Mephedrone Addiction and Abuse

Certain types of amphetamines are used in clinical medicine for their medical value. However, there are other types of amphetamines which have no medical value and are abused simply as recreational drugs. A number of these types of amphetamines are highly addictive and one version of this substance that is gaining increasing notoriety is mephedrone.

Mephedrone (also popularly known as MCAT) is a frequently abused, addictive drug that’s fairly new on the recreational drug scene. As the drug is just beginning to gain widespread attention, very little information about its addictive potential is widely available. Even if you’re uncertain how addictive it is, it’s important to understand that without a doubt, abusing mephedrone is very dangerous.

What is Mephedrone?

Mephedrone is a synthetic psychoactive drug and stimulant that is made by combining cathinone and amphetamine drugs. The drug is not the same as methadone, which is used as medication to treat heroin addiction.

Mephedrone was initially created by chemists who were aiming to develop a cheaper alternative to ecstasy or amphetamine, which would yield the same effects. The drug is popularly abused on the club scene for recreational purposes, and many of its abusers are under the false impression that mephedrone is non-addictive.

If you use mephedrone, it is possible to experience any of the following immediate effects:

  • Euphoria
  • Excitement
  • Talkativeness
  • Stimulation
  • Increased openness
  • Restlessness
  • Increased libido

While all these effects may seem harmless, you should know that long-term abuse of mephedrone can lead to a variety of physical, mental and behavioural disorders. The best thing is to abstain from ever using mephedrone. However, if you’ve been abusing this drug and have come to notice disturbing changes in your health and behaviour, help is available. The longer you let substance abuse go on, the more danger you expose yourself and your loved ones to.

Different forms of mephedrone

Every type of synthetic cathinone, including mephedrone, is designed to simulate the chemical effects of cathinone, which is a naturally occurring stimulant that’s collected from the plant species called Catha edulis. The stimulant is the primary ingredient in khat, which is a fresh or dried preparation of leaves from the Catha edulis plant that’s native to parts of Africa and the Middle East.

Mephedrone sold on the streets is available in a variety of forms, including crystals, powder, tablets and capsules. Depending on the chemical process used to prepare it, mephedrone can have a strong odour that can be likened to that of fish, urine, bleach, vanilla or chemicals used for cleaning electronic circuit boards.

Most abusers of mephedrone abuse the drug by snorting it or by taking it orally. You can also smoke or inject it or use it via rectal intake. Bath salts are known to contain mephedrone, while other synthetic cathinones can commonly be found in certain insecticides and plant foods.

Mephedrone’s history

Researchers within the pharmaceutical industry initially created mephedrone in the 1920s while experimenting with cathinone. However, mephedrone never came to be legitimately used as medication, unlike other synthetic cathinones such as the antidepressant, buproprion, or the appetite suppressant, pyrovalerone. Thereafter, mephedrone remained mostly unknown until the early 2000s, when it began to make a comeback as an illicitly manufactured stimulant.

At present, the sale, possession or use of mephedrone is banned by government law. However, the drug is still widely made in China, from where it is exported to other countries around the world for recreational abuse.

Between 2009 and 2010, mephedrone abuse grew rapidly in the UK. At the time, the drug was being sold as a powder packed in branded packets that were labelled ‘not for human consumption’ or ‘plant food’. This helped dealers effectively circumvent the provisions of consumer standards, the Medicines Act, and the Misuse of Drugs Act.

After it was classified as a Class B drug in the UK in April 2010, mephedrone immediately went underground and its sale was taken over by street dealers. This increased the price of the drug and the purity of mephedrone illicitly sold on the streets since then is often very questionable.

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Causes of mephedrone abuse and addiction

You might use mephedrone in order to enjoy some of its psychoactive or stimulant effects, but you need to keep in mind that as with any other form of substance abuse, recreational use of mephedrone can easily lead to long-term physical and psychological issues.

Medical science still hasn’t provided definitive answers as to whether mephedrone actually leads to physical addiction or not. However, because it is a psychoactive substance, it can definitely lead to psychological addiction. This can occur rapidly, due to the fact that the enjoyable effects of mephedrone usually last for only about an hour or less. This leads to re-dosing repeatedly over a short period of time and subsequently a dependence on the drug to achieve a desired level of satisfaction. By abusing mephedrone in such a manner, psychological addiction can develop in as little as just a few days.

Abusing mephedrone is a danger to both your physical and mental health. These dangers can become apparent within a very short time of continued abuse. If you or a loved has developed a mephedrone habit, please seek help right away. The sooner mephedrone usage is stopped, the sooner you or your loved one will be out of danger.

Risks of mephedrone abuse

There might be no proof that mephedrone is physically addictive, but there are a variety of clinical assertions that the drug can cause side effects, whose severity ranges from moderate to severe. You can expect to experience the following if mephedrone is continuously abused:

  • Profuse sweating
  • Paranoia
  • Nausea
  • Heart palpitations
  • Headaches
  • Hallucinations
  • Extreme panic attacks
  • Blue or cold fingers

The greatest risk of abusing mephedrone is an accidental overdose, which can lead to more serious health complications that require immediate medical intervention.

