Australians are experimenting with a powerful new mind-altering drug that is so addictive users say it provokes an almost uncontrollable urge for another hit.
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Australian drug users are ordering Ivory Wave through research chemical websites based in Europe, which disguise the drug's true identity by selling it as a "soothing bath salt".
Tests at the University of Sydney revealed the drug, called Ivory Wave, contained a potent psychoactive chemical similar to ecstasy.
Australian Federal Police told ninemsn the drug was believed to be illegal under Australia's analogue drug laws and its importation was currently being investigated.
Ivory Wave is sold in 500mg packets labelled "for novelty use only" with no dosage instructions.
An anonymous Ivory Wave user from Newcastle told ninemsn the powder was several times stronger than cocaine when snorted.
"[It] provides profound stimulation and empathy, as well as mild, yet blissful, euphoria," he said.
However, he said the initial "magic" diminished rapidly, leaving the user strongly compelled to snort again.
"I've never seen an opened packet last more than a night, and have seen the 'but your line is bigger' arguments start," he said.
The user said the intense high left a painful hangover.
"[Users experience] emotional fragility, diminished cognitive ability, muscular pain and a sore jaw and loss of appetite," he said.
The user interviewed by ninemsn said he and his friends had ordered the drug several times through post from overseas and had not encountered any problems with customs.
A small sample of the drug obtained by ninemsn and analysed by researchers at the University of Sydney was found to contain a mix of several substances, including the chemical methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV).
The legal status of MDPV is unclear but it is most likely banned under Australia's analogous drug laws due to its structural similarities to pyrovalerone and MDMA — also known as ecstasy.
The companies that market Ivory Wave also sell other "bath salt" products, which are believed to contain similar ingredients.
University of Sydney Chemistry Professor Paul Groundwater warned that users of Ivory Wave could be putting their health at serious risk.
"Drugs for approved human use must meet very stringent criteria in terms of their manufacture," he said.
"These designer drugs have not been subjected to such scrutiny and so they may contain many harmful by-products as a result of their production."
Dr Groundwater and University of Sydney Professional Officer Bruce Tattam used forensic data from German police to identify the presence of MDPV in the compound.
The tests showed the drug was a mix that contained at least one other major component, but MDPV was the only identifiable chemical.
By Henri Paget
February 5, 2010
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