A new study from New York University reveals the percentage of admitted MDMA users who have unknowingly used synthetic cathinones - commonly known as "bath salts" - and other novel psychoactive substances.

The proliferation of novel psychoactive compounds has been an unintended consequence of drug prohibition. As governments ban drugs, illicit labs scramble to create compounds which have similar effects, but are chemically different enough to skirt current laws. This new NYU study shows that approximately 40% of the MDMA users in the study who claim to have never taken "bath salts" tested positive for synthetic cathinones or other novel psychoactive compounds in hair-strand analysis.

While real MDMA is not without risks, these novel compounds have the potential to be far more dangerous because so little is known about them. MDMA has a long history of human use in both recreational and medical/therapeutic settings, and its risks are generally well understood. Taking MDMA will always come with some dangers, but these risks can be mitigated by understanding the potentially dangerous side effects, avoiding dangerous drug interactions, and taking various preventative measures to prevent overheating and dehydration.

Many of the compounds that have surfaced over the last decade are completely new, being distributed on the black market only weeks after being invented. The dangers of these compounds are obviously not understood, so they pose unknown, possibly deadly risks to users. This makes the results of this study particularly frightening, as many users are unknowingly ingesting them.

One of the drugs identified in the study was alpha-PVP, more commonly known by the street name "flakka". It's a particularly dangerous synthetic cathinone that has been linked to a large number of hospitalizations and several violent encounters with police.

Dr. Joseph J. Palamar, PhD, MPH, who authored the study had this to say:

“Ecstasy wasn’t always such a dangerous drug, but it is becoming increasingly risky because it has become so adulterated with new drugs that users and the scientific community alike know very little about. Users need to be aware that what they are taking may not be MDMA.”

“As Molly is becoming a much riskier substance, I really hope that those who decide to use educate themselves about what they’re doing. While it is safest to avoid use, test kits are available online for those who decide to use, and want to ensure that they’re taking real MDMA and not a new synthetic stimulant such as Flakka.”

If you choose to use MDMA, head over to DanceSafe to learn more about testing kits and other harm reduction measures.

Source: NYU.edu

Image: NJ.com

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Chris Cox

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