High levels of eutylone substitution found in O week testing in South Island

Drug checking by KnowYourStuffNZ in Christchurch this week reveals that there is still a lot of eutylone around. 40% of the samples we tested yesterday for UCSA and LUSA’s O week events have turned out to contain eutylone. Last week in Dunedin we found 45% of samples brought by people thinking they had MDMA were actually eutylone.

We saw a lot of this at New Years and it’s still around. Eutylone has been linked to a number of hospitalisations, and a much larger number of people just having a terrible, scary time, with some feeling unwell up to 10 days later.

With a lot of student and other events on this weekend, we recommend that you test your drugs. If you can’t test them, seriously consider not taking them. You cannot tell the difference between MDMA and eutylone based on sight or smell alone. We’ve found eutylone in many different forms this year, including pressed pills and crystals of all sizes and colours, so no type of substance is safer than another.

Our teams are in Christchurch 3pm-8pm tonight (Tuesday 23rd), and will be in Dunedin on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 12pm-6pm. Please use the service if you can – but be mindful of our resources and if you’ve had stuff tested, please share your result with friends using the same source. Otherwise, reagent testing is a good option for eutylone. Here’s a link to info on how to reagent test for eutylone.

This week’s testing has identified two pressed pills that contain eutylone only and no MDMA.

Red Bulls

Rectangular pill with rounded corners, just over 1cm long with a Red Bull logo. Weight: 440mg. Estimated to contain 300-350mg of eutylone. This is a dangerous amount of eutylone and we recommend not taking these pills.

Blue Playboys

Round blue pill ~8mm in diameter with a Playboy logo. This pill was not weighed, but the spectrometer came back showing at least 50% eutylone so it is likely this pill contains over 100mg of it.

What does eutylone feel like?

Initially eutylone feels like MDMA – euphoria but that fades after an hour or so. You may think it is weak MDMA and be tempted to take more. Don’t.

We are hearing far too many tales of miserable experiences with eutylone. The tales are all similar: “last night I took some, after an hour or so I thought it was wearing off so I took some more, was awake all night, and now it’s midday and I can’t sleep and I feel like shit”. In some cases, people have had to wait more than 48 hours before they could sleep.

What are the health risks from eutylone?

Not being able to sleep is the best outcome. Other risks include anxiety, headaches, stomach upsets, agitation, and paranoia. We know of at least two people who have needed medical help, one of whom was having seizures. The worst outcome is vomiting, convulsions, and possibly death.

What to do if you have taken eutylone?

If you have taken it, don’t take any more. Rest, eat, and wait it out. Avoid cannabis, alcohol, and caffeine. Definitely don’t try to drive.

If you have a racing heart, elevated temperature, extreme anxiety, numb, tingling, or cold fingers or toes, or haven’t slept for more than 24 hours, don’t wait. Seek medical help.

If you are looking after someone who has taken eutylone, help them to stay calm and remind them that they will just have to wait it out. Staying on the couch and bingeing TV might not sound like an exciting time, but it’s the best thing they can do in this situation.

Links to more information about eutylone:

Story from someone who took a large dose of eutylone

What to do if you’ve accidentally taken eutylone

Cathinones to look out for this summer

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75% of people will refuse drugs if proved to be cathinones

75% of festival goers that brought their drugs to be checked by KnowYourStuffNZ have said that they will not take drugs they have bought if they turn out to be eutylone in place of MDMA.

KnowYourStuffNZ checked people’s drugs at festivals over New Years Eve. Data from these shows that 75% of people said they would not take their drugs when they found out they had eutylone instead of MDMA. 15% said they would maybe take it, and 10% said they would still take their substances despite finding out it was eutylone and not MDMA. In contrast, 90% of people that found they had MDMA said that they would take it.

This is a big change from previous years. Last year just over 50% of people said they would not take their drugs if they proved to be something other than what they were hoping for. This makes clear that people want to avoid eutylone if they have the information to help them make that decision.

Drug checking by KnowYourStuffNZ in the days leading up to New Years’ Eve showed that nearly 40% of “MDMA” was actually eutylone, an unpredictable and often unpleasant stimulant from the cathinone family.

As KnowYourStuffNZ couldn’t do drug checking at all the festivals over New Years’ Eve, they urged people to buy reagent tests from retailers and test their substances themselves. While not as thorough as spectrometer analysis, reagent tests can show when MDMA has been replaced by a cathinone.

