Department of Health

N-ethylpentylone in cocaine

N-ethylpentylone has recently been detected in cocaine in Melbourne.

N-ethylpentylone (NEP) is a synthetic stimulant

It is often white or off-white in colour, and can appear in powder, crystalline or tablet forms. NEP may be mixed into, or mis-sold as, other stimulants such as cocaine and MDMA. It can look and smell very similar to these drugs. It is not possible to tell the difference without laboratory testing.

There have been recent hospitalisations in Victoria associated with NEP. Higher doses can lead to hallucinations/bizarre behaviour, an inability to sleep (lasting up to 72 hours), overheating, seizures, heart attack, stroke and death. People often report a severe “come-down” several days after use.

Consuming cocaine and NEP together increases the risk of stimulant overdose – learn the signs

Consuming N-ethylpentylone with other substances – especially stimulants – will increase your risk of unwanted effects. The type and severity of unwanted effects depends on the dose. Reducing the dose will reduce the risk of harm.

Signs of a combined NEP and cocaine overdose include extreme agitation, confusion, and high body temperature.

This is similar to most stimulant overdoses, although symptoms can vary between individuals and will depend on the quantity and proportions of drugs consumed.

Minimising harm

If you have any unexpected or delayed reaction to a drug, do not take more. If you experience adverse drug effects, or are present when someone has an unexpected reaction, seek help immediately by calling Triple Zero (000).

Take care as we come out of lockdown:

  • Be aware of possible COVID-related disruptions in the drug market. Other false or contaminated drug products may circulate in Victoria, even if no specific warning has been issued about them
  • Start low and go slow. Your tolerance for drugs, including alcohol, may have changed. Sip water and take breaks to cool down.
  • Make sure you’re in a safe environment with people you trust.

Remember that all drug use comes with risks. Even pure drugs can produce serious side effects and death. Get the facts at: Link .

Keep an eye out for DanceWize in Melbourne’s public parks and gardens this summer, or at music festivals and events across Victoria. DanceWize is an anonymous, confidential service run by peers. Follow at Link or email

If you or someone you know needs help with alcohol or drug use, call DirectLine on 1800 888 236 or visit Link for information and support to access treatment.

Reviewed 07 September 2022


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