I don’t know how much people outside “the industry” have heard about mephedrone, but by all accounts, it’s exploded in popularity over the past few months. In the last three months, there’s been at least 50 news stories reposted to Drugs-Forum on the topic, and probably quite a few more that haven’t been picked up. We’ve got reports of teens dying, 11 year olds taking the stuff and a guy ripping his balls off – all the classic examples of the media whipping up an unnecessary (and untrue) shit storm. I’ve also read lots of anecdotes about the drug’s prevalence among students, friendship groups and even dealers of illegal drugs (points for diversification!). Since my articles on JWH-018 have been reasonably popular and stimulated some interesting discussion, I felt it was about time we gave mephedrone the same treatment.
Mephedrone is not only cheap and legal, but it’s also incredibly effective. It’s a short-acting stimulant that feels something like a mixture of cocaine and ecstasy. If that wasn’t enough to explain its popularity, then the icing on the cake is the almost complete lack of a comedown the next day when used in moderation. Purities of over 99% make another great selling point when compared with similar illegal drugs.
Mephedrone is a white, crystalline powder with little to no smell. The term “Mephedrone” comes from methyl-ephedrone, describing the chemical structure. Other names for it include:
- 4-MethylMethCathinone (methcathinone is another name for ephedrone)
- MCAT (This is incorrect, but people use it anyway)
- Bubbles (seems to be a brand name for capsules containing it and methylone, another research chemical)
Effects include an initial euphoria, which tapers off to a milder stimulation. Mephedrone does seem to oil social situations rather well and get everyone talking, laughing and having a good time, especially during the initial euphoria. Several users have compared it to cocaine, but some how less jittery and “arrogant”, while others will compare it to a more rushy ecstasy (which has to be a good thing, given the current state of the MDMA market). Actually, the effects seem to depend very much on dose and your chosen route of administration.
The most common ways to get this stuff into your blood are snorting it and eating it. As you can probably imagine, eating it will give a longer, less intense experience, while doing lines of it will give a much shorter, more intense buzz and make you want to keep taking it, but we’ll get to that later. Oh, I should probably mention that snorting it feels not too dissimilar from being raped in the sinuses by a Portuguese Man o’ War, particularly for your first line.
Other reported methods of administration include shoving it up your arse, requiring less than an oral dose and peaking somewhere between an oral or insufflated dose, and intravenously injecting it, which apparently isn’t that great, having a similar effect profile to being snorted with a million times the risk.
A single oral dose would typically be between 150 mg and 300 mg, while lines can range from 50 mg to a monster 150 mg rail.
If only we knew! Unfortunately, no one knows anything for certain, so we’re forced to do a bit of guesswork. If it feels like a cross between MDMA and cocaine, then we can assume that there’s some serotonin and dopamine involvement. The apparent addictiveness of mephedrone (more on that later, srsly), along with talkativeness also points to dopamine pathways, while the similarity of some side effects compared with serotonin depletion (taking too much MDMA or abruptly discontinuing selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors [SSRIs]) points to the serotonin pathways.
I would love some more information on this, so if you ever come across anything in the future, please report back!
There are a number of misconceptions surrounding mephedrone, which we should clear up:
Legal does not mean safe
While it seems that users can take vast quantities of the stuff and still function, we don’t know what the long term effects of mephedrone use will entail. A handful of people have died from taking it too. While the number is tiny compared with alcohol, it’s still always a good thing to remember.
Purity isn’t necessarily accurate
Mephedrone bought online will certainly be purer than illegal drugs bought on the street, but claims of 99.9% purity may not be true. Since it’s not sold for human consumption (like everything legal and fun), I’m not sure an accurate purity measure is required. Also, that 0.01% could be some deadly poison. It probably won’t be, but it might!
“Plant Food” might not be mephedrone
Lots of those news stories I’ve mentioned above have listed a million different “street names” for this drug, including “Plant Food”. No one is actually calling it plant food, it’s just how it, and lots of other compounds like it, are sold. If you’ve obtained anything psychoactive packaged as plant food, make sure you know what the hell it is you’re taking!
Side effects can be many and varied, some serious and some not. Mephedrone shares a number of the typical side effects you’d expect to find with any stimulant, such as:
- Increased heart rate (tachycardia)
- Raised blood pressure (hypertension)
- Not wanting to sleep (insomnia)
- Not wanting to eat (anorexia)
- Chewing/grinding teeth (bruxism)
- Moving your eyes loads (nystagmus)
More mephedrone-specific, and so perhaps more serious side effects include
- Turning blue at the extremities & feeling cold (vasoconstriction)
- Pains in the chest, throat and nose
- Nosebleeds when snorted, especially with prolonged or frequent use
The more you use, the more the side effects become apparent and the initial pleasant effects diminish. Also, significant evidence is coming forward suggesting circulation issues are not just vasoconstriction, but something more serious – autoimmune vasculitis, where the immune system attacks your own body. This would seem to account for some of the odd and infrequent side effects, such as bruising or turning blue at the joints. Current reports suggest that this isn’t an issue of a dodgy supply for some people compared with the rest, but rather a small percentage of the population are at risk, probably because of some genetic differences. If you’ve noticed this, stop taking mephedrone! This condition will only get worse the more you consume. Add to that the usual stimulant-induced vasoconstriction, and you could find yourself with some serious problems.
Mephedrone can be addictive!
- It’s easy to have several large sessions per week because of the cheapness and lack of comedown. Several people have reported taking over 20g per month.
- It’s easy to keep taking it, especially when snorted, so a single line can turn into 5g session easily if you lack self control. There have been a few reports of people taking 5-7g over a 48 hour long single session.
- Tolerance can also develop, so more is required for the same effect.
Safe Usage Tips
Mephedrone is not 100% safe, but then again, nothing is. To make sure you’re as safe as possible, here are a few tips:
- Don’t buy it in bulk – 80% of people won’t be able to resist the charms of a massive bag of the stuff. Sure, you may save a few quid on the gram, but if your consumption sky-rockets, you’re not saving anything.
- If you do buy in bulk, limit yourself – it’s all too easy to “just have one more line”, so perhaps let your friend look after your supply for you, or if you’re going out, take a predetermined quantity out with you and stick to it.
- Don’t snort it if you think there’s any chance you will become addicted to it – this route of administration makes you want to keep on taking it much more than an oral dose, despite the snotty nose and watering eyes.
- Eat healthily before and after – your body needs a good supply of nutrients, vitamins, etc to stay healthy and replenish your neurotransmitters. Forcing yourself to eat, especially during long binges, is essential. At least munch some vitamin tablets or something.
- Take some magnesium supplements – this helps relax your muscles and stop all the jaw clenching and chewing that goes with most stimulants.
- If you’re going to snort it, blow your nose soon after to clear out any powder – drugs aren’t absorbed from your nostrils, so you want to get rid of it. I’d also suggest giving your nose a wash with either a spray bottle and some water, or by cramming some wet tissue up there with your head tilted back.