI antidepressants. They can cause insomnia and anxiety, and in high doses, psychosis. 

High dose MDMA pills

The pills that we have found contain up to three doses in a single pill. A common dose of MDMA is around 80-120 milligrams, depending upon a user’s body weight. We recommend weighing your doses wherever possible.

Taking too much MDMA can result in a very unpleasant experience, health risks, and sometimes even death. 

Because these substances act on the serotonin system, serotonin syndrome is a potentially fatal risk. If you or someone you know has taken any of these pills and experiences the following, seek medical attention immediately. 

  • dizziness
  • vomiting, 
  • a sharp rise in body temperature, 
  • muscle cramping, 
  • heart palpitations, 
  • seizures, 
  • unconsciousness,.

Please note that the amount of active substance present is an estimate only as our technology cannot directly measure dosage or purity. Our spectrometer provides a rough percentage of psychoactive content in a sample. We use this combined with the weight of the pill to reach these estimates. The estimated dosage should be treated as an indication only and we recommend caution.

Pills to be aware of include:

 

Description Image
Green Speckles

Dark green, round, speckled, no logo

Weight: 371mg

Estimated to contain 150-200mg MDMA

1 green plain adjusted - CopyColour and size reference chart
(1 square= 1cm2)
Orange One

Orange/brown, round pill, has ‘ONE’ stamped on it

Weight: 370mg

Estimated to contain 200-250mg MDMA

2 orange one adjusted - Copy
Pink Grenade

Pink, shaped like a grenade with grenade markings stamped on it, sometimes mistaken for a pineapple

Weight: 338mg

Estimated to contain at least 150mg MDMA

4 pink grenade adjusted - Copy
Blue Punisher

Blue, roughly triangular, Punisher logo

Weight: 443mg

Estimated to contain 200mg MDMA

blue punisher - Copy
Blue Mario

Pale blue, round, Mario Brothers face stamped on it

Weight: 430mg

Estimated to contain ~180mg methylone and 100mg caffeine.

3 blue mario adjusted - Copy
Dark Green square

Dark green, square-ish pill, logo can’t be made out

Weight: 245mg

Estimated to contain 90mg mephedrone

5 dark green meph adjusted - Copy

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.

ALERT: 5F-MDMB-PINACA sold as crystal LSD

KnowYourStuffNZ has found 5F-MDMB-PINACA, a synthetic cannabinoid, in a sample of white powder that was presumed to be crystal LSD.

The sample had been taken orally in a very tiny amount, and the experience was described as unpleasant and depressive with dissociative effects, and “Definitely not like LSD.” The sample was tested using FT-IR spectroscopy, but was not reagent tested.

5F-MDMB-PINACA (also known as 5F-ADB-PINACA or 5F-ADB) is a chemical compound from the family known as synthetic cannabinoids, or synnies. In small doses it may produce euphoria, lethargy, confusion, anxiety, and distorted time perception. In large doses it can cause dissociation, hallucinations, paranoia, aggressive behaviour, respiratory depression, tachycardia (very fast heart rate), and sudden death. Long term use may lead to dependence.  

It has been associated with significant numbers of deaths both overseas and in New Zealand, mainly from inadvertently consuming unintentionally high doses. A full report on the risks of this substance is available here.

The identified substance is a white powder and was offered as ‘crystal LSD’ in the Auckland region. WE STRONGLY RECOMMEND AVOIDING THIS SUBSTANCE.

5F-MDMB-PINACA Jan 2020
The substance (pictured) was presented as a fine white powder in a small bag

Harm reduction information

The compound is not well researched and accurate information about dosage is not available, however reports suggest it may be active in very small doses, potentially less than  1mg. For comparison, an average dose of MDMA is around 100mg.

  • safest of all, do not take it
  • if consuming, start small, start slow – take only a very tiny amount, and wait at least an hour before thinking about having more
  • do not snort, smoke, or inject
  • do not mix with other substances, including alcohol
  • do not take by yourself. Make sure you have someone you trust with you.

If you think you or someone else may have inadvertently taken 5F-MDMB-PINACA and are experiencing any of the following symptoms, seek medical advice IMMEDIATELY:

  • dissociation or hallucinations
  • slow or shallow breathing
  • nausea/vomiting
  • seizures/convulsions
  • aggressive behaviour or psychosis
  • sudden loss of consciousness

Further information on what to do when someone overdoses on synnies can be found on the NZ Drug Foundation website.

KnowYourStuffNZ is a not-for-profit social enterprise funded by donations from the community. If you value our work, please donate.

Notification: high-dose MDMA pills in circulation ahead of NYE 2019/2020

With New Year’s Eve just around the corner, KnowYourStuffNZ would like to advise people of high-dose MDMA pills currently in circulation. These have been identified in our testing so far this summer season, and are likely to be found around the country over the holiday period.

These pills should be approached with caution. Users are advised that the only way to guarantee safety is to not take them. For those who do choose to take them, our recommendation is to only take a third of a pill at most, and wait at least an hour before considering taking any more.

These pills have been tested to contain MDMA and a variety of fillers. One type of pill (Pink Mitsubishis) also contains caffeine. Combining stimulants such as MDMA and caffeine can increase the risk of heart problems and psychosis. No other psychoactives have been detected in the listed pills. 

