Drug Alerts

Dangerous Ecstasy Alert

A recent alert from Avon and Somerset Police warns of ecstasy tablets which have been found to contain a substance called n-ethylpentylone. This is a “novel psychoactive substance” (or “designer drug”) from the cathinone family, which also includes “bath salts”.  It is known to cause circulation problems, lethal heart palpitations and hallucinations, and has been linked to a number of overdose deaths and mass-casualty incidents in Australia and New Zealand. It is also significantly more potent than MDMA which increases the risk of overdose.

The tablets that were tested on this occasion were brown with the Mitsubishi symbol, but it would be reasonable to expect that these are not the only pills cut with n-ethylpentylone. If you choose to use ecstasy or MDMA, please be cautious – start at a very low dose, and monitor how it is affecting you before considering taking more. Ideally, stay with someone who has not taken drugs so they can seek help if you need it. If you start experiencing adverse effects seek medical attention immediately.

Deaths linked to Xanax

There has been recent media coverage of the risks associated with using Xanax (the brand name for the benzodiazepine medication, alprazolam).

Xanax linked to more than 200 deaths

Please note that these figures refer to deaths related to Xanax rather than deaths by Xanax overdose (i.e. Xanax may be one of several drugs used in a death by overdose, or may have contributed to mental health problems that led to self-harm or suicide).

  • If you are a regular user of Xanax (or any other benzodiazepine, such as Valium) please seek medical advice, particularly if you are planning to reduce or stop.
  • Suddenly stopping benzodiazepines following an period of use can result in withdrawal symptoms, which can be very dangerous and fatal.
  • Where possible, avoid mixing it with other drugs/alcohol as the effects can be dangerous and unpredictable.
  • If you are struggling with your emotional health, please be aware that Xanax use is likely to contribute to any feelings of low mood or anxiety you may be having. Seek support from your GP or mental health service, and if you feel unable to keep yourself safe please remember that you are within your rights to access emergency treatment via 999 or A&E.  You may also wish to consider speaking to the Samaritans.


Information for Cocaine and Crack users:

Over 90% of recently tested Cocaine and Crack now contain Levamisole.

What is it?
Most current commercial preparations of Levamisole are intended for veterinary use as a dewormer in cattle, pigs, and sheep. Its also used by aquarists as an effective treatment for Camallanus roundworm infestations in freshwater tropical fish.

What is the potential harm?
One of the more serious side effects of levamisole is agranulocytosis, or the depletion of the white blood cells. In particular, neutrophils appear to be affected the most.

There have also been reports of levamisole induced necrosis syndrome in which erythematous painful papules can appear almost anywhere on skin.

This adverse effect has been observed in several cocaine users in the South Gloucestershire area. It appears some people are more susceptible to it than others, but the mechanism behind this is unclear.

Why is it used?

  • Something about the chemical structure of levamisole retains the iridescent fish-scale sheen of pure cocaine, according to a chemist with ties to the cocaine trade, giving cocaine cut with levamisole the same appearance as pure cocaine.
  • Levamisole is a bulking agent for crack. The process of making crack involves “washing” cocaine and filtering out impurities and cutting agents. Levamisole slips through this process, meaning you can produce more volume of crack with less pure cocaine.
  • Levamisole passes the “bleach test,” a simple street test used to detect impurities in cocaine.
  • Levasmisole also adds a ‘speedy’ effect to cocaine – making it appear to be better quality.