The Legacy of Legal Highs: Mephedrone Addiction

Mephedrone, also known as meow meow or MCAT, is a Class B drug. It was previously known as a legal high, having no specific classification under law, but was changed in 2010 after its use became extremely common among young people, and a number of deaths were linked to use of the drug, and the consecute Mephedrone Meow Meow addiction.

A Brief History of Mephedrone

Chemically, mephedrone, or 4-methyl methcathinone, is a derivative of cathinone, a compound found naturally in certain plant species. It was first made in 1929, but it did not become widely known until 2003. At that point in time, the manufacture and sale of mephedrone was legal in most countries, provided it was not sold as a drug. This led to it being sold online, and in small independent shops, as ‘plant food’, a label that led to some confusion in press reports.

By 2010, it had become very popular, particularly with teenagers, as it was readily available and, technically, not illegal to possess or sell. A survey conducted on secondary school pupils and University students in Tayside, Scotland found that 20% of these young people had taken mephedrone, with 87% of them saying that it was easy to obtain. Further media reports on the drug surfaced, and it was banned in April 2010.

The Effects of Mephedrone

Mephedrone has similar effects to amphetamines, to which it is chemically very similar. Users also describe its effects as similar to those of ecstasy, or MDMA. Reported effects include euphoria, increased mental stimulation and feelings of happiness.

The short-term side effects of the drug can include changes in body temperature (up or down), short-term memory impairment, dilated pupils, teeth grinding, heart palpitations, breathing difficulties, anxiety and hallucinations. The long-term effects are less well known as, unlike most drugs, mephedrone did not start out as a medicinal drug, and so studies into its long-term effects have been very limited. There is some evidence that it can have very serious long-term effects however, as shown by the story of Chris Hemple.

Elite Schoolboy’s Tragic Loss

Chris Hemple had attended one of the most prestigious boarding schools in the UK, Stowe School in Buckinghamshire, and he had a shining future ahead of him. Unfortunately, in 2009, at the age of twenty, he began taking mephedrone. Describing his first experience of the drug, he said, “I could hear my breathing really loud in my head. Everything flashed, and I was too high to talk. I wanted to say ‘if I don’t overdose, this is the best one I have ever done’.”

He and a friend rapidly became addicted to the drug and started dealing to fund their own use. They were spending around £300 on mephedrone every few days, selling half and taking the rest themselves. The drug was so popular at the time that they claimed they could have made a lot of money if they hadn’t used so much of it themselves.

By the following year, Chris was using mephedrone regularly, and heavily. He said that his use of the drug was causing his teeth and hair to fall out, and his skin became very fragile – splitting and bleeding very easily. After a break-up with his girlfriend and an argument with his band members, he attempted suicide by overdosing. He then found himself in intensive care suffering from heart and kidney failure. Miraculously he recovered, but some of the damage he had done was permanent. His kidneys suffered permanent damage, and he had several mental health issues as his brain could no longer produce serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for feeling happy, without medication.

Chris experienced a second bout of organ failure and intensive care in 2015, after which he began to try and rebuild his life without drugs in a hostel for recovering addicts. Sadly, the damage to his organs was too great, and he died in hospital in Kent in early 2016.

Stark Warning

When Chris Hemple began his fatal addiction to mephedrone, it was considered a legal drug, but this did not make it any less dangerous or addictive than controlled drugs. Mephedrone is now classified as a Class B drug because of the dangers it presents.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mephedrone addiction, it is important that you seek the help and support to overcome the addiction as soon as possible. Here at Addiction Helper, we have a wealth of experiencing in addiction treatment, and we can help you to find the treatment that is right for your addiction. So please, contact us today, so we can help you begin your path to recovery.

Source: Former pupil at elite British boarding school dies at age 27 after battling addiction to legal highs (


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