what is mephedrone

Updated 24/03/20

Mephedrone (4-methylmethcathinone) is an illegal synthetic stimulant drug of the amphetamine and cathinone classes that is widely available and relatively cheap to buy. Users report that its effects are similar to that of speed, ecstasy and cocaine.

When mephedrone first came on to the UK market in 2008, it was classed as a legal high, but due to the high number of deaths that resulted from mephedrone, the drug was reclassified as a banned substance under the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016 (1)

Mephedrone, commonly referred to as M-CAT and Meow (due to the drug having a faint odour of cat urine) was one of the UK’s most popular drugs in 2008 – 2010. Favoured, for its powerful effects and low cost, the more sinister side of the party drug soon became apparent as deaths associated with it started to rise.

Mephedrone, now a banned substance is a less popular choice for drug users. Nevertheless, some individuals still take it and due to its addictiveness have a problem with the drug. Mephedrone is an artificial substance based on the cathinone compounds found in the Khat plant.

History of Khat

Khat has been around since at least the 13th Century. When Arab scribes documented its use. Khat comes from a North African shrub, Catha edulis, which is widely cultivated in the region. The leaves and tender stems are picked fresh and then chewed for a few minutes and slowly munched or swallowed.  When taken in moderation, Khat acts much like caffeine, reducing appetite and providing a mild stimulation. Excessive use may result in overstimulation with manic behaviour, grandiose delusions or paranoia and even hallucinations.

Street names for mephedrone

  • Meow Meow
  • M-CAT
  • Drone
  • White Magic
  • Miow
  • Meph
  • M-Smack
  • MC
  • 4-MMC

How M-CAT is used

M-CAT is most commonly taken by snorting it through a straw or rolled up banknote. The off-white/yellowish powder can also be swallowed or bombed. Bombing a drug is where the user wraps the drug in a tobacco paper (or similar) and swallows it. Snorting or ‘bumping M-CAT takes effect more quickly as it immediately hits the bloodstream.

Mephedrone is also available in tablet and capsule form. Much like any powdered drug, mephedrone can also be prepared into an injectable solution and administered intravenously. While not a common route of administration, much like any powdered drug, injecting mephedrone is a real risk and is the most dangerous way to take mephedrone in relation to overdosing.

If you or someone you love are struggling with an addiction, help and treatment are available. Call Rehab Guide today and speak with one of our friendly addiction experts who can advise you of your treatment options.

Signs of mephedrone use

If you are worried that a family member or loved one may be taking mephedrone, it is important not to ignore the problem. Mephedrone is a very volatile drug, and if they are taking it frequently, they will almost certainly need professional help to stop.

Signs of mephedrone use include:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Being unusually very chatty and confident
  • Runny nose, skin sores
  • Overly affectionate
  • Excessive partying
  • Disrupted sleep cycle
  • Stay out for long periods and isolated in their bedroom
  • Evidence of drug paraphernalia or finding a white/yellowish powder in a clear plastic bag or wrap
  • Mood swings
  • Reduced appetite/weight loss
  • Changes in appearance and character
  • Being very happy, then very irritable
  • Borrowing money they cannot repay
  • Money or valuables going missing

Mephedrone tends to be used more by the younger male generation and is also commonly used to facilitate chemsex and in the gay community. If you are worried that someone you know may be using this drug, please urge them to seek professional help

mephedrone

How Long can a mephedrone Dose Last?

The time a dose lasts is largely conditional on the quantity that is taken, as well as the means of intake. When a 125-milligram dose is used orally, users can feel the impacts within 15 to 30 minutes, and they can continue for up to six hours.

Most users who take mephedrone takes recurring doses within a single session of use, with uses lasting an average of three hours apart.

Snorting mephedrone makes a user feel the impacts much earlier and with more prominent intensity. The effects tend to last a short time, prompting users to take continuous doses with very little time between them.

A dose may also last for a prolonged period when taken with other things such as alcohol. However, this leads to a user having a distorted conception of how much they are taking, significantly intensifying the chances of an overdose.

How long a dose of mephedrone lasts will diminish as a user’s toleration increases, which typically prompts them to respond by taking more of the drug.

Mephedrone effects

In 2010 mephedrone was the 4th most popular drug on the party scene. Previously a legal high and sold online as a plant food drug, the drug was very easy and cheap to obtain. The main active ingredient is a substance that naturally occurs in Khat and is a type of cathinone. Cathinones are cousins of the amphetamine family and are chemically very similar to ephedrine (a medication and stimulant) (3)

While mephedrone is less popular today on the party scene; its effects are still very much sought after on the UK’s chemsex scene. Mephedrone induces euphoria, heightens sexual arousal and increases alertness and stamina. The drug’s effects are often likened to a mix of speed, cocaine and MDMA (ecstasy).

