One of the most commonly debated topics amongst clubbers is the quality of the drugs that they buy. Due to the illicit nature of drugs such as ecstasy and speed there is no real way of knowing exactly what it is that you are buying. That is one of the very real risks of using illegal drugs.

Some people rely on testing kits to let them know what is in a pill, but these tests give only very limited information and can give a false sense of security. The pill may have MDMA in it but that doesn’t mean it is safe and you don’t know what other substances may be present.

This week the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) released a bulletin examining the illicit tablet market in Victoria. It provides some very interesting information on the pill market and, although the data is likely to not be exactly the same for NSW, there is no real reason to imagine that there would be any major differences here.

A previous bulletin in 2004 reported that the three most common illicit drugs in tablet seizures were MDMA, methylamphetamine (speed) and ketamine. It also found that the quantity and mix of drugs varied from batch to batch, and thus weekly and yearly.

Between 2004 and 2007, MDMA continued to be the dominant drug found in illicit tablets. Among tablets for which MDMA was the dominant drug, more than half of these seizures were tablets where MDMA was the only active component. The average purity had dropped since 2004 (from 33 percent to 25 percent). The maximum purity had also dropped (from 62 percent to 61 percent), peaking in 2005 at 75 percent.

There has been an increase in the percentage of tablets that have no drug in recent years. There has also been a less frequent detection of speed in tablets between 2004 and 2007.

So what does this all mean? Basically if you get a pill with MDMA in it the quality is pretty similar to what it has been for the past few years. However, there is a greater chance of getting a pill with no active ingredient. One of the greatest risks of using illicit drugs continues to be never knowing what you are getting.

Remember: if you do not want any negative consequences, do not use the drug and, no matter how many times you have used a substance, never be blasé.

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