Reagent test kit use amongst people who use ecstasy in Australia
Mar 18, 2022
The National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) oversees the annual Ecstasy and Related Drugs Study (EDRS) survey. Using EDRS data from 2019 to 2021, NDARC have published a research bulletin titled “Colorimetric reagent test kit use amongst a sample of people who regularly use ecstasy and/or other illegal stimulants in Australia, 2019-2021.” Colorimetric reagent test kits are sometimes referred to as home test kits or ecstasy test kits. These kits used commonly available chemicals, which change colour on contact with various drugs. Reagent test kits can identify drugs missold as MDMA - for example cathinones such as eutylone. While there are limitations to home reagent testing, in the absence of more advanced testing, these kits can provide useful harm reduction information for people who use ecstasy. This bulletin found that for each year, around one-third of the study participants reported testing the content or purity of their drugs. Many of the participants felt confident that expertise was not required in interpreting reagent test results. While this may be true, it is also known that many people are unclear on the limitations of such test kits. The limitations include reagents being fooled by samples that contain more than one drug, some reagent tests have a short shelf-life, and also reagent tests for measuring purity of samples may be inaccurate.