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August 11, 2017


The AOD policy website Volteface has published an article titled "Fired up: Why are Ecstasy related deaths increasing in the UK?".  The article provides evidence that in 2015, there were 72 ecstasy (MDMA) related deaths in the UK, the second highest number of deaths on record.  The article attempts to compare rates of ecstasy use with the numbers of deaths in order to show the degree of risk associated with ecstasy use.  The authors found the mortality rate of ecstasy-related deaths to be one death per 6968 last-year users (approximately one death per 10 000 users).  This is broadly equivalent to the risk posed by motor sports, water sports, mountain hiking, being a road user, giving birth, liposuction, taking anti-depressants or being in police custody.

Go to "Fired up: Why are Ecstasy related deaths increasing in the UK?"

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August 11, 2017


An article has been published in the "Harm Reduction Journal" titled "An overview of forensic drug testing methods and their suitability for harm reduction point-of-care services".  The article describes the range of devices that are able to determine the contents of substances, and considers their potential utility in harm reduction point-of-care services including drug checking services. Technology in this area evolves rapidly and this article considers issues such as the amount of training required to use a particular device, the accuracy and portability.

Go to "An overview of forensic drug testing methods and their suitability for harm reduction point-of-care services."

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May 19, 2017


The Drug Policy Alliance has produced a series of four short videos about MDMA, Methamphetamine, Heroin and Cocaine which aim to present straightforward, factual information. Each video is only two minutes long and covers the history of each of these drugs, how they work, the major health risks of each substance and practice harm reduction advice.

Read more and watch the videos here.


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March 10, 2017


The Alcohol and Drug Foundation (formerly known as the Australian Drug Foundation) have re-launched their Drug Facts website.  The site contains information on a broad range of drugs, in an accessible format suitable for any worker.  Each fact sheet contains information on the specific substance including how the substance is used, an overview of the effects and harms, and information on rates of use in the population.

Go to the ADF Drug Facts website

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October 28, 2016


The EDRS (Ecstasy and Related Drugs Reporting System) is an annual study that monitors trends in price, purity and availability of a range substances and attempts to identify trends and changes in the drug market.  The EDRS involves interviews with regular drug users, as well as interviews with key informants from the sector.  There is a Queensland component, which is one of the few studies that provides insight in local drug trends.  The 2016 EDRS Key findings included an increase in the use of MDMA crystal or powder, which a majority of users reported as being "high" purity.  Powdered methamphetamine remained the most commonly used form of the drug, with 25% of respondents reporting recent use, followed by 19% reporting recent use of crystal methamphetamine.  A number of other substances are used by this cohort, including 15% reporting recent use of DMT, 13% reporting recent use of a 2C-type substance such as 2CB, and 6% reporting the use of DXM.

Go to "Ecstasy and Related Drugs Reporting System 2016 Key Findings"

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May 6, 2016


The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) have published a report titled "Recent Changes in Europe's Ecstasy / MDMA Market".  The report describes recent trends in MDMA manufacture, which have seen global purity increase. Evidence from the Netherlands indicates that a large proportion of Ecstasy tablets being tested at drug checking services contain very high doses of MDMA.  There is also evidence from the United Kingdom of increasing availability of high purity crystal MDMA.  These changes in the European Ecstasy market will impact on Australia, as much of the world's MDMA is produced in Europe.  Given the regular fluctuations in Ecstasy purity, there are increased risks of overdose and other adverse health outcomes.

Go to "Recent changes in Europe's MDMA / Ecstasy Market"

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February 19, 2016


ABC's 4 Corners recently screened an episode focused specifically on the use of drugs like Ecstasy (MDMA).  The episode followed groups of young people as they scored and used MDMA at music festivals and parties, exploring the risks associated with these drugs, and the potential for harm reduction initiatives such as drug checking services.  This episode of 4 Corners is timely, with 7 deaths occurring over the past year of young people attending music festivals.

Watch "Dying to Dance"

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August 7, 2015


A recent edition of the current affairs program "60 Minutes" featured a report about adulterant screening programs for ecstasy users.  Given the increasing frequency of dangerous adulterants such as PMA appearing in batches of ecstasy tablets, this timely story looks at adulterant screening programs in the Netherlands and Austria.  The Austrian program involves on-site testing of ecstasy tablets, with real time results provided back to people who are using the drug.  In the Netherlands, people who use ecstasy can take their tablets into an alcohol and drug service, where their pill is tested and a brief intervention is provided.  The report also contains interviews with Dr David Caldicott from Calvary Hospital in the ACT as well as the family of a young woman who died after consuming 3 ecstasy tablets when confronted with police sniffer dogs at the Perth Big Day Out.

Go to "60 Minutes: Testing Times"

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March 20, 2015


Global dance music magazine "Mixmag" has published an article titled "Ecstasy in 2015".  Ecstasy, or MDMA, has been widely available around the world since the late 1980's, and in that time there have been many changes in the market.  This has included increasing numbers of adulterated tablets, but also more recently the increase in high potency MDMA tablets.  The Mixmag article covers the current situation with the global Ecstasy market including changes in precursor chemicals, increasing availability of highly dangerous batches of PMA / PMMA and the rise of "molly" - powdered MDMA.

Read "Ecstasy in 2015"

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February 27, 2015


There has recently been some concern about PMA / PMMA being sold as Ecstasy (MDMA).  While there's currently no evidence that this is occurring in Australia there have been several batches on this substance in circulation in recent years, leading to several deaths in Queensland and elsewhere in Australia.  PMA (paramethoxyamphetamine) and it's closely related cousin PMMA (paramethoxymethamphetamine) are highly toxic substances, significantly more dangerous than MDMA.  PMA / PMMA can cause dangerous overheating at relatively low doses.  A UK-based organisation "Release" has published a handy graphic that explains the differences between MDMA and PMA / PMMA and includes some very useful harm reduction information for people who use substances.

Go to MDMA vs PMA infographic

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