Mephedrone became popular with young people in 2008/2009 due to its availability and previous legal status. Young people found the drug to be considerably easy to access and very available. At its peak, the drug could be delivered by a moped-service 24hours a day in cities like Brighton and London.
Mephedrone was sold under the guise of “plant feeder” originally and labelled as “not for human consumption.” This was to get around laws governing what can be ingested by humans.
Mephedrone is sometimes called Meow-Meow, Kat or Bubble.
Mephedrone has a similar effect to cocaine and ecstasy. The user will feel excited, more awake and more alert. In larger doses, the user can experience a state of intense euphoria where they will feel more sociable and at ease with the world.
Since mephedrone is so new, little is known about the long-term effects.
Mephedrone was originally linked to 52 deaths in 2010. However, it is now thought that only two of these deaths were a direct result of taking mephedrone. One was a 46-year-old male who repeatedly injected the drug.
Mephedrone has been recognised as a drug of addiction. Although people do not form a physical addiction, it is mentally addictive. Many users have self-reported that they do the drug in excessive amounts which increases the likelihood of suffering from negative side effects.
Mephedrone is a vasoconstrictor – this means that it narrows your veins and reduces blood flow. Some users have reported they feel chest pains and tight sensation in their chest. This could lead to eventual heart damage over time or cardiac arrest. Others report feeling pains in their arms and legs as a result of taking the drug. This is thought to be down to decreased flow of blood caused by the vasoconstrictive effects of the drug.
In the research and questionnaire carried out in Dylan Kerr’s “Designer Drugs – An overview of Harm and effects” (2012), Mephedrone was one of the most common and popular designer drugs cited. During the study people were asked to comment on the negative side effects they experienced by their use of designer drugs. More than half of the people said they encountered some feeling of discomfort associated with their heart or blood flow whilst on the drug. 80% of those who answered the survey were under the age of 35 years old (with the other 20% in the age 35 to 45-year-old category), this is a remarkably young age group to be experiencing feeling of discomfort of the heart – with the onset of cardiac morbidity being post 45 years of age.
52.5% of the people asked said they only felt the negative symptoms rarely (45% said they never experienced negative side effects) it is nevertheless a sign for concern that such a relatively young age group should be experiencing these problems at all.
With continued persistent use, users may see the onset of cardiac problems prematurely in their life – as has already been documented with nicotine, alcohol, amphetamine, and cocaine usage.
Mephedrone has been cited as being a neurotoxin, which can cause some damage to the functioning of the nervous system. Users self-report that they do have memory recall problems while on the drug and some report that they feel they are unable to concentrate well for periods following mephedrone usage. The full extent of neurotoxicity is not fully yet known due to a limited number of tests. Early tests suggest it is similar to that of amphetamines, but not as toxic as MDMA.
Mephedrone is addictive for some people, but there is no physical addiction currently associated with the drug. Nonetheless, people quickly become accustomed to the feeling of stimulant drugs and can often feel exceptionally withdrawn and tired in days after the drug usage. This can cause users to re-dose to combat the feelings of exhaustion or tiredness, thus re-enforcing addiction.
It has also been indicated in recent studies that mephedrone may cause liver and kidney damage.
What’s the harm?
Since there is still a lot unknown about the harmful effects, the best advice would be not to do it at all or take it very infrequently. Like all drugs, the increase of the dose is likely to increase the negative effects.
Stimulant-type drugs can generally make people behave in a compulsive way, feeling the need to re-dose frequently. This can lead to addiction for some people, especially if they have easy access to large amounts of the drug. It is best advised that people who wish to experience the drug do not hoard large amounts of it, as there are many anecdotal experiences reported on how people have lost their ability to control their intake. Their tolerance to the drug rises within weeks, and they find themselves at a point whereby they are doing up to four times as much over the same period. This is much more likely to accelerate the harmful effects of mephedrone.
Some people seem to have less control over their ability to control their substance use than others – whether it is alcohol, cocaine, cigarettes or any other drugs that can be consumed compulsively. It is important for people who have already experienced control issues or addiction to substances to evaluate their ability to cope with drugs like mephedrone, which is already showing psychological addictive properties.
Since some of the drug deaths associated with mephedrone have been in combination with other drugs and alcohol, it should be recommended that mephedrone is not taken with other drugs, especially other stimulants. If a person exceeds more than 600mg (just more than half a gram) in two hours they are likely to suffer even more from the negative side effects.
Mephedrone treatment at Hope Rehab Center Thailand
Counselling and Therapy: You will build a healthy relationship with your counsellor and explore your life history – unearthing reasons why you use or why you can’t stop using.
Group work: Here we share our painful experiences and help each other find solutions.
CBT: Cognitive behaviour therapy – short-term therapy with long-term results – helps with positive thinking.
Addiction program: We use the evidence-based programme to unravel and look at your addictive behaviours.
Mindfulness: Sessions and practice help calm your thinking and relax the mind.
Fitness and exercise program: We get up early and go for 40 minutes exercise to help restore health and ingrain a healthy behaviour pattern. I say “get up before your addiction wakes up”.
Assignments: Hope workbook is 100 pages long – full of exercises to complete in group, with your counsellor and as homework in the evenings.
Treatment tasks: In the weekly goals group you are set new goals and paradoxical behaviours to complete and help you change life-long habits.
Activities: Weekend activities include many new sober fun things to do – this gives you a chance to practise having clean and sober fun.
Relapse Prevention: These classes raise your awareness and teach you to manage triggers and cravings.
Aftercare: We begin your aftercare plan before you leave Rehab.