Mephedrone Addiction Explained
What Is Mephedrone?
Mephedrone is a stimulant that belongs to the family of drugs known as cathinones. Cathinones are closely related to amphetamines, which include drugs like ecstasy and speed. Mephedrone is a synthetic psychoactive substance.
Mephedrone was designed to be a cheap alternative to drugs such as ecstasy, cocaine and speed, albeit with the same effects. It was initially sold as plant food and bath salts, which made it a legal high.
Mephedrone is a white substance that is usually sold as a powder or crystals. It is also found in the form of pills or capsules. Mephedrone has a distinct odour which has been likened to electric circuit boards, bleach and cat urine, hence the alternative name M-CAT.
Mephedrone became a popular party in the UK in 2010 and is one of the most abused drugs in the country.
Synonyms for Mephedrone
The two chemicals that have pronounced similarities to mephedrone or M-CAT are 4-MEC and mephedrone hydrochloride. While 4-MEC tends to be injected intravenously, mephedrone hydrochloride is usually snorted, mixed with alcohol or taken intravenously.
The type of mephedrone used by an individual largely depends on the form they purchased and their region. For example, 4-MEC is more common in New Zealand than many other places due to the drug being sold as a fake alternative to ecstasy pills there.
Also known as 4-MEC, this substance is very chemically similar to mephedrone. It is believed to be a stimulant that belongs to the amphetamine, cathinone and phenethylamine class of drugs. Individuals who use it as a recreational drug usually inject it intravenously.
Injecting it is rough on veins and can be followed by a burning sensation. Intravenous doses of 4-MEC are not significantly more dangerous than oral ones.In fake ecstasy pills, 4-MEC is known to be the active ingredient.
Mephedrone Slang Names
- White Magic
- Meow Meow
Routes of Mephedrone Administration
There are various ways of taking mephedrone. The route of administration heavily influences the intensity of intoxication and, consequently, the risk of overdose. Some means of taking mephedrone, such as snorting and injection, are likelier to cause overdose than others.
Some forms of taking mephedrone are riskier than others. For example, taking the substance orally makes it possible for an individual to realise when they have taken too much through the gradual escalation of symptoms. Intravenous injection, however, makes that difficult as a loss of consciousness could follow shortly after an overdose.
When taking mephedrone orally, through insufflation and through intravenous injection, users tend to binge on it, resulting in a rapid increase in tolerance. This ultimately leads to the development of addiction and substance dependence.
This is the most route of administration for mephedrone. Users start feeling the effects of the substance within 15 to 30 minutes and they can last six hours or longer, depending on whether additional doses are taken.
Overdosing on mephedrone after taking it orally is fairly rare for the first few pills. As users continuing taking more pills and binging on it, however, the risk gets higher.
Insufflation refers to the snorting of mephedrone. It is associated with nasal irritation and pain, which causes some users to favour taking the drug orally instead. Some users report experiencing heightened sexual arousal after snorting mephedrone.
This route of administration leads to the drug being fast-acting, with users feeling the effects in under a minute.
This route of administration involves injecting mephedrone into the bloodstream. Compared to insufflation and ingestion, it is a fairly rare method of taking mephedrone.
Injecting mephedrone leads to users experiencing the effects of the drug quickly. However, there are some significant health risks associated with this route of administration. It can lead to infections, blood clots and damage to veins.
Additionally, overdosing on mephedrone after taking it intravenously hardly gives the user time to respond, as they may lose consciousness in a matter of minutes. If too much is injected, they may fall into a coma and, without medical attention, lose their life.
Rectal administration of mephedrone results in the effects of mephedrone being felt very quickly and intensely. Taking mephedrone rectally carries a significant risk of overdose. This route of administration is commonly used by addicted users who may be seeking to counteract the diminishing intensity of intoxication due to the buildup of tolerance.
Smoking mephedrone results in the effect of the substance being felt almost instantly. While smoking it can be highly addictive, it’s slightly less addictive than more invasive means such as intravenous injection.
When smoked, mephedrone tends to be relatively short-lasting, with effects starting to subside after 45 minutes to an hour. This usually prompts users to take more of the drug.
Analysing Mephedrone Chemistry
Mephedrone derives its cathinone properties from its similarity to the khat shrub, which is chewed widely in Africa for its stimulant effects. These properties permit mephedrone to allow higher-than-normal amounts of dopamine to be released, resulting in feelings of calm and relaxation.