Taking M-CAT can also make you feel:

  • Very alert
  • Confident
  • Chatty
  • Full of energy
  • Happy and euphoric
  • Sexually aroused
  • More sensitive to touch

On the flip side, some less desirable effects can be very unpleasant to experience; they include:

  • Feeling agitated
  • Increased anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Hot and sweaty
  • Heart palpitations and increased heart rate
  • More likely to take risks and make poor decisions
  • Panicky
  • Paranoid
  • Experience hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not there) 

Mephedrone is a very unpredictable drug, and mephedrone long term effects can also cause heart attack, serious long term mental health issues, organ damage, coma and death.

M-CAT

How dangerous is mephedrone?

Previously a legal high, the drug is responsible for a substantial number of deaths in the UK. In more recent years deaths have fallen, but this is only due to mephedrone becoming less popular, not less dangerous!

Products that remain available in the UK, including synthetic cannabis such as Spice and methedrone/mephedrone, were the cause of 123 deaths in 2016. Despite mephedrone being banned by the government in 2010, deaths associated with the drug continued to climb for a few years after(1)

In Scotland, deaths, where new psychoactive substances were involved, soared from only 4 being recorded in 2009 to 114 deaths in 2014. Once again, key contributors were thought to be synthetic cannabinoids and M-CAT(2)

One of the biggest issues with mephedrone is its unpredictability. Homemade laboratories continue to tweak the substance to find the perfect drug to sell. As a result, batches can vary in their effects and often contain potent concoctions of different substances that should never be combined together.

Mephedrone addiction symptoms

One of the most concerning risks of mephedrone is its addictiveness. The drug produces intense cravings for more of the drug during the mephedrone comedown period. This well known associated side effect leads many users to binge on the drug for many hours, even days.

In many cases of heavy mephedrone use, a psychological and even physical dependence has been reported. Once addicted to mephedrone, it is incredibly difficult to stop. Many people associate drug withdrawal syndrome with depressant drugs such as alcohol, opiates or benzodiazepines, but stimulants can also have a very unpleasant withdrawal period. This, coupled with overwhelming cravings for more of the drug, can keep a user in a destructive cycle that is very difficult to break.

Mephedrone withdrawal

Unfortunately, the NHS does not recognise stimulant drugs such as mephedrone as being physically addictive, whereas Rehab Guide does. We know that with heavy or frequent use of ANY drug, the brain becomes accustomed to having it. Take the drug away abruptly, and withdrawal symptoms do occur, both physically and mentally.

Stopping mephedrone when you have been taking it frequently and for a prolonged period of time will produce the following withdrawal symptoms:

  • Intense drug cravings
  • Increased appetite
  • Blocked nose
  • Constipation and diarrhoea
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Tiredness
  • Feeling anxious and panicky
  • Feeling depressed, emotional and tearful
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Brain fog
  • Difficulty concentrating (5)

Stopping mephedrone – mephedrone detox

If you or someone you love, suffer from an addiction to mephedrone, M-CAT, Miow Miow or a similar stimulant drug, help is available to help you through the detox process.

While the NHS does not offer detox for a mephedrone dependence, our private inpatient rehabs do. All of our detox clinics and rehab centres are CQC registered and run by qualified medical professionals, experienced in treating addiction.

On admitting to one of our exemplary drug detox clinics, we will ensure that you are provided with a full medical detox. We use approved pharmaceutical medications to help make detoxing more comfortable and completely achievable. We appreciate that detoxing from any drug is scary, and this can lead addicted individuals to continue in a downward spiral.

Recovery from addiction

If you are stuck in the perpetual cycle of mephedrone addiction, it can feel like there is no way out. You can feel trapped and lose all hope. Let us reassure you that recovery from addiction is possible and it starts with asking for professional help.

Rehab Guide wants to help those suffering from addiction to break free, firstly from the drug they are addicted to, then from their addiction. Our mephedrone rehabilitation programme consists of evidence-based treatments designed to heal our patients on a mental, physical, social, emotional and spiritual level. If you are someone that cannot stop using mephedrone and it costs you more than just money, rehab really is a lifesaver.

Mephedrone rehab can also be more affordable than you may think; it is certainly considered to be the most effective and intensive professional intervention available. However, if you are looking for free help for mephedrone abuse, we recommend contacting your local drug and alcohol services; this way, you can be supported in the community while you try to stop using.

For more information on how Rehab Guide can help you or a loved one to break free from Mephedrone addiction, call today on 02072052845

 

 

 

Sources and references:

  1. Office for National Statistics
  2. National Records for Scotland
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cathinone
  4. What is mephedrone https://www.talktofrank.com/drug/mephedrone#how-it-feels
  5. Mephedrone withdrawal : Winstock, A. & Marsden, J. (2010). Mephedrone: assessment of health risks and harms. Prepared for European Monitoring centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction.
  6. https://www.drugfreeworld.org/drugfacts/synthetic/bath-salts-effects.html

 

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