- 1 Also known as
- 2 Classification
- 3 Overview
- 4 What does it look like?
- 5 Prevalence
- 6 Street price
- 7 Why take it?
- 8 What are the different forms?
- 9 How long do its effects last?
- 10 Pharmacology
- 11 Mode of use
- 12 Signs of usage
- 13 Effects
- 14 Risks
- 15 Purity
- 16 Addiction
- 17 Withdrawal
- 18 Legality
- 19 Mixing with other drugs
- 20 Harm reduction
- 21 History
- 22 References
Also known as
White magic, miaow, meph, meow meow, MC, m-smack, m-cat, drone, charge, bubble, bounce, 4-MMC, meow, plant food, bubbles, kitty cat, bath salts
Mephedrone is a powerful stimulant and is part of a group of drugs that are closely related to the amphetamines, like speed and Ecstasy. There isn't much evidence about mephedrone and it's long-term effects as it's quite a new drug but because it is similar to speed and ecstasy the long-term effects may well be similar. There have reports of people hospitalised due to the short-term effects.
Also, you can never be entirely sure that what you're buying is actually mephedrone and not something else.
The main effects and risks of mephedrone include -
- Euphoria, alertness and feelings of affection towards the people around you.
- Feelings of anxiety and paranoia.
- Mephedrone, or meow meow, can also overstimulate your heart and circulation; and can overstimulate your nervous system, with risk of fits .
There have been reports that more people are injecting mephedrone. Injecting any drug, or sharing injecting equipment, runs the risk of the person injecting catching or spreading a virus such as hepatitis C or HIV. There is also the risk that veins may be damaged and that an abscess or a blood clot will develop, leading to further damage, such as gangrene .
Mephedrone is often described as a mix between amphetamines, ecstasy and cocaine. The effects of mephedrone last for about an hour, but this can vary.
- It can make you feel alert, confident, talkative and euphoric - and some people will temporarily feel strong affection to those around them.
- Mephedrone can make users feel sick, paranoid and anxious, and it can cause vomiting and headaches.
- It risks overstimulating and damaging your heart and your circulation.
- It also risks overstimulating your nervous system, which may cause hallucinations, feelings of agitation and even fits.
- It can reduce your appetite, so you don't feel hungry .
What does it look like?
Mephedrone can be found as a fine white, off-white or a yellowish powder. It was originally sold over the internet as a 'legal' alternative to drugs like speed, ecstasy and cocaine.
But to get around the law, dealers said that the mephedrone they were selling was plant food or a bath salt and not for human consumption .
According to Home Office statistics, mephedrone use fell in 2015/16, driven largely by a fall among young adults aged 16 to 24. The fall for 16 to 59 year olds was from 0.5% to 0.3% (around 73,000 fewer people than the previous year). This was largely accounted for by a fall from 1.9% to 0.9% among 16 to 24 year olds - 60,000 fewer people than in the 2014/15 survey.
Mephedrone use among 16 to 59 year olds has been falling steadily since questions were first asked about it in the 2010/11 survey .
According to the DrugScope street drug trends survey of 2014 mephedrone sold for an average of £19/gram .
Why take it?
Sought after effects
Effects have been noted as similar to cocaine and MDMA
- feelings of happiness,
- sociable .
- 'comedown' (usually depressed and tired feeling) as effects wear off,
- anxiety .
What are the different forms?
Mephedrone comes in different forms, including -
How long do its effects last?
Onset of effects
- oral - 15 - 45 minutes   .
- nasal - 15 - 45 minutes , 15 minutes , 5 - 10 minutes .
Duration of effects
- 2 - 3 hours , around 2 hours .
- oral - 120 - 180 minutes , 2 - 5 hours , 3 - 5 hours .
- nasal - 1 - 2 hours  , 30 - 60 minutes .
- intravenous - 1 hour .
- rectally - 1 - 2 hours .
The research on the pharmacology and toxicology of mephedrone is more limited than other commonly used drugs. This is because it wasn't studied in detail until its use jumped from around 2009. We know more about other cathinones (extracted from the khat plant) which act in a similar way to amphetamines, acting mainly on noradrenaline and dopamine systems. It is thought that mephedrone also acts on serotonin. This is what may be the reason for its similarity to MDMA.
