A pressing health advisory has been declared as a response to intensely potent party drugs, some embossed with the likeness of the animated character SpongeBob SquarePants, in circulation throughout NSW.
Currently, there are three distinctive kinds of these tablets, each carrying an MDMA content that is almost double the standard dose typically discovered in ecstasy. Health officials have managed to uncover these substances.
The first two variants are blue tablets bearing unique Punisher and MYBRAND emblems, each possessing 216mg of MDMA. The last of these peculiar tablets, branded with a smiling face evocative of the popular fictional character SpongeBob SquarePants, carries a dose of 160mg of MDMA.
According to an announcement by NSW Health, other harmful substances such as cathinones, ketamine, and its manifold analogues have been identified in MDMA tablets and capsules.
Regarding this, the medical director of NSW Poisons Information Centre, Dr Darren Roberts, stated, “The MDMA concentration in every individual tablet or capsule can differ significantly, even within the same batch.”
He further implicates the grave health perils arising from MDMA use, which intensify if substantial quantities, including multiple doses, are ingested in a brief span.
In September of the previous year, an analogous warning had been circulated about another lot of ecstasy medicines, identifiable by a Gucci symbol on their surface. These capsules reportedly held up to four times the MDMA concentration customary in balmy tablets.
Dr Roberts highlighted the hostile effects caused by MDMA including serious restlessness, elevation in body temperature, convulsions or spasms, arrhythmia, and in severe cases, even death.
He emphasized those experiencing illness post-drug intake to dial a triple zero emergency call for immediate medical assistance.
Dr Roberts added, “The risks from MDMA are exacerbated in high-temperature environments, common at music festivals. Breaks from dancing, seeking shelter from the sun, and ample hydration can significantly moderate the risk of heat strokes.”
He also commended the efforts of teams of proficient peer volunteers, program participants of DanceWize NSW, and medical service providers who are often available for assistance at large-scale festivals. He further stated that other event staff are also trained to support festival-goers.
Earlier this year, a man tragically lost his life post a presumed drug overuse incident at the Transmission Music Festival in February. At the same event, over 130 people necessitated treatment for heatstroke and substance abuse.
According to a 2022 study on drug patterns in Australia, ecstasy consumption exhibited a dip compared to the previous year, slipping from 95% in 2021 to 88% in 2022.