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    • Auckland

An off-white powder being sold as MDMA in Auckland has been found to contain Alpha-PVP.

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How to identify the drug
  • Off-white powder

This notification is to advise the potent stimulant Alpha-PVP has been detected in an off-white powder misrepresented as MDMA in the Auckland region. It is currently unknown how widely this is circulating.

Alpha-PVP has a potency much stronger than MDMA and consumption could lead to serious harm. High Alert strongly urges people not to take any unknown white powders, and drug checking is recommended to help lower the risks.

KnowYourStuffNZ, the NZ Drug Foundation and NZ Needle Exchange Programme run drug checking clinics across the country to help reduce harm - check the schedule here.

If you or someone you know takes a substance thought to be MDMA and starts to feel unusual effects, get to hospital or call 111 immediately. Be honest about your drug use, you won’t get in trouble and it could save your life.

If you have heard of any reports of this drug, please let us know! The alert ID is N23/0033. All submissions are anonymous.

How to recognise symptoms from the drug:

A sample of this substance was submitted to the drug checking service run by the New Zealand Drug Foundation for analysis. Preliminary testing indicates the presence of Alpha-PVP (or a similar substance). 

Reported effects of Alpha-PVP can include:

  • Increased energy
  • Alertness
  • Talking more than usual
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Over-stimulation
  • Tense muscles and restlessness
  • Blurred vision
  • Dry or numb mouth
  • Headaches
  • Sweating
  • Racing heart

How to reduce harm from the drug:

Alpha-PVP has a much smaller dosage rate than MDMA, with active doses less than a quarter of a common MDMA dose. At high doses adverse effects can include mania, a racing heart, and hallucinations. Alpha-PVP has been implicated in harm including deaths internationally, especially when used in combination with other substances.

The worry is that this substance may continue to be sold as MDMA. It is unknown how widespread the circulation of this powder is.

High Alert urges extreme caution at this time. Do not take any unknown white powders. You cannot be sure the substance you have is MDMA by sight or smell. Drug checking is recommended to help minimise the risk.

KnowYourStuffNZ, the New Zealand Drug Foundation and the New Zealand Needle Exchange Programme are running regular drug checking clinics across the country – you can find a calendar of upcoming events here.

If you choose to use this substance: 

  • Use a reagent test to check it first. Marquis and Mandelin reagents will turn black if there is any MDMA present in the mixture and will not change colour if there is only Alpha-PVP.
  • Lower doses are less risky – a usual dose for MDMA can have between 4 and 10 doses of Alpha-PVP in it. Start off with a small amount to check how it affects you. 
  • In general, swallowing a substance has a slower onset than other methods and means there might be more time to get medical help if needed.
  • Avoid using it at the same time as other substances, especially other stimulants.
  • Avoid using alone. Have a buddy who can help, and call an ambulance, if things go wrong.
  • Avoid taking more. Alpha-PVP can cause you to feel a very strong urge to take more and this greatly increases the risk to your health.

Call 111 and ask for an ambulance immediately if you or someone else has any of the below signs after taking this substance. Tell them what you have taken, you won’t get in trouble and it could save your life.

  • Feeling extremely agitated or anxious
  • Feeling paranoid or manic
  • A very fast beating heart
  • Tremors, convulsions, or seizures
  • Suicidal thoughts

If you have heard of any reports of this drug, please let us know through the Report unusual effects page, the alert ID is N23/033. All submissions are anonymous.

Stay safer by staying informed. Sign up to receive alerts and notifications about any dangerous drugs in NZ. Check out the alerts page to see what we've already found.

Are you concerned about your own drinking or drug taking? Reach out to the Alcohol Drug Helpline on 0800 787 797, or text 8681. You'll be able to speak with a trained counsellor who can provide you with helpful information, insight and support. They’re available 24/7, all calls are free and confidential.

You can also chat to the Alcohol Drug Helpline team online through the website, or:

  • Call the Māori Line on 0800 787 798 for advice and referral to kaupapa Māori services.
  • Call the Pasifika Line on 0800 787 799 for advice and referral to services developed for Pacific people.
  • Call the Youth Line on 0800 787 984 for advice and referral to services for young people.