Why is mephedrone addictive?

Around 2010, the abuse of mephedrone amongst young people was close to reaching epidemic levels. The relative newness of the drug hasn’t provided scientists enough time to determine if mephedrone can actually lead to substance dependence or not. Available evidence has already shown clearly that mephedrone abuse can lead to psychological addiction in as little as a few days. This is because of its psychoactive nature, as well as its short span, which causes an abuser to re-dose within a short timeframe in order to achieve a desired ‘high’.

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Addictive properties of mephedrone: Methods of use

Because mephedrone is created by blending amphetamine and cathinone, it’s necessary to understand what both components entail and how they contribute to developing mephedrone addiction.

Amphetamine is a stimulant that acts on your central nervous system when used. Stimulants are psychoactive drugs that enhance performance of certain physical and mental functions.

Cathinone on the other hand is a substance that is extracted from the khat plant. Cathinone can occur naturally, but mephedrone is a synthetic version of cathinone.

Mephedrone can be categorised under the entactogen class of psychoactive drugs, because it can cause enhanced emotional and social sensations similar to the effects of MDMA or ecstasy. One of the greatest dangers of abusing mephedrone is the relatively short duration of its effects. It’s ‘high’ on average can last for about an hour, which leads users to abuse it repeatedly within a short frame of time. This cycle of continuous dosing is what ultimately leads to developing a psychological dependence on the drug.

Unfortunately, mephedrone’s popularity on the drug scene is only going up, as more users abuse it to induce feelings of euphoria, as well as enjoy heightened energy and confidence. Users commonly abuse the drug by snorting it. There are also those who prefer to take it orally, smoke it or ingest it. Others even use it as a suppository.

Mephedrone abuse and addiction: Signs, effects and symptoms

The abuse of mephedrone has been linked to the development of certain physical and mental complications. These complications tend to grow worse if your abuse of mephedrone has turned into an addiction and you’re unable to quit using the drug.

If you or a loved one have been abusing mephedrone for a while, it’s important you know the symptoms of addiction related to the drug, as well as the side effects that continued usage can lead to.

Mephedrone can sometimes be found in the designer drug preparation known as ‘bath salts’. These (and similar preparations) can also contain active ingredients such as MDPV and butylone, which are substances capable of causing mind-altering effects. Aside from being consumed as an ingredient in bath salts, mephedrone can also be abused by itself as an intravenous (IV) drug. Continued abuse of the drug can trigger a variety of dangerous and unpleasant short-term side effects, and can also negatively impact your normal cognitive function, memory and mood on a permanent basis.

Signs and symptoms of mephedrone abuse

Signs and symptoms that are typically indicative of mephedrone abuse include:

  • A strong odour of cat urine (or something similar) on the drug abuser
  • High energy levels and incessant talkativeness
  • Insomnia
  • Hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating)
  • Headaches and heart palpitations
  • Vomiting
  • Blue colour and cold sensation in the fingers
  • Rapid and unexplained weight loss
  • Increasing frequency and severity of panic attacks
  • Hallucinations and increasing paranoia

Effects of mephedrone abuse

Synthetic cathinones like mephedrone affect the central nervous system in a way that closely resembles how stimulants such as methylphenidate (Ritalin), cocaine, MDMA and amphetamines operate. These substances – including mephedrone – affect the production of the neurotransmitters, norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine in your brain.

By increasing your norepinephrine levels, mephedrone will influence your body’s ‘fight-or-flight’ circuitry. Increasing serotonin levels will enhance your sense of well-being and happiness. A dopamine increase caused by mephedrone will trigger an intense feeling of euphoria by increasing activity in the parts of your brain that produce pleasurable rewards.

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Short-term mephedrone abuse effects

Possible short-term side effects of mephedrone are varied. People who use the drug in increasingly high doses or intravenously are at the most risk, as they might face complications such as chest tightness, blurred vision, heart muscle inflammation or hyponatremia (a dangerous form of fluid imbalance). Other possible short-term complications include:

  • Vomiting
  • Twitching or muscle tremors
  • Loss of normal circulation in lips
  • Lack of appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Increased heart rate or irregularity
  • Increased body temperature and blood pressure
  • Hostility or paranoia
  • Heart failure
  • Energy surges
  • Dry mouth
  • Dilated pupils
  • Anxiety

Long-Term mephedrone abuse effects

Typical stimulant drugs can cause addiction after long-term use. This is because continued use of such drugs will over time damage a brain’s dopamine production and eventually lead to a decrease in the body’s ability to create dopamine naturally. A study published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics in 2011, stated that active mephedrone abuse actually affects the body’s ability to produce serotonin, but doesn’t decrease dopamine levels. This implies that long-term abuse might not lead to substance dependence, but can lead to major depressive disorder.

