KYS Alert 301220: Cathinones 1

Drug checking by our partners KnowYourStuffNZ is revealing that this is the summer of cathinones.

More than half of the samples tested by KnowYourStuffNZ at New Year’s festivals so far have not been MDMA, but instead more dangerous stimulants from the cathinones family. The most common cathinone right now is eutylone.

Here’s some advice from KnowYourStuffNZ about this...


What does eutylone feel like?

Initially eutylone feels like MDMA - euphoria but that fades after an hour or so. You may think it is weak MDMA and be tempted to take more. Don’t.

We are hearing far too many tales of miserable experiences with eutylone. The tales are all similar with people re-dosing, being unable to sleep, and experiencing anxiety. In some cases, people have had to wait more than 48 hours before they could sleep.

What are the health risks from eutylone?

Not being able to sleep is the best outcome. Other risks include anxiety, headaches, stomach upsets, agitation, and paranoia. We know of at least two people who have needed medical help, one of whom was having seizures. The worst outcome is vomiting, convulsions, and possibly death. 

What to do if you have taken eutylone?

If you have taken it, don’t take any more. Rest, eat, and wait it out. Avoid cannabis, alcohol, and caffeine. Definitely don’t try to drive. 

If you have a racing heart, elevated temperature, extreme anxiety, numb, tingling, or cold fingers or toes, or haven’t slept for more than 24 hours, don’t wait. Seek medical help.

If you are looking after someone who has taken eutylone, help them to stay calm and remind them that they will just have to wait it out. Staying on the couch and bingeing TV might not sound like an exciting time, but it's the best thing they can do in this situation.

How to tell if you have eutylone or MDMA?

You cannot tell the difference between MDMA and eutylone based on sight or smell alone. 

We have tested eutylone in many different forms this season: white powder, brown powder, light-coloured lumps that look like Turkish Delight, brown smelly lumps that look like broken biscuit, and light blue pills with a Playboy logo. Get your stuff tested before taking it.

We have found cathinones all over the country, not just in specific regions.

KnowYourStuffNZ’s spectrometers can’t be everywhere but reagent tests may help. Most of the eutylone that we have seen has not been mixed with other substances. With the Cosmic EZTest or the Hemp Store Marquis test then cathinones will turn yellow, instead of the black that MDMA gives.

Reagent tests are also not good at telling the difference between cathinones, but the harm reduction advice is the same for all of them - best avoid them.

However, we hear that Cosmic and the Hemp Store are low on stock for their reagent test kits. If you have a spare test kit, look out for everyone else and ask around to see if anyone else needs testing.

Our recommendation

We recommend not taking eutylone.

The people who have been getting in touch with us after (or during) unpleasant experiences also recommend not taking eutylone, probably using stronger language than us.

There’s so much eutylone around right now and so little MDMA that we say that if it’s not tested, don’t take it.

If you do want to take that risk, then take only a small amount, don’t redose, don’t drink alcohol, and consider having at least one sober person with you who you can turn to for help if you need it.

Actual MDMA is pretty scarce at the moment. Maybe we can blame COVID for the lack of MDMA? Whatever the reason, just stay safe out there.


This advice has been shared from KnowYourStuffNZ - check out their website for the original article.

You can find out more about synthetic cathinones and how to stay safe through the NZ Drug Foundation.

If you have any concerns about your own drinking or drug taking, get in touch with the Alcohol Drug Helpline Call 0800 787 797, or text 8681, to speak with a trained counsellor – they’ll be able to provide you with helpful information, insight and support. They’re available 24/7, all calls are free and confidential.