Jake* became a volunteer with drug checking service Know Your Stuff after a particularly scary experience with MDPV, a synthetic cathinone that Jake believed was MDMA. Jake shared his experience, what he's learned and why he wants to ensure nobody has to go through the same thing.
"One night back in my early 20s, I was pretty drunk after a party. I ended up doing some lines that I had been told were MDMA, but I knew pretty quickly something wasn't right. I think I consumed two or three 100mg lines one after another.
I became incredibly anxious around even my closest friends and ended up locking myself in my room. I couldn't urinate, which led me to extreme discomfort, and ended up going to A&E where I had an even worse experience being told by the doctor that's what I get for doing drugs.
I didn't sleep for 5 nights and was hallucinating talking to people who I knew weren't there. My memory was terrible and I couldn't remember even basic things, and at one point I believed I wouldn't recover and had thrown my life away. I fell into a state of depression and became suicidal.
It was only later I learned that what I took was synthetic cathinone MDPV rather than MDMA, and that the dosage rate was 5-10mg, which explained the symptoms from my overdose.
I made the call to move home for my mental health, and my family was really loving and compassionate, helping nurture me back to health over the coming weeks. Thankfully I made a full recovery.
When I found out about drug checking organisation Know Your Stuff NZ a few years later, I got in touch and said I was keen to volunteer and try help others avoid what I went through.
I'm in my thirties now and have a successful career, loving relationship and have used a lot more caution with drugs ever since that event. I encourage everyone to get their drugs checked with a service like Know Your Stuff, especially given how many dodgy drugs are out there at the moment.
I get enormous joy volunteering for the organisation and seeing how grateful people are for the service and knowledge we pass on while treating them with compassion and understanding. Even one person saved from what I went through makes it all worth it!
Drugs can be great, even life-changing, when people have confidence in what they are, what dosage to take and in what settings to consume them in. From experience, they can also be a sure ride to hell when these steps aren't followed correctly.
The fact is people have and always will consume mind-altering substances, regardless of legality. The best thing we can do as a society is make it easy and accessible for people to test substances and learn about the safety and harms in a compassionate setting."
*not his real name
Our thoughts are will all those affected by recent flooding in Tāmaki Makaurau. Here are some suggestions of things to consider to keep safe and well if you're planning on using drugs.
Like the chocolate chips in a cookie, your drug might not be evenly distributed throughout your pill or baggie.