New drug research has confirmed a common belief among recreational ecstasy users that purity of MDMA tablets has decreased and a quarter of tablets contain no active drug at all.

The research by Cate Quinn from Victorian Police Forensic Services Department was published by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre last month.

It found 52 percent of tablet seizures in 2007 contained MDMA as the only active component, down from 64 percent in 2004.

“Users are aware that what they purchase and consume as ‘ecstasy’ may not necessarily contain MDMA, but large proportions rely on anecdotal reports from friends and dealers to inform them of drug content and purity,” analysis by Matthew Dunn and Louise Degenhardt from the national centre said.

Tablets with methylamphetamine or ketamine as the only active ingredient, but marketed as ecstasy, had all but disappeared, from the about 40 percent of tablets seized in 2004.

Around 25 percent of tablets seized last year contained no active drug, more than doubling in the last year.

A 2007 survey of drug users suggested government campaigns warning users about the risk of contaminants has been successful.

“Many participants indicated that a major risk of consuming ecstasy is the unknown contaminants, and [a proportion] indicated that they would not consume pills if they contained other substances such as methamphetamine and ketamine,” Dunn and Degenhardt’s report response stated.

The research centre was releasing the information so users could make informed decisions based on credible evidence, but warned that the drug market changes frequently.

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. If you think you may need help with a substance abuse problem, call the Alcohol and Other Drugs care, support and information line on 9206 2081.

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