Safer Tripping: Serotonergic Psychedelics and Drug Checking. Submission and Detection Rates, Potential Harms, and Challenges for Drug Analysis

This multinational harm-reduction study (2021) investigated the presence and proportion of serotonergic psychedelics submitted to drug checking services across the Netherlands, Spain, UK, Italy, Portugal, Belgium, Canada, and Australia. They detected a considerable amount of novel synthetic phenethylamine psychedelics, such as NBOMes with higher levels of toxicity and unpredictably prolonged effect duration, within samples sold as LSD or MDMA.


Purpose of Review: With the continuous emergence of new psychoactive substances, drug checking (DC) services are challenged by an increasingly complex drug market. Considering the resumed scientific and public interest in serotonergic psychedelics (SPs) like LSD, psilocybin, and 2C-B, we present the results of a literature search investigating the presence and proportion of SPs in DC samples.

Recent Findings: In 15 identified reports, submission and detection rates of SPs were comparably low, but increasing. Samples contained considerable amounts of adulterations or analogues, mostly novel SPs with unknown toxicological profiles and in some cases potentially life-threatening effects. The detection of SPs, however, requires advanced analysis techniques currently not available to most DC services.

Summary: Given the substantial proportion of novel SPs in DC samples and the associated risks, DC can be a valuable harm reduction and monitoring tool for SPs if analysis techniques with high sensitivity are employed.”

Authors: Tim Hirschfeld, Laura Smit-Rigter, Daan van der Gouwe, Simon Reiche, Heino Stöver & Tomislav Majić

Study details

Topics studied

Study characteristics
Meta-Analysis Bio/Neuro