Be a K know-it-all

At KnowYourStuffNZ we’ve seen quite a bump in the use of ketamine over this festival season (pardon the pun). As we’re responsible ponies who like to make everybody safer, we want to give some easy to digest, legit information about K: no horse-play here. 

Here’s what our friends at The Loop have to say:

“Ketamine is what is known as a dissociative anaesthetic which gives users a sense of detachment from their body and surroundings.”

It’s usually found as a white powder and taken in ‘bumps’ by snorting up the nose (insufflation). A common dose is around 50-80mg, with anything over that considered a strong or heavy dose.

Effects start trotting along within 7-20 minutes, hitting a gallop at about 30-60 minutes, and after-effects lasting from 2-12 hours. Ketamine is still in your system even after you stop feeling effects so having more can produce stronger effects than expected.

Let’s get it all lined up for easy consumption:

Effects Include:Risks Include:
Feeling light and bouncy as a foalAccidents while intoxicated
DizzinessDependence
DelusionsDisturbing hallucinations
Visual hallucinationsPsychosis
Vomiting (Especially if combined with alcohol)Nasal damage
At high doses it leads to the “K-hole”: Users seem unresponsive to others, but experience vivid hallucinationsSlowed breathing, inability to look after yourself, vomiting and potentially death

In our work testing and giving out advice at festivals around Aotearoa, we’ve noticed that a lot more people are horsing around with ketamine in 2020, and a correlated upswing in reports of ketamine-related harm.

Some people are ending up in the K-hole even when they don’t want to, by repeatedly ‘bumping’ the same amount or increasing amounts. The cumulative effect is something to really be aware of friends: reduce the size of each bump if you are going to repeat dose.

Don’t mix ketamine with other drugs: depressants like alcohol increase the risk of passing out and choking on your own vomit. When mixed with stimulants like MDMA it can cause blood pressure spikes. 

If you are seeking the K-hole make sure you are with people you trust. Have a designated   trip-sitter, or at least someone who’s not also K-holing, to make sure you aren’t a victim of “foal play” while you’re incapacitated.

A significant number of regular users experience bladder problems – including UTI’s, cystitis, and a risk of ulcerated bladder requiring bladder removal. We recommend keeping K special and your bladder intact by using it only occasionally.

Once again, because we’ve seen it a lot: don’t mix Ketamine with alcohol. One of the biggest risks is impaired judgement from alcohol mixed with the lack of coordination and dissociation from Ket, leading to all sorts of bad times.

Remember folks, we do regular free drug testing with an infrared spectrometer in various cities around the country: don’t look this gift horse in the mouth! Be sure of what you’re putting in your body.

Sources (of information):

Stay temperature smart this summer

Summer. It’s hot. One of the main effects of LSD, MDMA and/or other stimulants is that you can get very hot very quickly as the drug kicks in. Hot environment + hot person = potential for heat stroke, especially if you’re indoors, in the sun, or in the thick of a packed dance floor. Here’s some tips on how to stay out of the medics’ tent this summer.

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Image Credit: Katherine Kwan, VisualBass Photography

Hydration

Monitoring your water intake is important, especially if you’ve taken MDMA. You should drink the right amount – not too much, not too little. There have been cases of people drinking too much water after taking MDMA, overhydrating, and winding up in hospital with hyponatremia. Hyponatremia has killed partygoers before, so please be careful. We like it when you don’t die. 

Ideal ways to stay safely hydrated are:

  • Limit your alcohol intake. It’s a diuretic (makes you pee lots) and you want to keep your fluids on your inside, not your outside.
  • Limit your water intake to one big cup per hour. This is a safe amount of water for your body to process. You can measure time by DJ sets if you don’t have a watch. Grab a drink every time the DJ changes and you’ll be right. If you have extra water, you can always pour it over your head to keep cool.
  • Electrolyte drinks such as Powerade and coconut water can help replenish what you’re sweating out. Keep your tent stocked if you’re at a festival, or grab one on your way home at the end of the night.
  • Keep the one big cup of fluid per hour going for at least two hours after you get home from your adventures.

Read more about staying safely hydrated on MDMA at the Psychedelic Times website.

A good way to avoid the dry-mouth that goes along with jaw clenching without overhydrating is to suck on an ice cube or lollipop, or chew gum. 

Take breaks and dress for the occasion.

Take regular breaks if you’re on the dance floor. If you can go out onto a balcony or chill out by a window and get some fresh air, do it. If you’re at a festival, spend some time in the chill space. Regular rest breaks will keep you cool and out of the medic’s tent.

If you start feeling too hot and you have ice on hand, don’t be afraid to rub it on your hands and face for a bit of instant relief. If you’re at a venue, duck into the toilets and hold your hands under the cold tap in the hand basin.

Wearing layers that you can take off and on as you need to is also advisable, especially at night if you’re at an outdoor gig. Remember to bring a jacket to wear on your way home. While overheating is a concern, you can also get too cold at night while travelling.

Check in with yourself and your friends

Listen to your body. If you think you might be overheating, check in with your friends, take a break and have some water. If you’re too warm, chances are your mates might be too and you’ll have a better night if you don’t have to go to A&E.

Don’t listen to your brain. Drugs can interfere with your decision-making, and heat stroke definitely makes you confused. The two together can lead to terrible decisions. Check in with your friends or sober people about what state you are in and be willing to take their advice, even if you think you feel fine.

