An article ran in an Adelaide newspaper last week claiming that heroin-laced ecstasy pills were flooding the city for the first time, sparking fears of overdose, deaths and addiction.

The piece went on to claim that one source, who did not want to be named said that these brown speckled pills contained opium from Afghanistan.

I find it unbelievable that a major newspaper would run a story like this based on nothing but hearsay. It feeds into all of the mythology about drug use and appears to be based on no good evidence whatsoever.

Many people, including many drug users themselves, believe that illegal drugs can often be cut with a variety of different dangerous substances. These can range from products found in the laundry cupboard, such as washing-up powder and bleach, through to rat poison, kitty litter and crushed-up glass.

There is also the belief that sometimes other more dangerous illicit drugs are added, either to enhance the effect or to get the unsuspecting user hooked on the other substance.

This is particularly true when it comes to ecstasy, with many users believing that some pills contain heroin (often referred to as smacky Es). In actual fact, there is little evidence to support either of these beliefs.

Drugs that are seized by police are routinely tested both here and internationally. There is a great deal of forensic evidence available and many of the substances often discussed have never been found.

Drugs definitely have things added to them to improve profit margins, but usually these products are fairly benign and may include paracetamol, caffeine, glucose, lactose and other sugars. Bicarbonate of soda and Epsom salts are also sometimes found.

Of course, if you’re talking about pills and tablets, a variety of starch and gums are also used to bind the drug together.

It is important to let people know that there is no way of being certain what is in any illicit substance. Stories about drugs containing all types of weird things such as rat poison and kitty litter are usually just that -” stories.

We need to make sure that we don’t get carried away worrying about potentially dangerous adulterants that could have been added to the mix.

When we do that, we lose sight of the incredibly important message that what they are intending to buy is risky in itself.

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 blas?/p>

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