Also, scientists at Australia’s University of Sydney in 2012 came to the conclusion that mephedrone abuse can in fact lead to serious long-term memory impairment, which could be permanent in some cases.

Other recorded long-term side effects of mephedrone abuse include:

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Muscle spasms
  • Hallucinations
  • Possible physical dependence

Mephedrone withdrawal

Quitting mephedrone after abusing it over a long period of time can be difficult for most addicts, due to the fact their body has to relearn how to function normally without the substance in their system.

Withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • Tiredness
  • Stuffy nose
  • Irritability
  • Increased appetite
  • Feeling depressed, emotional and tearful
  • Feeling anxious
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Cravings

To make the withdrawal period as comfortable as possible, it is recommended that you opt for a medically assisted detox. This will help manage and minimise the symptoms of withdrawal and facilitate a healthy and smoother recovery.

Mephedrone abuse: Facts and statistics

On the 16th April 2010, mephedrone was declared illegal and its importation into the UK was banned. The drug now enjoys a Class B drug status which means selling it, possessing it or giving it away is an illegal act that is punishable by law.

Dealing the drug can earn a 14-year jail term and an unlimited fine, while possession could lead to a five -ear jail term.

The price of mephedrone on the street has risen sharply since its ban. Even though the price is now roughly triple what it once was, the purity of a typical mephedrone batch is often low, as dealers combine the drug with other substances.

In-depth research has proven mephedrone is unsafe, regardless of the dosage used. A number of deaths related to the abuse of mephedrone have been recorded in both the UK and Sweden. Evidence also suggests that continued mephedrone usage can eventually lead to impotence and even more drastic health complications.

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Get clean and quit mephedrone today

Making a full recovery from mephedrone addiction is not impossible, as long as you get the right type of help. Most psychological and physical issues brought on by mephedrone abuse often heal naturally if given enough time. The important thing is to quit mephedrone today, so your body can begin recovering and you can get your life back on track.

If you’ve noticed or suspect symptoms of substance abuse with a family member, please do not delay. The longer you wait before you get help, the more damage will be done.


What kind of drug is mephedrone?

Mephedrone is a synthetic psychoactive drug and stimulant that is made by combining cathinone and amphetamine classes of drugs.

What are the effects of taking mephedrone?

Abusers of mephedrone often use the drug to experience the following effects:

  • Boost in confidence and alertness
  • Euphoria
  • Excitement
  • Increased openness
  • Heightened sex drive

Aside from these effects, abusing mephedrone can also lead to a number of physical, mental and behavioural disorders – some of which can be short or long-term.

Typically, the effects of mephedrone last for about an hour before fading. Effects are said to be similar to those experienced when combining ecstasy and cocaine.

What is the difference between mephedrone and methadone?

Their names might be similar, but mephedrone and methadone are different substances.

Methadone is a legal pharmaceutical medication and synthetic opiate used as a potent painkiller to help people going through heroin withdrawal. Mephedrone on the other hand is a recreational drug that’s abused for its effects that closely resemble those experienced when using amphetamines or ecstasy. Mephedrone has no medicinal value.

Is mephedrone the same as bath salts?

Bath salts and mephedrone are not the same. The relationship between the two substances lies in the fact that bath salts often contain mephedrone as an active ingredient.

What are the street names for mephedrone?

Commonly used street names for mephedrone include Drone, Plant food, Kitty Cat, Bubble, Meph, MCAT, M-CAT and Meow.

How common is mephedrone addiction?

Between 2009 and 2010, MEPHEDRONE abuse became increasingly widespread in the UK. A survey of Mixmag readers in 2009 indicated that Mephedrone was the fourth most popular street drug in the UK behind cocaine, cannabis and ecstasy. In 2010, as its use became more prevalent, the UK parliament classified Mephedrone as a Class B drug and its sale illegal. This led to an increase in the price of Mephedrone and even though the drug isn’t as popular as it once was on the club scene, it still has a notable presence.

Are You addicted to mephedrone?

In order to determine if you are addicted to mephedrone or any other substance, the following will be taken into consideration:

  • Increased tolerance for the substance
  • Mephedrone consumption that is more than intended
  • Inability to reduce or quit abuse of mephedrone
  • Spending increasing amounts of time abusing mephedrone or recovering from its usage
  • Avoiding other social activities you once enjoyed
  • Continued usage despite obvious negative consequences
  • Withdrawal symptoms

If you’re experiencing any or all of the above, there’s a high chances you’ve developed a mephedrone addiction.

What causes addiction?

The ‘high’ brought on from using mephedrone often doesn’t last long. This can lead to an abuser re-dosing several times within hours in order to maintain the effects of the drug. This frequent dosing and re-dosing can lead to a psychological addiction to mephedrone and in some cases, perhaps physical addiction as well.

How is mephedrone addiction treated?

After detox rids your body of toxins (from abusing mephedrone), rehabilitation follows, which consists of a variety of therapies. The rehabilitation process will restore you psychologically and help you find new ways to enjoy life healthily and cope without being plagued by substance dependence.

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