Local Govt | National News Video | Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Search

 

Demand for drug checking doubles, harm reduction catches on

Testing by KnowYourStuffNZ at music festivals this summer reveals that more people than ever before are choosing not to take dangerous drugs. When people discovered that their drugs were not what they were expected, 62% of them were willing not to take them.

The testing, carried out by KnowYourStuffNZ in partnership with NZ Drug Foundation, took place at thirteen festivals. Samples were brought in voluntarily by users and tested for content using chemical reagents and FTIR spectroscopy. 805 samples were tested, almost doubling the number of tests from last year. Of those samples, 87% tested as containing the substances that were expected.

MDMA was again the most popular substance, with both more samples of the drug being presented for testing and a higher percentage of the samples confirmed as containing MDMA. This summer, 90% of samples presumed to be MDMA actually contained MDMA.

Wendy Allison, Managing Director of KnowYourStuffNZ, said this was to be expected and that a similar trend had been observed by other data collection agencies. “From a harm reduction perspective, it means that the risk of harm from inadvertently ingesting unknown substances is reduced,” she said. “However users should be cautious, as there are pills out there that contain some very high doses.”

Over thirty brightly coloured ‘high-dose’ pills with a variety of shapes and logos were found, some containing up to 300mg of MDMA. “This is a continuation and expansion of what we saw last year,” says Allison. “300mg is around three times the ‘normal’ dose of MDMA - if someone took that without knowing, they could be at serious risk of harm.” KnowYourStuffNZ released a warning about high-dose MDMA pills in March.

In previous years a range of substitutions were seen when samples were not MDMA, but this summer n-ethylpentylone, a potentially dangerous cathinone, has become the main substitute. n-ethylpentylone is a stimulant that causes anxiety, insomnia, racing heart, and high blood pressure, and has been responsible for a number of hospitalisations in New Zealand in the last 2 years. It was found at almost all events attended by KnowYourStuffNZ in the 2018/2019 festival season. Several samples of caffeine being sold as MDMA were also found.

New drugs also continued to appear. Of particular concern was eutylone, a cathinone that has been reported by users as being responsible for several hospitalisations. An alert was issued by KnowYourStuffNZ in April after eutylone was detected at events from the upper North Island to lower South Island.

This year, clients were surveyed to find out more about who uses drug checking services. Most clients are young, but many older people are also using the service. Half of the respondents were under 25, half over 25, and one in 20 were 45 or older. Most people had had no experience with drug checking or harm reduction services prior to seeing KnowYourStuffNZ.

The survey findings also suggested that people are aware that taking drugs is risky, but without harm reduction advice they are less aware that it's possible to mitigate those risks. 87% of clients who had used KnowYourStuffNZ’s services before said that their approach to taking drugs had changed as a result of the advice they had received.

KnowYourStuffNZ’s data shows that most people will make safer choices if they have access to factual information that allows them to assess the risks more accurately, with 62% of people stating that they did not intend to consume their substance after it tested to be something unexpected.

Three-quarters of respondents had previously experienced taking drugs that were not what they were supposed to be. “They reported effects ranging from ‘unpleasant’ to more serious situations needing medical help,” says Allison. “We knew that it would be a significant number, but 75% is worrying. To reduce this risk is the reason KnowYourStuffNZ exists.”

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

New Reports: Flood Risk From Rain And Sea Under Climate Change

One report looks at what would happen when rivers are flooded by heavy rain and storms, while the other examines flooding exposure in coastal and harbour areas and how that might change with sea-level rise.

Their findings show that across the country almost 700,000 people and 411,516 buildings worth $135 billion are presently exposed to river flooding in the event of extreme weather events...

There is near certainty that the sea will rise 20-30 cm by 2040. By the end of the century, depending on whether global greenhouse gas emissions are reduced, it could rise by between 0.5 to 1.1 m, which could add an additional 116,000 people exposed to extreme coastal storm flooding. More>>

ALSO:

 
 

Gordon Campbell: On The Commerce Commission Fuel Report

The interim Commerce Commission report on the fuel industry will do nothing to endear the major oil companies to the New Zealand public... More>>

ALSO:

Emergency Govt Bill: Overriding Local Licensing For The Rugby

“It’s pretty clear some clubs are having difficulty persuading their district licensing committees to grant a special licence to extend their hours for this obviously special event, and so it makes sense for Parliament to allow clubs to meet a community desire." More>>

ALSO:

Leaving Contract Early: KiwiBuild Programme Losing Another Top Boss

Ms O'Sullivan began a six-month contract as head of KiwiBuild Commercial in February, but the Housing Ministry has confirmed she has resigned and will depart a month early to take up a new job. More>>

ALSO:

Proposed National Policy Statement: Helping Our Cities Grow Up And Out

“We need a new approach to planning that allows our cities to grow up, especially in city centres and around transport connections. We also have to allow cities to expand in a way that protects our special heritage areas, the natural environment and highly productive land." More>>

ALSO:

Ombudsman's Report: Ngāpuhi Elder 'Shocked' By Conditions At Ngawha Prison

A prominent Ngāpuhi elder is shocked to find inmates at Ngawha Prison are denied water and forced to relieve themselves in the exercise yard... Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier has released a report highly critical of conditions at the Northland prison. More>>

ALSO:

Promises: Independent Election Policy Costing Unit A Step Closer

The creation of an entity to provide political parties with independent and non-partisan policy costings is a step closer today, according to Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Associate Finance Minister James Shaw. More>>

ALSO:

School's In: Primary And Intermediate Principals Accept New Offer

Primary and intermediate school principals have voted to accept a new settlement from the Ministry of Education, which includes entrenched pay parity with secondary principals. More>>

ALSO:

IPCA On 'Rawshark' Investigation: Multiple Police Failings In Hager Searches Confirmed

The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found that the Police's unlawful search of Nicky Hager's property in October 2014 resulted from an unwitting neglect of duty and did not amount to misconduct by any individual officer... More>>

ALSO:

Broadcasting Standards: Decisions On Coverage Of Mosque Attacks

The Authority upheld one of these complaints, finding that the use of extensive excerpts from the alleged attacker’s livestream video on Sky News New Zealand had the potential to cause significant distress to audiences in New Zealand, and particularly to the family and friends of victims, and the wider Muslim community. More>>

 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

InfoPages News Channels