The widespread availability of eutylone prompted a flood of messages to the group. Half were from people that had used a reagent test, found they had been sold cathinones instead of MDMA, and discarded their drugs as a result. The other half were from people that either hadn’t tested their drugs and they had turned out to be eutylone, or had tested them, found them to be eutylone, and taken them anyway. These messages described instances of vomiting foam, insomnia, and extreme anxiety.

“The messages we’ve received show how much worse it could have been,“ says KnowYourStuffNZ Managing Director Wendy Allison.
“Being able to get the message out early and fast meant that by New Years Eve, people knew about eutylone and were helping each other avoid it. While we weren’t able to have a physical presence at every event, the law change and the publicity around made it much easier to get the message out.”

Reagent testing at home to check for cathinones

We’re absolutely flat out this summer, and unfortunately we can’t be everywhere. People that want to check their gear but can’t get to one of our testing sites have been using at home reagent tests to check for cathinones with some success. The main tests that people are using this summer are the EZ tests available from Cosmic.

While this can’t tell you if you’ve had your MDMA spiked, it will tell you if you’ve been sold a cathinone instead of MDMA. We have been hearing from lots of people this summer who bought from a trusted source but were smart enough to get it tested, either by us or with one of these at home tests. Then it turned out to be a cathinone and they binned it, because the slight up really isn’t worth the hellish down.

Warning! Reagent tests can only show the presence of one chemical.

They will not show cathinones if the drug manufacturer has masked them with a trace amount of MDMA. Even if your reagent test is positive for MDMA you should treat it with caution as it may be a mix of MDMA and cathinones.

That being said, reagent tests are better than nothing, and will show you if what you have is just cathinones instead of MDMA.
Most of what we have tested this summer has been just cathinones, not mixtures, so we are confident recommending that you should use these tests if you can’t get to KnowYourStuffNZ to use our FTIR spectrometer.

How the reagent tests work

Each test comes with an ampoule of testing reagent. Simply open the ampoule, drop in a small sample about the size of a couple of grains of salt or the head of a pin, and read the colour chart. Be careful with the reagent. they are corrosive and can burn your skin if the liquid touches you.

EZ Ecstasy test

The ecstasy test will show you if you have MDMA in your or if it contains only cathinones, Unfortunately it can’t tell you if there’s anything else mixed in your MDMA.

Image, an EZ Ecstasy test showing a positive result for MDMA. The reagent has gone a strong purple-black.
This is what a positive ecstasy test looks like. See how dark it is? What you want is a reaction that gives a strong purple black. What you do not want is a yellow reaction. It may go darker orange over time, but if it goes yellow first, it’s a cathinone. Remember, if it’s yellow, it ain’t mellow.
Image of a EZ Ecstasy test with cathinone. The reagent has gone bright yellow.
The test says methylone/butylone, but the reaction will be the same for eutylone, and most other cathinones. Note that reagent tests will give the same result for a 90% cathinone/10% mdma mix as it would for pure mdma so it is far from a guarantee because were also seeing a lot of those mixes.

The test says methylone/butylone, but the reaction will be the same for eutylone, and most other cathinones. Note that reagent tests will give the same result for a 90% cathinone/10% mdma mix as it would for pure mdma so it is far from a guarantee because were also seeing a lot of those mixes.

EZ MDMA purity test

The MDMA purity test shows how much MDMA is in a substance. It’s good for checking if you have a high dose pill or if your MDMA is actually a cathinone. It won’t show you if there’s anything else hiding in your substance.If your mdma is actually just cathinones. It won’t show you if there’s anything else hiding in your substance, or if it contains BOTH MDMA and cathinones

Image of the EZ MDMA Purity test. The reagent has gone pale brown at the top, showing a medium amount of MDMA in the substance tested
If you have MDMA the top layer of the reagent will change colour depending on how much MDMA there is. If there’s lots, it’ll go super dark. This picture shows a medium-strength positive reaction. If any other layers appear, any unexpected colour changes, or things don’t quite dissolve right, there is likely other unknown substances in your sample.
Image of a cathinone sample in the EZ MDMA Purity test. The reagent hasn't changed colour at all.
This is a cathinone in an MDMA purity test. As you can see, there’s been no reaction at all. If it’s clear, you can clearly bin it.

