Mephedrone: A little perspective?

Calls to ban the legal high mephedrone (or meow meow, mcat, etc.) have increased since the recent, tragic deaths of teenagers Nick Smith and Louis Wainwright after taking the drug.  I want to focus on the harms associated with the drug, and a bit about what we can do legally and socially to reduce those harms.

Lets get this straight, mephedrone has very real harms. Whilst we can’t fully know the cause of Nick Smith and Louis Wainwright’s deaths until the toxicology reports are released, it is likely that mephedrone had some part to play in their death, along with the alcohol they had drank. Whilst the media have previously misrepresented mephedrone’s role in some deaths*, the harms associated with mephedrone cannot be ignored. They should, however, be placed in context.

Mephedrone has been associated with relatively few deaths in the UK and worldwide, especially when compared with other drugs. The few deaths associated with mephedrone pale in comparison when compared to the 22,000 deaths a year caused as a direct result of drinking alcohol, or the 106,000 deaths a year from smoking. Whilst the sheer numbers of deaths due to these ‘culturally acceptable’ drugs should be shocking, they don’t experience the same sensationalist reporting given to mephedrone. Why? Partly because alcohol and tobacco are culturally acceptable; we’re ‘used’ to it killing people. Partly because mephedrone is new, and partly, I think, to some sort of cultural snobbery – people finding the idea of putting things up your nose distasteful.

We know very little about mephedrone, because it is so new, little research has been done on how it reacts with our bodies and what effects it might have. One thing we do know is that it can cause vasoconstriction – the narrowing of the blood vessels – which can put increased pressure on the heart. Vasoconstriction also makes you go pale, make your feet and hands cold, and is the reason many people find it difficult to get an erection on mephedrone (for info on erections and meph, go to the comments section after you have read the rest)  Vasoconstriction as a result of taking mephedrone is unlikely to kill someone on its own, however, so other contributing factors such as underlying medical problems and the effects of other drugs (such as alcohol) taken at the same time are probably significant. There might also be some effects of mephedrone that we simply don’t know about yet.

Banning mephedrone would be a backwards step, for obvious reasons; putting a popular but potentially harmful substance in the hands of unaccountable dealers can only be a bad thing. The legal high market isn’t perfect**, but at least product purity (and so dosage) is something users can rely on. Banning mephedrone would only mean that users would be putting mephedrone + crushed glass up their noses on a night out.

What we need to focus on is getting some good harm reduction information out there about mephedrone. All drug taking involves a certain amount of risk, but there are ways of reducing the risks associated with drug use. So, the safest way of using mephedrone is not to go there. Failing that, avoiding poly-drug use (which seems to be implicated in most of the cases I have read about), doing mephedrone in a safe environment and keeping an eye on how much you are using are all good ideas. It is probably preferable to ‘bomb’ – take it orally – rather than snort, as snorting can damage the nasal membranes. If you are snorting, however, make sure you don’t shart tubes, and don’t use notes. Make sure you keep warm, too, as mephedrone can make you a tad cold. If anyone else has any decent harm reduction advice, please feel free to comment.

*Like the death of Gabrielle Price, which the Daily Mail, The Sun and The Telegraph attributed to mephedrone whilst toxicology reports revealed that she died from broncho-pneumonia from an infection.

** The legal high market is far from perfect. Legal highs are often more dangerous than illicit highs and in the most part severely under-researched. Legal high manufacturers should be able to give out harm reduction information, but in the most cases are restricted in doing so by the law, as giving out such information would be somehow encouraging people to use a substance as a drug and not as a plant fertiliser or a ‘research chemical’. Still, purity and quantity is guaranteed which is a big leap from the illicit drugs market. Hopefully one day both markets will be regulated intelligently, and harm reduction information given out with each purchase.

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  1. Thanks for writing something useful and informative, big respect. I think we encountered someone on Methedrone whilst out on Street Angel patrol last night – not sure what the rest of the team would have said if I was giving out this info, but hey, I’ll remember it next time.

      • radicalrabbit
      • March 28th, 2010

      I think something that I should have put in the article is about dosage… because the mephedrone that you can get is pretty unadulterated, and other drugs you snort such as cocaine and ketamine are pretty diluted, many people will just go and do a big line of mephedrone, like they would with cocaine and find themselves completely off their tits. So, good advice for people starting to use mephedrone would be to starts off slowly doing keys and not lines!
      Tanks graham 🙂

    • radicalrabbit
    • July 29th, 2010

    An update (29/Jul/2010)
    Seemingly a lot of people have been coming to this site by searching “How to get an erection on mephedrone”.
    Mephedrone reduces the amount of blood flow to the penis, and as such, when on meph, you probably will find your cock shrinks, as well as finding it difficult to get hard. So, if you are planning on having sex with someone for the first time, it will probably make it look like you have a lot smaller cock than you do normally.
    Some people have mentioned the fact that you could cheat and wrap an elastic band around the base of you cock to keep the blood in, as a way of achieving an erection. This isnt the best idea, as when you’re on meph and you do get an erection, its pretty hard to come, so, youll probably be needing the elastic band on for well longer than it is safe. And, of course, you could simply forget that its there and in the morning find that its dropped off through lack of blood flow. If you are going to try this, make sure your partner knows what you plan on doing so they can remind you afterwards that its on there, and make sure you dont keep it on for ages. It might be the case that once you have got on an erection, you can take the elastic off and your cock stays hard. Also, make sure you are using lube and an extra strong condom, as youll probably be going at it for a long time.

    • wazzy
    • August 3rd, 2010

    m cat is the best drug in the world i take it every morning for breakfast and i fucking love it! its better than taking coke cause coke is bashed with about 20 diffrent things whereas m kat is 100% pure you get me keep sniffing you crack heads
    yours sincerly


      • radicalrabbit
      • August 4th, 2010

      its probably not 100% pure, especially now its illegal. Although, youre right, cocaine is cut with so much crap. police seizures of street cocaine show that they are about 20% pure. I dont think there are figures available about the purity of meph at the moment – hasnt been illegal long enough.

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