The newly illegal drug, Mephedrone, is still proving very popular among young people in the UK. This is concerning as new studies indicate that Mephedrone users run the risk of developing a dependency to the drug that is comparable to cocaine or other stimulants.Mephedrone is not the first name that comes to mind when considering recreational drugs, but over the last 5 years its popularity has tripled has among young people between the ages of 16 and 24. Supporters for the drug up to now have held to the analysis that it does not have the same harmful profile as other drugs such as cocaine. However the results of two recent studies clearly suggest that a third of the people taking it are showing signs of drug dependence.
An illegal drug since April 2010
Mephedrone has only recently been made an illegal drug. Up until April 2010 when it was classified as a class B drug it was available on the high street, and used to gain what are known to users as “legal highs”. Popular with young clubbers in their late teens and early twenties, Mephedrone or “Meow Meow” or “M-Cat” as it is known on the streets, is formed from an extract of the Khat plant found in Africa. In West Africa it is chewed to receive an amphetamine like high. In the UK it is accessible in capsules, tablets or white powder and is reported to give stimulant and psychedelic effects.
Negative drug effects
The effects from the drug are very much like ecstasy. Bad effects could be paranoia, anxiety, overstimulation of the heart, sweating and chills, and effects on the nervous system, including lightheadedness and fits. This is in addition to, or instead of, the “high” effects. This new study suggests the extra danger of dependence.
Two studies suggest drug dependence
The first study took place at the Institute of Psychiatry at Kings College London and used telephone interviewing called a DSM-1V. It covered all aspects of drug use such as increased tolerance; withdrawal symptoms; increased consumption within set time periods; failed attempts to cut back or give up; giving up social, professional and recreational activities because of it; and continuing to take it despite associated health problems. When the results were analysed it was found 30% of the users interviewed met the accepted criterion for drug dependence.
A separate online survey led by Dr Winstock at the Australian Professional Society confirmed the UK findings further. The researchers found 25% of Mephedrone users scored at least three out of seven on the same dependency scale. This compared with 25% for ecstasy and 24% for cocaine.