If you’re not sure about your reagent result, do not take your substance.

We’d rather you didn’t play Russian roulette with your drugs this summer. The chances of you having eutylone or a eutylone/MDMA mix is way too high, and we’re pretty sure you don’t want to spend the next few days vomiting and freaking out. Better to be safe than sorry.

Help, I’ve had eutylone! What do?

Eutylone is definitely this summer’s crap drug. Potentially even the crappiest drug since the N-ethylpentylone boom of 2017.

If you’ve accidentally had eutylone, it’s highly likely that you’ll have a shit time. It’s important to remember that it’s only for a finite time, and you’ll be ok once you ride it out. But you have to ride it out first.

What does eutylone feel like?

A lot of people have described it as feeling like they’ve been poisoned. For most people it’s basically a shit time for a long time.
If you’ve had eutylone, what you’ll probably feel is mild euphoria that is short lived, followed by ongoing stimulation and mild to intense anxiety. It’s likely you won’t be able to sleep that night, and possibly for anywhere up to 3-4 days. You may have a high heart rate with lingering or intensifying anxiety. You might also experience vomiting and/or have diarrhea, tremors, or muscle spasms.

One thing to keep in mind is that the eutylone experience is unpredictable – we’ve heard reports of people having a mild eutylone trip, then trying the same dose again another day and getting the anxiety/insomnia symptoms described above

In extreme cases or if it’s interacted badly with any medication you’re on, you get tingling in your feet and hands, you could have seizures, hallucinate, or have psychotic episodes. Your heart rate might also not slow down, or your symptoms might suddenly get worse. If this happens, you definitely need to see the medics or go to A&E as soon as you can.

Time is on your side

The key thing to remember with eutylone is that the symptoms won’t last forever. The anxiety and insomnia will wear off eventually, you just have to wait. It’s important to take good care of yourself until they do.

You might be tempted to smoke some weed to help bring you down, but we strongly advise against that. Y’know that thing about weed sometimes making folks paranoid? That goes from being a possibility to a definitely, and will make the anxiety you’re experiencing worse. (We did say it was a crap drug…)

The chill space is your friend

If you can get someone to take you home or somewhere safe and familiar for your recovery, do it. Build yourself a little nest on the couch and settle in with some light and fluffy tv. This will distract your brain and keep it from chewing on you while you recover.

If you’re at a festival, find somewhere that’s got a chill, low-key vibe. A lot of festivals have quiet spaces run by PsyCare or DeepSpace that are specifically for people that are having a difficult experience. Those spaces will have comfy couches and sensory toys to help ground you, and volunteers that will give you one-on-one help if you’re having a really difficult time.

Honestly, resting in a quiet place is the best thing that you can do for your brain. It limits the chance of having any unexpected confrontational or overwhelming experiences brought on by randoms.

Image, baby Yoda sleeping in his carrier
Rest, snacks, and non-caffeinated non-alcoholic beverages will have you feeling better in no time. Just be gentle with yourself in the mean time.

Drink some water and have snacks

Eating and drinking are about the last thing you’re going to want to do, but they’ll help you recover quicker.

Having little nibbles of things like nuts, chocolate, fruit, jerky, or muesli bars often over the course of the day will get nutrients into you without overloading your belly and making you want to vomit. You’ll be able to keep your food down better if you have little bits a lot of times. Soup is also a great non-challenging food if you can get it.

Staying hydrated is important, especially if you’ve been vomiting or have diarrhea. Water, fruit juice, or drinks with electrolytes in them are great for recovery. Avoid alcohol. Avoid energy drinks and caffeinated drinks like the plague. They’ll jack your heart rate up, add to your anxiety, and keep you awake for even longer. The longer you stay awake, the higher the likelihood is of having a psychotic episode. Stick to the OJ and you’ll come out ok.

