Notification: High dose MDMA pills still a risk this summer

KnowYourStuffNZ is testing a fair number of high-dose MDMA pills. These are more risky because the dosage is excessive. While we’re seeing lots of cathinones, there is still plenty of MDMA around.

These pills should be approached with caution.

We advise that the only way to guarantee safety is to not take them. If you 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 Porsche copies) also contain 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. Some of these pills contain more than two doses in a single pill. We recommend weighing your doses wherever possible.

Taking too much MDMA can cause 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, get medical help straight away.

Please note that the amount of MDMA in these pills is only an indication. Our spectrometers are good at telling what substances are present but not great at working out exactly how much. We recommend always erring on the side of caution.

Suspected high dose pills include:

Description Image
Blue New York Yankees
Light blue/turquoise, round, quite thick, NY logo on front, dividing line on reverse
Weight: 350mg
Estimated to contain 150mg MDMA
Note: pills of this size, shape, and colour last year contained 250-300mg MDMA

Colour and size reference chart

Green Four Leaf Clover
Pale green, round
Weight: 380 mg
Estimated to contain 230mg MDMA
Purple Givenchy
Pinky-purple, square, Givenchy logo on front, “givenchy 260mg” on back with dividing line
Weight: 430-460mg
Estimated to contain 250mg MDMA

Orange Soundcloud
Orange, cloud shaped, Soundcloud logo on front, divider line on back
Weight: 440 mg
Estimated to contain 250mg MDMA
Blue Kenzo
Blue, tiger head on front, “KENZO” on back
Weight: 380mg
Estimated to contain 150mg MDMA
Note: pills of this size, shape, and colour last year contained 200-300mg MDMA
Red Iron Man
Red-pink, Iron Man logo
Weight: 370mg
Estimated to contain 150mg MDMA
Yellow #MeToo
Rectangular, “#MeToo” on front, two fists on back, dividing line
Weight: 460mg
Estimated to contain 200mg MDMA
Pink Porsche
Pink, Porsche logo on front and reverse
Weight: 260mg
Estimated to contain 160mg of MDMA and 100mg of caffeine, equivalent to 1 or 2 cups of coffee
A copy of previous Pink Porsches which did not contain caffeine
Purple Superman
Tests as nothing but plaster of Paris
No MDMA found
Sucks if you bought this one

Drug harm reduction tips to keep in mind this summer

While we advise that not taking drugs is the only way to guarantee safety, we’ve compiled a list of drug harm reduction tips to help you be safer this summer.

Be absolutely sure you know what you’re taking

before

you take it.

There’s nothing that ruins summer faster than a trip to the medic’s tent because some dickhead’s sold you cathinones instead of MDMA, or spiked your coke with fentanyl. Those ground drugs you just found might not be the score you thought they were. We’ll be checking people’s drugs at events up and down the country this summer, so come and see us.

If you can’t get to one of our drug checking services, you can buy reagent tests from the Hemp Store or Cosmic. They can tell you if your MDMA contains MDMA. They can’t tell you if your MDMA also has things that aren’t MDMA in it like the FTIR spectrometers can, but it’s better than nothing at all.

Reagent tests will only tell you what the strongest substance in your sample is, and can only measure one ingredient.

The trouble is that adulterants like anything in the cathinone family, NBOME, or fentanyl are so potent they need a far lower concentration to be dangerous. This makes them easy to mask with other substances. This will throw off reagent tests. It’s always best to run your substances through one of our spectrometers if you can.

Check the KnowYourStuffNZ latest news page and HighAlert site for dangerous drug alerts. You can also check our pill library to see if we’ve already come across something you’ve bought.

Avoid mixing your substances

Some drugs play well together, some don’t. It’s safest not to mix your substances at all. It’s not the kind of thing you want to roll the dice on because you can wind up in hospital or dead.

Even seemingly innocent combos like illicit substances and alcohol should be avoided.
For example, if you take ketamine while drinking there’s a risk of getting stuck in a K hole, vomiting, and choking to death. If you use cannabis while drinking there’s an increased risk of paranoia and depression. (Basically don’t mix alcohol with anything, it’s a shit time)

TripSit has a brilliant interaction chart that’s also available as an app that you can double check the level of harm from any potential interactions you’re thinking of taking.

If you’re on antidepressants or antianxiety medication (especially MAOIs) or Tramadol, we strongly advise you don’t take anything other than your prescribed medication. Mixing psychoactives with these medications is incredibly dangerous, and people have died from it.

Start low, go slow, especially on your first time

If you’re taking a new substance, or are taking substances for the first time, it’s always good to go cautiously. Even if you’re a seasoned psychonaut we advise that starting with half your dose and waiting at least an hour to see how you feel.

Things to watch out for are:

  • Confusion
  • Agitation or restlessness
  • Dilated pupils
  • Headache
  • Changes in blood pressure and/or temperature
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Tremor
  • Loss of muscle control or twitching muscles
  • Shivering and goosebumps
  • Heavy sweating

Party with people you trust, and have a sober person

If you’re in an altered state you are vulnerable. You’re more likely to say yes to things you might ordinarily say no to. Make sure the people you’re with will respect your boundaries. With hypersocial drugs like MDMA it’s a good idea to set down ground rules of what you’re comfortable with before you ingest.

Keep in mind that consent obtained under the influence of a substance is not legally viewed as consent.

Having a sober person on hand if anything goes wrong is always important. Someone to remind you that gravity is real and you can’t actually fly from one stage to the next is a good idea. You might need them to call an ambulance if you decide to give flying a crack anyway.

Plan a safe drive home

Driving home from a festival in the sticks is one of the biggest risks. Make sure you are sober and well-rested before that marathon mission to get back home. Share the driving if you can.

Come and see us in the KnowYourStuffNZ drug checking tent!

We’re always keen to say hi and make sure you’re being responsible hedonists, so pop your head in and bring us something to run through the FTIR.

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. 

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.

34735177654_35eb166e10_k
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

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