Cathinones (including mephedrone) act by inhibiting the reuptake of various transporters, very similar to the action of MDMA. However, slight differences in its chemistry may be the reason why mephedrone cannot cross the blood brain barrier as easily which means it has a lower potency compared to MDMA .
Mode of use
Mephedrone is usually snorted like cocaine or is wrapped in paper and swallowed ('bombed' is a slang name used for this). It can also be found as capsules and pills and can be smoked. Much less often, mephedrone is injected.
Injecting mephedrone, and sharing injecting equipment including needles and syringes, runs the risk of the person injecting catching or spreading a virus, such as HIV or hepatitis C.
There is also the risk that veins may be damaged and that something nasty will develop, such as an abscess or a clot .
Mephedrone powder is usually sniffed/snorted or swallowed .
Swallowing is the most common way of taking the drug. It is usually mixed with liquid to drink or wrapped in a cigarette paper (known as 'bombing') .
There are also reports of people injecting the drug .
Signs of usage
As with other stimulants, mephedrone can cause -
- dilated pupils,
- jaw clenching,
- tooth grinding,
- fast breathing,
- manic behaviours,
- muscle spasms,
- eyelid tremor,
- discolouration of limbs,
- distinctive skin odour (a smell of ammonia and possibly a fishy smell) - for heavy users,
- nose bleeds - with nasal usage .
Regular use of mephedrone may eventually cause -
- difficulty sleeping,
- muscle spasms,
- seeing and hearing things that aren't there,
- needing to use more mephedrone to get the same effect,
- financial, work and social problems .
In the days after mephedrone use, the following may be experienced -
- restless sleep,
- low mood,
- wounds, sores taking longer to heal ,
- memory loss , .
If a large amount of mephedrone is consumed, it could cause an overdose. If any of the following effects are experienced, an ambulance should be called immediately by dialling 999.
- limbs tingling and turning blue (due to narrowing of the blood vessels)
- respiratory failure ,
- death , .
Taking mephedrone does involve risks - and the dangers and long-term effects are becoming clearer as more reports emerge. Here's what we know -
- users have reported blue or cold fingers - this is probably because mephedrone affects the heart and the circulation,
- some users have also had severe nosebleeds after snorting mephedrone,
- there were six deaths involving mephedrone reported in 2011 in England and Wales,
- overheating has been a significant cause of deaths when other amphetamine-type drugs, such as ecstasy, have been used along with mephedrone,
- injecting mephedrone is particularly dangerous. It's much easier to overdose when injecting. Research suggests that on average mephedrone is 50% pure, so it's not just the mephedrone that goes in to your bloodstream,
- injecting can also cause damage to veins and arteries, and may cause ulcers and even gangrene,
- viral hepatitis and HIV/AIDS infections can be spread by users sharing needles, syringes or other injecting equipment .
Research suggests that on average mephedrone is 50% pure, being mixed or cut with other substances, such as caffeine, monosodium glutamate (normally used as a flavour enhancer) and benzocaine (a local anaesthetic which can produce a 'numbing' effect). In some cases, the powder people buy from a dealer contains no mephedrone at all! 
Can you get addicted
The simple answer is - yes - you can get addicted to mephedrone. Reports say that mephedrone use can lead to a strong psychological dependence on the drug, and can lead to the user craving - and taking - increasing amounts.
This kind of behaviour increases all of the above risks to your health. Some users say that once they have started a mephedrone session, they find it very difficult to stop until they've used their entire supply - this is sometimes called 'fiending' .
Giving up mephedrone after using it for a long time can be challenging because the body has to get used to functioning normally without it.
Reported symptoms include -
- increased appetite,
- stuffy nose,
- feeling anxious,
- feeling depressed, emotional, tearful,
- difficulty concentrating , .
- Mephedrone is a Class B drug - so it's illegal to have for yourself, give away or sell.
- Possession is illegal and can get you up to five years in jail and/or an unlimited fine.
