Mephedrone is a recreational drug that is chemically similar to amphetamines.
Mephedrone (4-methylmethcathinone) is relatively new to the recreational drug using scene. It is a stimulant drug that is chemically similar to amphetamines and produces effects like those of ecstasy, cocaine and amphetamines.
Mephedrone is usually a white, off-white, or yellowy powder, pill or capsule. The power is commonly snorted or bombed (swallowed wrapped in paper) and the pills and capsules are swallowed or ground up and snorted.
Mephedrone is one of a group of drugs that are derived from cathinone, the active ingredient found in the drug khat. Other cathinone derivatives are methedrone and methylone which both produce similar effects to mephedrone. Because of the similarity in names, it is sometimes confused with 'Methedrone' (4-methoxymethcathinone) or 'Methylone' (bk-MDMA).
4-MMC, Meow, meow-meow, m-cat, plant food, drone, kitty cat.
As mephedrone in such a new drug there is little research based information about its effects. People who have used mephedrone report that it is similar to taking ecstasy, cocaine, or amphetamines. The effects are said to last between 2 – 4 hours.
Mephedrone has only recently emerged as drug for recreational use, so little is known about its long term effects due to a lack of research in this area.
There is limited research on the mephedrone and the risk of dependence, addiction and overdose. A small number of studies have reported that people who use mephedrone often experience strong cravings and the desire to re-dose during drug using sessions.
A study in the United Kingdom reported that 17% of people who have recently used mephedrone experienced symptoms of dependence.
There have been several deaths in the United Kingdom and Europe where Mephedrone has been implicated, however it is not clear whether the cause of these deaths can be conclusively attributed to the use of the drug.
As a derivative of cathinone, mephedrone is illegal in New Zealand, scheduled as a Class B1 drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975. The penalty for importing, manufacturing or supplying mephedrone is a maximum of 14 years imprisonment. Possession of mephedrone could incur three months jail and a fine up to $500.
As a relatively new drug, there is little data on rates of mephedrone use in New Zealand. It is most commonly found to be an ingredient in tablets being sold as ecstasy.
A survey of frequent drug users reported that 25 per cent had heard about mephedrone as new drug in 2010, though very few of them had actually used it.
The Drug Foundation’s message is clear: no drug use is the safest drug use. However, we know there will be occasions when people ignore warnings and use drugs in a dangerous manner. To help keep communities safe we therefore provide information about proven methods of drug harm reduction.
Mephedrone is often found in tablets sold as ecstasy, and the advice for reducing the harm from ecstasy use should also apply to mephedrone. See our reducing the harm from ecstasy page.
There are a number of treatment organizations that can help. If you feel that you or anyone you know needs help, then you can call these services in strict confidence.
If you are faced with an emergency, call 111 immediately.
Talk to someone about your or someone else’s drug use, call the Alcohol Drug Helpline – 0800 787 797.
You can also get contact details for your local alcohol and other drug counselor or treatment provider by calling the helpline or by visiting www.addictionshelp.org.nz.