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Type of submission: Oral
Conference track: Practice
Topics: Safer Nightlife; Party Drug Harm Reduction
Presenting author: Mireia Ventura
Mireia Ventura, Fernando Caudevilla
Drug checking services are useful tools for reducing the number of drug-related incidents, monitoring new substances or patterns of use, and providing information and assessment to drug users.
The drug checking service of Energy Control since its foundation in 2000 has analysed more than 25.000 substances, mainly from Spain. After the consolidation of our national service, we dared to take a step forward and to work on an international basis.
Drug users who purchase drugs in dark web markets were the target population. From April 2014 until September 2016, more than 1600 samples from abroad were analysed.
Cocaine was the substance most frequently submitted for analysis. Purity levels were high, although more than 80% of cocaine samples were adulterated. Levamisole contamination seems to be a widespread problem, as reported in the rest of the global drug market. Results for MDMA pills, showing very high doses of MDMA that can lead to significant adverse or toxic effects, are similar to those reported by other harm reduction groups offering drug testing programmes. A quarter of all received samples were sold as Novel Psychoactive Substances (NPS). However, related to NPS, it was detected a disturbing phenomenon, the inclusion of these substances as adulterants in the most commonly consumed illicit drugs including ecstasy, amphetamine, LSD, heroin and ketamine. Although this is not common in this particular type of markets, some dangerous adulterations have been detected such as the adulteration of heroin with Ocfentanil.
Data about purities of drugs purchased in cryptomarkets suggest that adulteration is not a severe problem and this agrees with users’ perceptions. However, we also detected that adulteration is a real threat not only at street level, but also for users that buy substances in cryptomarkets, and suggests the need for harm reduction initiatives in this setting.