This bulletin examines trends in the national and jurisdictional use of capsules with unknown contents (e.g. lifetime and recent use), alongside trends in patterns of use (amounts being used, frequency of use, route of administration) and sociodemographic profile of people who use capsules with unknown contents among a sample who regularly use ecstasy and other illicit stimulants.

Key findings:

  • One in five participants (18%) in the 2018 EDRS reported recent (i.e., past six month) use of capsules contents unknown, an increase from lowest use reported in 2015 (7%; 10% in 2013 when monitoring first began).
  • An increase in use of capsules contents unknown was recorded in most jurisdictions from 2013 to 2018. In 2018, 36% of the Tasmanian sample reporting recent use of capsules contents unknown, compared to 12% in the New South Wales and Queensland samples.
  • In 2018, people who had used capsules contents unknown did so infrequently (median 2 days in past six months) and most (62%) reported using one capsule in a typical session.
  • Without objective data on content, all drug consumption can essentially be considered use of an unknown substance. Whilst there are indications that people may modify their behaviour to reduce risk of harm (e.g., reduced quantity and frequency of capsules compared to where sold as a particular drug such as ecstasy), this trend raises concern regarding risk of harm.
  • Future data collection will evaluate broader use of substances without communication of likely contents when sold, and adverse health events associated with use.  



Georgia Kelly, Amy Peacock and Raimondo Bruno
Date Commenced
04 Apr 2019
Resource Type
Drug Trends Bulletins