- Supplying someone else, even your friends, can get you fourteen years in jail and/or an unlimited fine .
What if you're caught?
If the Police catch you with mephedrone, they'll always take some action. This could include a formal caution, arrest and prosecution.
A conviction for a drug-related offence could have a serious impact. It can stop you visiting certain countries - for example the United States - and limit the types of jobs you can apply for .
Did you know?
- Like drinking and driving, driving when high is illegal - and you can still be unfit to drive the day after using mephedrone. You can get a heavy fine, be disqualified from driving or even go to prison. - Allowing other people to supply drugs in your house or any other premises is illegal. If the police catch people supplying illegal drugs in a club they can potentially prosecute the landlord, club owner or any person concerned in the management of the premises .
Mixing with other drugs
You increase the risks to yourself if you combine alcohol with mephedrone or any other drug that causes a 'high' - including increasing the risk of death .
The effects of taking mephedrone with other drugs - including over-the-counter or prescribed medications - can be unpredictable and dangerous. The following combinations could have the following effects -
- Mephedrone + ice, speed or ecstasy - increased risk of harms, including death .
- Mephedrone + alcohol + cannabis - nausea and vomiting .
- test a small sample before taking your regular dose and plan how much you are going to use before you use. In general, try to use no more than 0.5g in one night and avoid mixing with alcohol or other drugs,
- try to avoid using notes for nasal usage - they can carry viruses like Hep C!,
- you might want to consider avoiding mephedrone if you have a history of heart problems or if you are on a MAOI antidepressant,
- if you start experiencing uncomfortable symptoms, it's important that you seek medical help immediately,
- avoid driving, especially at high doses,
- the legality of mephedrone is unclear in many countries, so make sure you know the status of the substance to avoid any unwanted consequences ,
- taking it with other drugs increases the risks,
- deaths related to mephedrone usually involve large amounts of other stimulants such as cocaine, or depressants such as alcohol,
- you may overheat when taking the drug,
- mephedrone reportedly causes increases in body temperature. If you are dancing also you may overheat and become dehydrated. It is therefore a good idea to take regular breaks from dancing and drink moderate amounts of water,
- tolerance is a bad sign,
- as with most drugs, becoming tolerant to its effects is a sign that your brain chemistry is being changed by the drug, and that you are at high risk of addiction .
- try a test dose (a small dab with your finger) and wait at least an hour before re-dosing to ensure there are no bad effects,
- limit the amount you take in one session (users advise taking no more than ½ gram in 24 hours),
- if snorting, clean out your nose after each session and don't share with anyone else!
- take regular breaks if dancing and replace fluids by sipping water regularly (no more than 1 pint an hour),
- avoid mixing with other drugs especially downers such as alcohol as this can increase the strain to your heart .
Like other white powder substances, mephedrone is usually ingested in bombs or snorted like cocaine. Snorting mephedrone can be very damaging to the inside of the nose and if notes and straws are shared there is a risk of contracting blood-borne viruses like hepatitis.
Many reports of mephedrone use have involved compulsive re-dosing or 'boosting' as the user attempts to keep topped up and put off the associated 'come down' - often presented as feelings of anxiety and sleeplessness. Such patterns of compulsive use have quietened initial claims that mephedrone was a non-addictive alternative to other recreational euphoric stimulants, although its addiction potential is still not fully appreciated.
Higher doses have been shown to cause heart problems, particularly in those prone to such conditions, or younger and older people, so it's important to know your own limits, start off with small doses, and don't be tempted to redose too quickly or often. If using with friends, make sure you all keep an eye on each other in terms of how much you're using, if anyone looks unwell, etc. Ideally at least one of you should have some basic first aid knowledge and at least one should not be using anything at the time .
Mephedrone was actually first synthesised in 1929, as a safer alternative to MDMA in psychotherapy. However, its recreational use was not reported until about 2003, and subsequently around 2007 when it started being sold online. By 2010 in the UK, where its use was most prevalent of the European countries, mephedrone became controlled as a Class B drug. However, in the years following this legal change, its popularity continued to sky rocket and it is now firmly established as one of the most popular club/dance scene drugs .
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