April 13, 2024
Recreational Drugs

Chemists Discover New Recreational Drugs in Australia, Potential Health Risks Remain Unknown

Chemists at CanTEST, Australia’s only fixed-site drug checking service located in Canberra, have identified three new recreational drugs that have never been reported in Australia before. The discoveries were made by Professor Malcolm McLeod and a team of chemists from The Australian National University (ANU). These drugs, whose effects are believed to be similar to stimulant-like substances such as MDMA (ecstasy) and ketamine, have raised concerns about the potential health risks to users.

The first substance submitted for testing, believed to be a derivative of Ritalin, was actually identified as a new variant of cathinone or bath salts. Cathinone is a dangerous family of chemicals that have proven to be lethal in some cases. While there are already various cathinone variants circulating in the community, the discovery of a new one raises concerns about its potential effects on individuals and the health consequences it may pose.

The second substance, believed to be a ketamine-like substance, was identified as a new type of benzylpiperazine (BZP) stimulant. BZP is often used as a substitute for MDMA. However, little is known about this specific variant of BZP and its effects.

The third substance, initially believed to be a cathinone drug, was later identified as a new phenethylamine drug called propylphenidine. Phenethylamines include stimulant drugs like amphetamine, methamphetamine, and MDMA. The uncertainty surrounding the substance’s identity prompted its testing to avoid any potential risks or surprises.

The on-site analysis conducted at CanTEST ruled out the expected substances but proved inconclusive. Further laboratory testing at the ANU Research School of Chemistry helped scientists identify the true nature of the drugs. After making these discoveries, CanTEST workers immediately notified the community, informing them about these new substances and their potential risks.

The ability of drug checking services like CanTEST to identify and advise individuals about novel drugs is crucial in terms of public health. It can not only change consumer behaviors but also potentially detect new drugs as they emerge, even before they gain traction in local markets.

CanTEST has previously detected other new substances in the community. In October 2022, chemists discovered a mysterious drug with qualities similar to ketamine but with a unique chemical composition.

Since its opening in July 2022, CanTEST has analyzed over 1,700 samples. An evaluation of the first six months of CanTEST found that 1 in 10 samples were discarded by clients after learning what was in them. Moreover, more than half of the drugs tested at the clinic were not what users expected.

Dr. David Caldicott, Clinical lead for CanTEST and Pill Testing Australia, emphasized the importance of drug checking services in changing drug behaviors and reducing harm for users. He called for other states and territories in Australia to follow the ACT’s lead and implement similar services nationwide.

While these recent discoveries shed light on the presence of new recreational drugs in Australia, the potential health risks associated with these substances remain unknown. Continued research and monitoring are necessary to understand the short- and long-term impacts on users’ health.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it