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Mephedrone facts

What is mephedrone?

Effects of mephedrone

Tolerance and dependence

Getting help

Mephedrone use in Australia

Please note: Mephedrone is a relatively new drug, and so far there is limited evidence of how widely it is used in Australia. Due to the lack of formal research about its use and effects, much of the information used in this page has been taken from reports from people who have used the drug, rather than scientific sources.

What is mephedrone? 

Mephedrone (4-methylmethcathinone) was originally marketed as a plant fertiliser and 'research chemical'.

It is a synthetic cathinone, similar to one of the active ingredients of the drug khat. It is structurally similar to other phenylethylamines, such as ephedrine and amphetamine.

Other names 

Meph, meow, miaow-miaow, m-cat, plant food, drone, bubbles, kitty cat.

What it looks like

Mephedrone usually comes as a white powder, crystals or capsules. It is also available in pill form. Anecdotal reports indicate that it is most commonly sold as a powder with a yellowish tinge. 

How is it used?

Mephedrone powder is usually sniffed/snorted or swallowed.

Swallowing is the most common way of taking the drug. It is usually mixed with liquid to drink, or wrapped in a cigarette paper (known as 'bombing').

There have also been some reports of people injecting the drug.

Effects of mephedrone

The effects of any drug, including mephedrone, vary from person to person. How mephedrone affects a person depends on many things including their size, weight and health, also whether the person is used to taking it and whether other drugs are taken around the same time. The effects of any drug also depend on the amount taken.

There is no safe level of drug use. Use of any drug always carries some risk—even medications can produce unwanted side effects. It is important to be careful when taking any type of drug.

Immediate effects

People who have used mephedrone describe the effects as being similar to ecstasy, and estimate that the effects last between 2 and 4 hours. Some also say that the drug can be compulsive ('more-ish') to use, and can create a state of psychological dependence. Many report that the negative effects become far more severe with heavy use.

The following effects have been reported by people who have used mephedrone:

  • an initial 'rush' followed by euphoria
  • more energy and alertness
  • talkativeness
  • loss of appetite
  • nausea, vomiting, stomach pains
  • light-headedness, dizziness
  • distorted perception of time
  • intense connection with music
  • dilated pupils
  • blurred vision
  • dry mouth/thirst
  • sweating
  • increase in heart rate, blood pressure, chest pains
  • tremors or convulsions
  • jaw clenching, teeth grinding
  • skin rashes
  • insomnia
  • memory loss
  • nose bleeds from sniffing/snorting the drug
  • anxiety
  • paranoia.


Mephedrone has been implicated in some deaths in the United Kingdom and Europe.

Coming down 

The come down effects of mephedrone have been described as similar to ecstasy and amphetamines. Some of the effects reported include:

  • insomnia
  • fatigue
  • dizziness
  • low mood
  • memory loss.

Long-term effects

It has been reported that people who use mephedrone in a paticular session find it very hard to stop. Compulsive use can lead to  side-effects including insomnia, involuntary muscle clenching and hallucinations.

Other effects of mephedrone use

Social problems 

All areas of life can be affected by drug use.

  • Disagreements and frustration over drug use can cause family arguments and affect personal relationships.
  • Legal and health problems can also add to the strain on personal, financial and work relationships.

Taking mephedrone with other drugs

The effects of using mephedrone with other drugs is unknown due to a lack of research in this area.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

Read about the effects of taking drugs during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

Driving 

It is dangerous to drive after using mephedrone. The effects of mephedrone, such as blurred vision and distorted perception of time, can affect driving ability. The symptoms of coming down can also affect the ability to drive safely.

Read more about the effects of drugs on driving.

Mephedrone use in the workplace 

Under occupational health and safety legislation, all employees have a responsibility to make sure they look after their own and their co-workers' safety. The effects of mephedrone such as drowsiness, dizziness and anxiety can affect the ability to work safely and effectively. The symptoms of coming down and withdrawal can also affect the ability to work safely and effectively.

Preventing and reducing harms

The use of mephedrone carries a risk of harm. This risk is increased when:

  • large amounts are taken
  • it is taken with other drugs, including alcohol, and prescribed and over-the-counter medications
  • it is snorted (due to the risk of damage to the lining of the nose)
  • it is injected (due to the risks of vein damage and of contracting bloodborne viruses)
  • the person who takes the drug is alone (as they may need help in a medical emergency)
  • the person who takes the drug drives or operates machinery while under its influence.

Tolerance and dependence 

Several studies have reported that mephedrone induces strong feelings of cravings in most people that use the drug. A recent study of university students in the United Kingdom found that 17% of people who had recently used mephedrone reported symptoms associated with dependence.

Getting  help

Treatment 

In Australia, there are many different types of treatments for drug problems. Some aim to help a person to stop using a drug, while others aim to reduce the risks and harm related to their drug use.
Find out more about treatment
.

What to do if you are concerned about someone's mephedrone use 

If you are concerned about someone's drug use, there is help available. Contact the alcohol and drug information service in your state or territory.

What to do in a crisis 

Always call triple zero (000) if a drug overdose is known or suspected—and remember that paramedics are not obliged to involve the police.

If someone overdoses or has an adverse reaction while using mephedrone, it is very important that they receive professional help as soon as possible. A quick response can save their life.

Visit the Better Health Channel to read St John Ambulance's advice on drug overdose.

Mephedrone use in Australia 

According to the Ecstasy and Related Drug Trends Bulletin [PDF:472KB](new window) in 2011, the availability and use of mephedrone has decreased in the past year.

Is it legal? 

Mephedrone is classified as a controlled substance and has been added to Schedule 4 of the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956. It can only be imported into Australia with a valid licence and permit.

Read more about drugs and Australian law.

For legal advice specific to your situation contact a legal aid service in your state or territory.

National drug policy

Australia's national drug policy is based on harm minimisation. Strategies to minimise harm include encouraging people to avoid using a drug through to helping people to reduce the risk of harm if they do use a drug. It aims to reduce all types of drug-related harm to both the individual and the community.

Last updated: 22 January 2013

 
Information you heard is intended as a general guide only. This audio is copyrighted by the Australian Drug Foundation. Visit www.DrugInfo.ADF.org.au for more