A common dose of MDMA is around 80-120 milligrams, depending upon a user’s body weight. These pills contain up to three doses in a single pill. We recommend weighing your doses wherever possible.

Taking too much MDMA can result in a very unpleasant experience, health risks, and sometimes even death. If you or someone you know has taken one of these pills and experiences dizziness and vomiting, a sharp rise in body temperature, muscle cramping, heart palpitations, seizures, or unconsciousness, seek medical attention immediately.

Please note that the amount of MDMA present is an estimate only as our technology cannot directly measure dosage or purity. The spectrometer can provide a rough percentage of MDMA content in a sample and we use this combined with the weight of the pill to reach these estimates. The estimated dosage should be treated as an indication only and we recommend always erring on the side of caution.

Caveat: The pills shown are just what KYSNZ have tested. We’ve seen other variants in the past and there’s very likely others in circulation.

If you can, get any pressed pill tested this summer and if you can’t, the safest course of action (apart from not taking it) is to dose assuming it’s one of these until you can gauge the effects.

Suspected high dose pills include:

Description Image
Blue or Yellow New Yorker

Light blue/turquoise or pale yellow, round, quite thick, NY logo on front, dividing line on reverse

Weight: 370mg

Estimated to contain 250-300mg MDMA

Blue New YorkerYellow New YorkerColour and size reference chart
(1 square= 1cm2)
White CNN

White, rectangular with rounded corners, CNN logo on front

Weight: 450mg

Estimated to contain 300mg MDMA

White CNN
Pink Mitsubishi 

Pink, round, quite thick, Mitsubishi logo on front, plain on reverse

Weight: 530mg

Estimated to contain  250-300mg MDMA

Warning: this pill also contains an estimated 90mg of caffeine. This is the equivalent of about 2 strong cups of coffee and will add to the stimulant effect of these pills and increase the risk of heart problems or stimulant-induced psychosis

Pink Mitsubishi
Blue Punisher

Light blue, triangular with 2 corners cut off, Punisher logo on front, dividing line on reverse

Weight: 490mg

Estimated to contain 300mg MDMA

Blue Punisher FrontBlue Punisher Back
Yellow Ironman

Bright yellow, oval, Ironman logo on front, dividing line vertical on reverse

Weight: 430mg

Estimated to contain 250mg MDMA

Yellow Ironman

KnowYourStuffNZ is a not-for-profit social enterprise funded by donations from the community. If you value our work, please donate.

Cathinone C86 identified as eutylone

The substance found and alerted by KnowYourStuffNZ in testing earlier this month, previously known only as C86, has now been identified as eutylone.

Eutylone, also known as bk-EBDB or n-ethylbutylone, is a stimulant in the cathinone family (sometimes called “bath salts”). It was first synthesised in the 1960s and first reported to  European Early Warning Systems in 2014. Reports of recreational use began to appear about 2 years ago.

KnowYourStuffNZ detected the first sample of this substance in December 2018. We have detected five samples of eutylone this year, in locations from upper North Island to lower South Island. All were obtained as MDMA, and were described as a white powder that tends to clump together – however it may also be around in other formats. Anecdotal reports from NZers who have used this substance thinking it was MDMA suggest it may be responsible for several hospitalisations.

In the absence of a spectrometer, reagents can be used to test for the presence of eutylone. Testing with the Marquis reagent will give a yellow/orange colour, and the Mandelin reagent turns a muddy greenish-brown. Meanwhile if a substance contains MDMA, both Marquis and Mandelin reagents will turn black. It is important to note that other cathinones have been found mixed with MDMA, so a positive test result for MDMA does not mean a substance is unadulterated.

Eutylone is not well researched and very little information about it is available. The following information has been put together from a combination of user reports, safety data sheets, and references in scientific journals.

Dosage:

Oral doses of between 35mg and 150mg have been reported, however the average dose is reported as 60-100mg. 150mg was described as ‘very intense’.

Duration

4-6 hours

Effects

The effects are described as subtle, calming, social, serotonergic (loved up), euphoric, and not particularly stimulating.

Sensations of physical warmth and tingling were described in several reports. One user reported feeling unusual heart activity.

Dangers/negatives

Users reported redose compulsion, with most redosing every 1-2 hours.  Because this is a stimulant, repeated redosing can lead to restlessness and insomnia, and eventually psychosis if the user does not sleep.

Safety Data Sheet information suggests it may be irritating to mucous membranes.

Users have reported raised heartbeats, and as it constricts blood vessels this substance can also raise blood pressure and cause numb or cold extremities.

Eutylone has been identified as present in one death in the US, however the victim had also taken fentanyl and thus the role of eutylone in the death is not clear.

Harm reduction information

Avoid snorting this substance.

Avoid taking with other stimulants (eg cocaine or MDMA), dissociatives (eg ketamine, DXM, or GHB/GBL), or alcohol.

If you intend to take eutylone, be aware that it is a very new substance with little confirmed information available, and therefore approach with extreme caution. Take only a fraction of the expected dose and wait at least an hour before taking more.

Always make sure a trusted person knows what you are doing.

If you experience dizziness, nausea, racing heart, or numbness in the extremities, seek medical help and be honest about what you have taken.

Dunedin cathinone capsule

KnowYourStuffNZ is a not-for-profit social enterprise funded entirely by donations from the community. If you value our work, please donate.