When mixed with alcohol, the psychostimulant effects of mephedrone are highly pronounced. This can lead to heart palpitations as well as blue or cold extremities.
Chemical Formula C11H15NO
Because of its chemical formula, which contains 11 molecules of carbon, mephedrone is a monoamine releasing agent. This means that it facilitates the release of dopamine in the brain in amounts that result in the pleasurable effects for which it is taken.
The pharmacology of mephedrone also makes it able to cross the blood-brain barrier. This causes it to induce delirium if taken in high dosages.
Despite the chemical formula of mephedrone being very close to that of MDMA, they differ in a few key ways. For example, mephedrone has more hydrogen, which results in it being a fast-acting substance in comparison to MDMA. However, because of that same factor, its effects tend not to last as long.
Drug Class — Class B
Mephedrone was criminalised in the UK in 2010 under an amendment to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, as well as under the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016. This puts mephedrone in the same class of drugs as cannabis, ketamine and speed. Before that, it was a legal high that could be bought in head shops and on the Internet.
Being found in possession of mephedrone can carry legal consequences that range from a caution to imprisonment, depending on the amount and other factors. Due to mephedrone being classified as a Class B drug, it can no longer be bought in head shops. However, this has driven the trade underground and it can still be purchased online, particularly on the dark web.Mephedrone bought online has a high chance of being impure, which makes it highly dangerous as it may be laced with harmful substances
What’s the Difference Between MDMA (Ecstasy) and Mephedrone?
In contrast to a commonly held belief, the British Journal of Pharmacology found that mephedrone can be a more addictive substance than MDMA. The two drugs produce different changes in the brain, making the effects they produce, especially when taken with other drugs, very different.
Mephedrone acts more quickly than MDMA in inducing effects. While a mephedrone dose lasts an hour, leading to users binging on the substance, an MDMA high typically lasts three to six hours. This typically leads to the side effects of mephedrone being much more pronounced.
While MDMA tends to have an uncomfortable comedown that can last up to two days, a mephedrone comedown is comparatively less intense and isn’t associated with the same negative feelings. This has made it a favoured drug among university students who may want to party and resume their studies without the disturbance of a comedown, making it more prone to abuse and, ultimately, addiction.
What Are the Risks of Mephedrone Use?
The most immediate-term risk of mephedrone use is overdose, which can induce a coma or, in some cases, lead to death. Even if an individual manages to use mephedrone without overdoing for an extended period of time, their liver and heart face high chances of damage.
Injecting mephedrone carries its own unique hazards. One of these is that it can lead to blood clots, gangrene and infections.
Using mephedrone can result in addiction, which can lead to an individual failing to meet social, professional and personal commitments. Overcoming addiction without help is made difficult by the intensely uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms users experience when they attempt to stop taking the substance.
Since 2010, using mephedrone in the UK now comes with the risk of prosecution. Possession of mephedrone can result in an individual spending up to three months in prison. Additionally, mephedrone addiction sufferers experience highly uncomfortable cravings when they go without the drug for too long. This can result in them engaging in possibly illegal actions that may be uncharacteristic of them in an attempt to get more of the drug.
Dangers associated with mephedrone overdose
An overdose of mephedrone can be observed by the hands turning blue and cold, tremors and delirium. A user who has overdosed on mephedrone will experience heart palpitations as well as feelings of anxiety and panic.
A mephedrone overdose can induce a coma and, in some cases, lead to death. One of the dangers associated with mephedrone overdose is that it can be difficult to treat, particularly when the substance an individual took was impure and laced with other substances that medical staff may not be able to quickly ascertain.
Unknown Dangers of Mephedrone Abuse
An unknown danger of mephedrone abuse is that it is difficult to predict the effects an amount is going to have. This raises the chances of individuals of taking potentially fatal doses or doses that may lead to the rapid formation of an addiction.
A general misconception many individuals have about mephedrone is that it is a less dangerous drug than other substances such as cocaine and ecstasy. Mephedrone was designed to be a cheap alternative to those drugs, and there are deaths that have been directly linked to overdosing on it.
Furthermore, mephedrone is not substantially less addictive than other drugs that are widely accepted as dangerous. In fact, mephedrone can be even more addictive, especially when it is taken intravenously. The fact that the common way of taking mephedrone is through binges makes it easy for the tolerance of users to rapidly increase, in turn causing addiction and dependence.