How to help if you’re the sober person for your friends

It’s scary watching your friends go through a eutylone experience, even if it’s a mild one. Things you can do are:

  • Bring your friends to the medics if you’re at a festival, or to A&E if you’re in town. They’re trained to deal with situations like eutylone dosing and won’t narc on you or judge you.
  • Help them make a space where they can ride the experience out. Pillows, blankets, low light, and warmth are all good things to have in their recovery nest.
  • Bring them snacks and drinks when they need them
  • If your friends are getting anxious, breathing exercises can help to calm them down.
    Healthline have some good breathing techniques on their website
    https://www.healthline.com/health/breathing-exercises-for-anxiety
  • Grounding exercises can also help if your friend is having a difficult time. Grounding is a way to get the brain’s attention to focus on something instead of getting caught up in the overwhelming anxiety spiral. Healthline have some great techniques that you can try on their site:
    https://www.healthline.com/health/grounding-techniques

Whether it is you or your friend that is struggling, reassurance can really make all the difference in managing the experience- particularly when it comes to the psychological symptoms. Remind yourself, or them, frequently that the symptoms are coming from the drug, not them. It will pass, they will be OK.

Don’t wait to seek help if you need it.

ALERT: Dangerous cathinones are bloody everywhere this summer

Drug checking by KnowYourStuffNZ is revealing that this is the summer of cathinones. More than half of the samples we have tested at New Year’s festivals have not been MDMA but instead more dangerous stimulants from the cathinones family.

The most common cathinone right now is eutylone. We saw small amounts last year and now there’s heaps of it around. This is a big change and bad news.

We recommend not taking eutylone.

What does eutylone feel like?

Initially eutylone feels like MDMA – euphoria but that fades after an hour or so. You may think it is weak MDMA and be tempted to take more. Don’t.

We are hearing far too many tales of miserable experiences with eutylone. The tales are all similar: “last night I took some, after an hour or so I thought it was wearing off so I took some more, was awake all night, and now it’s midday and I can’t sleep and I feel like shit”. In some cases, people have had to wait more than 48 hours before they could sleep.

What are the health risks from eutylone?

Not being able to sleep is the best outcome. Other risks include anxiety, headaches, stomach upsets, agitation, and paranoia. We know of at least two people who have needed medical help, one of whom was having seizures. The worst outcome is vomiting, convulsions, and possibly death.

What to do if you have taken eutylone?

If you have taken it, don’t take any more. Rest, eat, and wait it out. Avoid cannabis, alcohol, and caffeine. Definitely don’t try to drive.

If you have a racing heart, elevated temperature, extreme anxiety, numb, tingling, or cold fingers or toes, or haven’t slept for more than 24 hours, don’t wait. Seek medical help.

If you are looking after someone who has taken eutylone, help them to stay calm and remind them that they will just have to wait it out. Staying on the couch and bingeing TV might not sound like an exciting time, but it’s the best thing they can do in this situation.

How to tell if you have eutylone or MDMA?

You cannot tell the difference between MDMA and eutylone based on sight or smell alone.

We have tested eutylone in many different forms this season:

  • white powder
  • brown powder
  • light-coloured lumps that look like Turkish Delight
  • brown smelly lumps that look like broken biscuit
  • cream-coloured rocks
  • light blue pills with a Playboy logo
  • round yellow pills with a Spiderman logo front and back
  • blue Superman pills
  • some of the round blue Monster pills (some have tested as MDMA, some as cathinones)

Get your stuff tested before taking it.

"Biscuit crumbs" of eutylone White rock of eutylone Orange brown lumps of eutylone Cream powder of eutylone

Blue Superman Eutylone pill Cream Eutylone rock Round yellow Eutylone pill

We have found cathinones all over the country, not just in specific regions.

KnowYourStuffNZ’s spectrometers can’t be everywhere but reagent tests may help. Most of the eutylone that we have seen has not been mixed with other substances. With the Cosmic EZTest or the Hemp Store Marquis test then cathinones will turn yellow, instead of the black that MDMA gives.

Reagent tests are also not good at telling the difference between cathinones, but the harm reduction advice is the same for all of them – best avoid them.

However, we hear that Cosmic and the Hemp Store are low on stock for their reagent test kits. If you have a spare test kit, look out for everyone else and ask around to see if anyone else needs testing.

Our recommendation

We recommend not taking eutylone.

The people who have been getting in touch with us after (or during) unpleasant experiences also recommend not taking eutylone, probably using stronger language than us.

There’s so much eutylone around right now and so little MDMA that we say that if it’s not tested, don’t take it.

If you do want to take that risk, then take only a small amount, don’t redose, don’t drink alcohol, and consider having at least one sober person with you who you can turn to for help if you need it.

Actual MDMA is pretty scarce at the moment. Maybe we can blame COVID for the lack of MDMA? Whatever the reason, just stay safe out there.