Twenty four new psychoactive drugs were reported to the official European monitoring centre during 2009, the largest number ever reported in a single year.
All the new drugs were synthetic compounds, and included 9 cannabinoid (cannabis) like substances.
The growth in synthesised drugs, side-stepping current legal restrictions to enable fast market and internet sales of “legal highs” seems to have been the growth trend of 2009 with a reduction in MDMA in tablets sold as E’s and substitution with Piperazine mCPP like substances.
As the UK moves to legislate to cover these developments, the market will move to traditional criminal production and supply chains associated with established drug groups.
There is still no test available for any of these new drugs, making screening and detection difficult.
Mephedrone had been encountered by up to 19% (almost 1/5) of regular users of Cocaine and ecstacy, in a recent study questionare on drug use in the preceeding 6 months.
This level was lower than expected, with the media hype over ‘legal highs’, however the study was in drug users already in contact with a drug worker. It is suggested the group consists of experienced drug users with existing patterns and preferences in drug taking. The conclusion is the mephedrone is not seen as an alternative to illegal drug use by experienced users.
Reported purity levels of many drugs sold in clubs in the UK as Ecstacy and Cocaine are as low as 2% active drug.
Young users are suspected of switching to legal high drugs like Mephedrone, as they are perceived as safer, purer and better value.
Unfortunately the risks of Mephedrone are now being documented. Particularly of concern is very young users experimenting in unsafe environments such as parks, cemeteries etc, often in combination with alcohol Most are snorting (mephedrone is unpleasant to snort~ stinging) It can also be swallowed or smoked
Reported risks & side effects of Mephedrone include behaviour changes including paranoia, aggression and anxiety, some suspicions of dependency are developing with a recognisable withdrawl picture emerging.
The research backing up the professional and legal approach to these compounds is left playing catch up. There are estimated to be over 240 compounds being promoted as legal highs, with little data available on the pharmacology or even lists of the active constituents of the majority being available to health care providers and to date no simple means of detection for the majority of new compounds.
Over the last couple of months we have been asked this question repeatedly .
Initailly like many others we thought this was a mispelling of Methadone, but mephadrone is one a a group of new drugs that have hit the headlines over the last couple of months.
Mephadrone also known as ‘Meow Meow’ is a currently legal drug which gives a similar high to amphetamine & ecstacy. The drug is purchased as a white powder and is cheap and easily available to buy in the UK. The drug is also known on the streets as ‘Drone’ , ‘Bubble’ or ‘legal high’.
The UK government has been coming under increasing pressure to ban the drug. Mephadrone has been linked to several deaths including the death of a 14 year old girl in November and also to multiple hospital admissions & casualty attendances. Meow Meow has already been banned in Sweden, Finland, Norway & Israel.
Unfortunately as this is a relatively new drug we are not aware of any drug testing kitsthat will detect it. We will keep you updated as soon as a test becomes available.