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Drug checking results in Washington state

Drug checking programs are a response to the increase in unregulated drug markets, particularly methamphetamine and fake pharmaceuticals, including illictly produced fentanyls with unknown and widely varying drug content. As part of the ADAI-coordinated drug checking effort in Washington, we present here various data and graphics of results of chemical analysis of samples brought in for testing at one of the drug checking sites.

Key aspects of the data and analysis


Samples are provided voluntarily and anonymously by members of the community concerned about what might be in the drug supply. They may provide a sample of the drug itself (such as a fraction of a pill) or they may offer residue in a pipe or cooker after use. Data presented here are intended to be representative of drugs not residue. There is more on relevant data details at the bottom of the page. For even more details about the data gathering and analysis process, see our Data details page. Mouseover (or tap on) the graph on the right to see the number of samples in the most recently analyzed three-month period (the outer ring).

Testing for substances

Drug checking sites use multiple testing technologies to assess each sample. The substance results presented here are currently based on confirmatory testing at an analytic chemistry laboratory. The inner ring in the gauge at right shows the number of samples with comfirmatory test results.

All samples versus samples sold as a given type

Although we present some results aggregated across all samples (in a given time period), this is not representative of the total drug supply. A common question is "What's in things sold as ______?" See the "sold as" page for how we define these expected drug categories, or see some key examples below.

Drug categories in chemical testing results

Below we present the 10 most common drug categories found by detailed chemical analysis. A given sample can have many substances identified, whether due to trace substances left behind after refinement or synthesis, to mixing before delivery to the consumer, to mixing by the consumer, or to cross-contamination in a container. We use mutually exclusive categories to simplify ranking and presentation of the most common drug types: A given substance result can be in only one drug category, but a given sample can be coded to multiple drug categories because it contains multiple distinct drugs.

Expected substances brought for testing

Community members are asked what the particular sample was sold or given to them as, that is, what they expect the drug to be before trying (or testing) it. Below we present some key categories of these expectations. For more information, see "sold as". Example include:

Key results by expected drug

For some important "sold as" categories, we present the number of samples positive for the given key substance, alone or in combination, among samples collected over the past 3 months. Mouseover (or tap on) the graphs to see:

  1. the number of samples in each category (the outer ring)
  2. the number positive for the expected drug category (the second ring in)
  3. and the number testing positive for the others substances of interest (the inner rings).

"Fentanyl pills" refers to pills sold as either fentanyls or M30 or both. For more information about these and other categories of expected drugs, explore the links below.

We present more on found drugs of interest (with further explanation of the categories) for subsets of samples reportedly sold as our key categories:

Data notes

Most of our analyses on these pages concentrate on testing samples of the drug itself before use, as testing pipes, etc., brings up issues of cross-contamination (finding what might have been in that pipe last week) and positive results for substances that appear after use (metabolites) or after exposure to heat or light (degradants). We cannot rule out all cross-contamination, however, because the container a community member uses might be used multiple times: We might still detect a substance that was in the baggy or tin earlier, but was not actually sold with the item the person wants tested.

Detailed chemical analysis is done on each sample using mass spectrometry by our testing partner at the University of North Carolina. Shipping, lab processing, and compilation of results creates a lag of at least two weeks, often longer. The gauge on the upper right of this page gives an idea of what proportion of samples submitted have undergone this testing. Drug categories identified include: