What is mephedrone?
Mephedrone (4-methylmethcathinone) is a stimulant and entactogen drug from the cathinone, amphetamine and phenethylamine chemical classes. In its pure form, it is a white crystalline powder, but it is also available in pill form or in capsules. It is often sold by manufacturers and vendors as plant fertilizer or bath salts, to evade medicine laws, which forbid the sale of the substance.
It only has a short history of human use and little is known about the long-term side effects.
Mephedrone was first sold in 2007 in legal highs produced by the company Neorganics. At the beginning of 2008 mephedrone was made illegal in Israel, where it was manufactured. Mephedrone became increasingly popular in the UK towards the end of 2009. With numerous online vendors popping up the consumer price went down significantly. Its huge popularity can for a large part be attributed to the state of the MDMA and cocaine market at the time, as prices had skyrocketed and quality was low. Mephedrone soon became the perfect, legal, alternative. Next to easy online ordering and next day delivery, mephedrone is usually of very high purity and uncut.
When the media found out about the new drug they responded with a flood of sensational stories reporting about the new 'lethal drug' and even reported about a user who allegedly ripped his own scrotum off. This story turned out to be false but didn't stop journalists from referring to it. With all the negative publicity, vendors saw mephedrone sales going through the roof.
The UK banned mephedrone in April 2010. This decision received much criticism as many believed the ban was rushed due to media pressure.
At the end of 2009, mephedrone was found in XTC tablets in the Netherlands, one of the world's largest XTC producing countries. The reason for this is the reduced risk (mephedrone being unregulated) for producers and the similarities in effects with MDMA.
After some media coverage in March 2010, the Dutch Ministry of Health and the Medicines Authority IGZ informed the Ministry of Justice that they consider Mephedrone as an unregistered medicine, rendering sales or possession illegal and punishable with 6 years jail time or a €45.000 fine.
In December 2010, mephedrone was banned by the European Union.
Mephedrone induces a state of euphoria, somewhat similar to MDMA. The effects of mephedrone are often described as a cross between cocaine and MDMA. The user feels energized, talkative and alert. It is very 'moreish'; during a session, many find it hard to limit their use.
An oral dose gives a duration of around 2 hours when insufflated the effects generally last about 1 hour.
Prolonged use and large doses can induce negative effects. Reports from users range from heart palpitations to paranoia and limbs turning purple and red. Other side effects include nausea, headaches, dizziness, excessive sweating, bruxism, nasal bleeds and feelings of fear. These are some of the main effects and side effects that have been reported, not all these effects will be experienced by all users.
Mephedrone can be addictive for many individuals. The short-lived high and the subsequent 'come-down' induce a strong craving for more. This is particularly the case when it is snorted. Tolerance can also develop, where more is required for the same effect.
Dosage varies depending on the route of administration. A typical oral dose (in capsule or rizzla) would be between 100 and 200 milligrams. Effects are usually felt after 15 to 45 minutes, depending on stomach content and build. When insufflated, effects are generally felt after 5 to 15 minutes.
Due to the short history of human use not much is known about the toxicity and long-term side effects of mephedrone. There is evidence coming forward suggesting circulation issues (purple limbs) are not just vasoconstriction, but something more serious – autoimmune vasculitis. This affects a rather small percentage of the population due to genetic differences. Although this is unconfirmed, those who notice bruising or turning blue of the joints should stop taking mephedrone.
Due to the lack of scientific research, it is advised not to mix mephedrone with other substances. Combining it with alcohol and stimulants can increase the risk of heart problems as mephedrone increases heart rate. Those who have a history of heart, circulatory or blood pressure problems, are advised to avoid mephedrone.