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October 13, 2017


The Ecstasy and Related Drugs Reporting System (EDRS) 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 2017 EDRS key findings included a significant decline in use of 'any' methamphetamine, with a particularly significant decrease in the use of crystal methamphetamine. Ecstasy use remained stable and the ecstasy market continued to diversify in 2017.  Pills were the most common form of MDMA used, however there were significant increases in the use of MDMA crystal, capsules and powder.  Another interesting trend was an increase in the use of magic mushrooms, LSD, ketamine and DMT, although the frequency of use was low.

Go to the 2017 Ecstasy and Related Drugs Preliminary findings

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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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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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December 2, 2016


The National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) has published a Drug Trends Bulletin titled "New psychoactive substance use among regular psychostimulant users in Australia 2010 - 2016."  The report looks at data from the annual EDRS (Ecstasy and Related Drugs Study), an annual study of regular drug users that looks at changes in price, purity and availability of a range of substances.  The bulletin found that across the years from 2010 - 2016 40.5% of regular psychostimulant users reported any use of a new psychoactive substance in the previous six months, with considerable fluctuations across this time.  By 2016, around 15% of participants had recently used either a phenethylamine (including drugs like 2C-B) or a tryptamine (including drugs like 5-MeO-DMT).

Go to "New psychoactive substance use among regular psychostimulant users in Australia 2010 - 2016"

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July 22, 2016


The UK-based Novel Psychoactive Treatment UK Network (Neptune) has published an article titled "Harms of synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists (SCRAs) and their management". The article provides an overview of the pharmacology of synthetic cannabinoinds,  strategies for identifying and assessing acute harms in medical settings, management of acute intoxication as well as information on harms from longer term use of synthetic cannabinoids.

Download "Harms of synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists (SCRAs) and their management" (1MB PDF)

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July 8, 2016


An article has been recently published on the tech blog Gizmodo titled "There really is an LSD shortage and here's why".  The article describes the global availability of LSD which appears to be on the decline, partly due a significant police seizure back 2000, which saw most of the global LSD supply seized.  It is also theorised that the death of Jerry Garcia from the Grateful Dead meant that the band stopped touring, and these tours had been associated with significant LSD distribution throughout the United States.  This fascinating article provides a snapshot of the complex nature of global drug markets, and shows how LSD's future may well be in legitimate therapeutic research which has recently been re-started after a long hiatus. Whatever the cause of the decline in LSD availability, the gap in the market has been filled with a growing number of novel psychoactive substances such as the NBOMe-type hallucinogens, which are significantly more harmful than LSD.


Go to "There really is an LSD shortage, and here's why"

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March 31, 2016


The Mephedrone Handbook published in 2015 in the United Kingdom is a guide for drug workers and other professionals working with mephedrone users and also includes a section that focuses on novel psychoactive substances (NPS), the chemical families these compounds belong to, and the appropriate treatment response that could be tailored for people who experience problems with these drugs.

Check out the handbook here

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February 25, 2016


ABC's "7.30 Report" recently broadcast a story titled "Deadly and illegal synthetic drugs still available over the shop counter."  In the story, reporter Matt Wordsworth describes the recent death of a 17-year old in New South Wales, which was related to his use of a synthetic cannabis product.  While the report focuses on New South Wales, similar issues are occurring here in Queensland, with two deaths last year in Mackay following the use of a synthetic cannabis product.  In this report, Matt Wordsworth purchases some synthetic cannabis and has the contents analysed by a forensic chemist to find out exactly what is in it.

Watch the full story here.

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November 13, 2015


Synthetic cannabinoids first emerged in Australia in 2009, with the product "Kronic" gaining widespread media attention.  Since this time, there have been hundreds of similar synthetic cannabinoids appearing on the drug market, and alongside this there has been evidence of significant harm.  An article has been published on The Conversation website, providing an update on some of the newer synthetic cannabinoids indicating the ever increasing potency of these products and evidence of harm.  The authors point out that in 2011 - 2013, the most commonly available synthetic cannabinoids were several times more potent than THC, the active ingredient in the cannabis plant.  By 2014 - 15, some synthetic cannabinoids were up to 700 times more potent than THC.

Go to "Labs make new, dangerous synthetic cannabinoid drugs faster than we can ban them."

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October 7, 2015


In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of new drugs hitting the market.  The cathinone-type stimulants have been one group of chemicals that have appeared in Queensland - probably the most well known being MDPV, sometimes referred to as "bath salts".  A close relative of MDPV is a-PVP (alpha-pyrrolidinovalerophenone), a potent stimulant which has a range of possible harms.  The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDAA) in conjunction with Europol have published a joint report on a-PVP, bringing together information from across Europe on the use and harms from this substance.  The report describes 106 deaths across Europe as well as a number of hospital presentations.

Go to EMCDDA-Europol Joint Report on a new psychoactive substance: a-PVP

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