Heat-related problems 

If you start feeling any of these, seek medical help immediately. If you are with someone who experiences these, help them to get medical help.

Heat cramps

This is the least severe of the three. The major muscle groups in your body will start involuntarily spasming. They generally happen if you’ve been doing a lot of physical exercise in a hot or humid environment, like dancing on a packed dance floor. You sweat profusely and your legs, core muscles, and arms cramp up. Heat cramps can hit both while you’re dancing, and after you’ve gone home, so make sure you hydrate properly for the entire time you’re adventuring.

Learn more about heat cramps

Heat exhaustion

You get heat exhaustion if you’re in a hot environment and don’t hydrate well. The symptoms of heat exhaustion are:

  • profuse sweating,
  • weakness,
  • nausea,
  • vomiting,
  • headache,
  • lightheadedness, and
  • muscle cramps.

Learn more about heat exhaustion

Heat stroke

This is the worst of the heat-related problems that can happen as it can kill. It comes with being severely dehydrated.

You get dizzy, confused, and disoriented. You stop sweating because your body doesn’t have any more fluid for you to sweat out. In extreme cases you can pass out or go into a coma. At worst, you can die.

Learn more about heat stroke

Read more about self care in our post about the problems with mixing drugs with other substances.

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Image credit: Andrew Palau Festivals

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

Eutylone report – “I felt poisoned for 48 hours”

KnowYourStuffNZ’s testing at festivals this summer has found that there are still dangerous chemicals being sold as MDMA (as well as a lot of MDMA). 

Know Your Stuff-29

One drug of concern is eutylone, which was described to us as “48 hours of misery”. Eutylone is a new cathinone (sometimes referred to as “bath salts”). KnowYourStuffNZ summarised the available information about eutylone in our warning last year: Cathinone C86 identified as eutylone. We have found eutlyone at every event we’ve attended this season.

Eutylone is particularly risky as it initially feels like weak MDMA. It produces some euphoria which fades after the first hour. Users thinking they have MDMA may think it is just weak MDMA and be tempted to take more. Higher doses have been linked with intense, unpleasant and potentially dangerous experiences.

As eutylone is a very new substance, there is no good information on the recommended dosage. However, users have reported effects at 35 mg. If users are expecting MDMA and weighing out MDMA-sized doses (typically 100 mg), then they risk unknowingly taking a dangerous amount of eutylone.

A KnowYourStuffNZ client did take more – 250 mg in total. They reported feeling “poisoned” and spent 48 hours in misery, staring at the ceiling, unable to sleep.

All of the samples of eutylone we have found have been indistinguishable from MDMA by eye, so without testing you cannot be certain you do not have this substance. Eutylone shows the characteristic cathinone reactions when reagent tested – orange/yellow change with Marquis, and muddy green/brown with Mandelin. 

KnowYourStuffNZ’s advice about eutylone is to approach with extreme caution. Not enough is known about this substance to provide specific harm reduction information, so we recommend avoiding where possible, and if you do intend to take it, take a very small amount and wait at least an hour before considering having more. If you feel unwell, particularly with stimulant-type symptoms such as: racing heart, elevated temperature, or extreme anxiety, seek medical attention.

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.

Check in with your drug use this festival season: FUN or dysFUNctional?

Our new mascot Lil Pinger’s been hitting the bottle pretty hard and we think it’s time for an intervention.  She’s been neglecting her grass-eating and her social gambolling. All the dirt piles she used to be passionate about climbing remain woefully un-bounced upon. It’s just “bottle, bottle, bottle” with her lately. 

It’s important to recognise how easily ‘recreational’ drug use can turn into ‘problematic’ drug use. A good rule of thumb is asking whether your drug use has negatively impacted other areas of your life – particularly your physical or mental health, your relationships, or your financial stability and employment. Here are some questions you can ask to check in with yourself about your drug use

  • Do you know what’s in your drugs, and which other substances are dangerous to mix them with (including alcohol and prescription medications)?
  • Can you get through the week without using drugs? Do you use drugs as a way to cope with problems in your life?
  • Do you feel like you need drugs for parties or other social situations?
  • Is it easy for you to take significant breaks from drug use? If drugs are available during these breaks, how easy do you find it to turn them down?
  • Do you feel badly or guilty about your drug use? 
  • Has your drug use created problems between you and your partner, friends or family? 
  • Have you been in trouble at work, had to take time off, or lost a job because of drug use?
  • Has your drug use contributed to a drop in taking care of yourself, e.g. have personal hygiene, motivation, sociability or mental health slipped as a consequence of using?
  • Have you been in fights, personal danger, or had times you don’t remember things when under the influence of drugs? 
  • Have you experienced withdrawal symptoms or had medical problems as a result of your drug use (e.g. memory loss, convulsions, psychological distress, hospitalisation etc.)?

Festival season is fun and we know that for a lot of you recreational drugs will be involved. Wherever possible we’ll be there to check your gear and help out with friendly advice but remember, it’s all fun and games until it begins to impact your life, well-being and relationships. Harm reduction is about looking after yourself and each other. Take time to check in with yourself and your friends as we head into festival season, and if you feel you may be slipping into difficult territory reach out to loved ones or your GP. There are also great resources for your next steps available here and here.

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