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Fears over safety of Mephedrone

Thursday, January 21st, 2010 Fears over safety of Mephedrone

The ‘legal high’ mephedrone is causing serious health problems according to experts.

Mephedrone, which has a street name of ‘bubble’ and is often referred to as ‘legal cocaine’ or 4-MMC is legal in the UK and available to buy on the internet.

There are an increasing number of young people who are receiving emergency treatment as a result of taking the drug. Common complaints include nose bleeding, heart palpitations, anxiety, memory problems, insomnia and paranoia.

There have been cases where an individual has had such a severe reaction to the drug that their hearts have stopped and they have required resuscitation.

Mephedrone, which comes in a powder, tablet, crystal or liquid form, is of concern to emergency services workers as there are no powers to control it because it is legal. It is also a cheaper alternative to ecstasy and cocaine, without the threat of prosecution.

The main Hospital in York has reported an increase in the number of people being treated with adverse symptoms linked to taking the drug. The majority of those admitted were teenagers or in their early 20s who had been out to a nightclub until the early hours.

In November, five people from Dundee had non-fatal overdoses during one weekend alone. Gareth Balmer, a drugs worker in the city, said that Dundee was “awash” with mephedrone, which locals call “bubbles”.

“It may have a cute name, but it’s very dangerous,” said Balmer.

Police in Yorkshire have warned that mephedrone can lead to long term health implications such as mental or physical damage. Last week, a teenager from East Riding in Yorkshire collapsed after taking the drug and required hospital treatment.

Chief executive of Drugscope Marin Barnes, said the increasing numbers of online merchants that are selling the drug are fuelling its popularity.

He said: “The ease with which people can buy mephedrone and the speed at which it appears to have grown is clearly a concern,”

“Mephedrone has been linked to a number of hospital admissions in recent months and it appears users can become dependent on it. Treatment services are starting to report people coming forward with physical and mental health problems linked to mephedrone use. It’s vital that drug workers have guidance on how to support them.”

Further to this, the government’s advisors on illicit substances, The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) warned home secretary Alan Johnson last month that the potential harms of ‘legal highs’ were still unknown and they may “have serious public health implications”.

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