Physical and Behavioural Signs Someone is Using Mephedrone
Physical and physiological signs
- Feeling on edge
- Heart palpitations
- Feeling very hot
- An urgent need to defecate
- Grinding teeth (gurn)
- High amounts of sweat despite a lack of physical activity and/or high temperatures
- Full of energy
- Eagerness to dance
- Unusual levels of affection
How Long Does a Mephedrone Dose Last?
How long a mephedrone dose lasts is largely dependent on the amount that is taken, as well as the method of intake. When a 125-milligram dose is taken orally, users can feel the effects within 15 to 30 minutes, and they can last for up to six hours.
Most users who take mephedrone takes multiple doses within a single session of use, with uses being an average of three hours apart.
Snorting mephedrone causes a user to feel the effects much sooner and with greater intensity. The effects tend to last a short time, causing users to take successive doses with very little time between them.
A mephedrone dose may also last longer when taken with other substances such as alcohol. However, this leads to a user having a distorted idea of how much they are taking, significantly heightening the chances of an overdose.
How long a dose of mephedrone lasts will decrease as a user’s tolerance increases, which typically causes them to respond by taking more of the drug.
Why Is Mephedrone So Addictive?
Mephedrone is addictive because of its psychoactive and stimulant properties. These result in increased amounts of dopamine being released by the brain, leading to feelings of excitement and euphoria. After the first few uses, however, these feelings gradually decline in intensity.
Individuals may feel the need to take more and more of the substance so as to retain the intensity of the intoxicating effects. This often leads to substance dependence as their bodies grow accustomed to the drug being in the system.
Individuals who suffer from anxiety and depression face a high risk of mephedrone addiction. This is because they may be prone to feeling that the drug is an effective way to cope with their negative feelings.
Because the effects of mephedrone last a short time unless high — and potentially deadly — amounts are taken, the most common way to take it is for users to binge on the substance. This encourages taking high amounts of the drug over a short period of time, which heavily contributes to addiction.
Risks of Mephedrone Use and Abuse
- Feeling sick, paranoid and anxious
- Vomiting and headaches
- Overstimulating and damaging the heart and circulation
- Overstimulating the nervous system, which may cause hallucinations, feelings of agitation and even fits
- Palpitations, insomnia, loss of short-term memory, vertigo, grinding of teeth, sweating and uncomfortable changes in body temperature
- Blue or cold fingers — this is likely due to the fact that mephedrone affects the heart and circulation
- Severe nosebleeds have been reported after snorting
Purity and Dangers of Injecting Mephedrone
Two studies conducted in the UK in 2010 found that mephedrone bought on the Internet often has few impurities. In the same year, four products that were bought from Irish headshops contained between 14% and 82% mephedrone, with some of them containing caffeine and benzocaine.
The purity of mephedrone is hard to determine, making the risk of overdose or adverse reactions high, particularly when it is injected. Since mephedrone is no longer legal, this risk has increased significantly.
Since it was made illegal in 2010, the risk of users taking impure mephedrone has increased significantly. This is because the trade has been driven underground and the only way for most users to access it is through online merchants on the dark web.
Another danger of injecting mephedrone is that it can contribute to gangrene, damage to veins, abscesses and infections such as Hepatitis C and HIV.
Long-Term Effects of Mephedrone Abuse
- Paranoia or anxiety
- Impotence in males
- Damage to veins and arteries
- Blood clots
How Mephedrone Affects the Human Nervous System
In addition to overstimulating the heart and circulation, mephedrone also overstimulates the human nervous system. Its effects on the nervous system are similar to a combination of ecstasy and methamphetamine. This is the reason why it results in hallucinations, agitation and even fits in rare cases.
Mephedrone’s effect on neurotransmission causes messages to be relayed quickly between the brain and the nervous system, explaining the hyperactivity it causes.
Mephedrone and Impact on Relationships
Mephedrone often has negative impacts on relationships in a variety of ways. The first way it causes this is by making individuals crave the drug. When substance dependence forms, addiction suffers may go to extreme lengths to attain mephedrone. This often includes stealing from loved ones and lying to them that they need the money for urgent purposes.
Mephedrone addiction can be particularly taxing when it comes to romantic partnerships. Users typically tend to get irritable and easily agitated, which can make it difficult for those around them to be in their presence.
Another effect of mephedrone abuse that can have a negative impact on relationships is the hyperactivity and distractibility it causes, which makes communicating with them difficult. Mephedrone users tend to keep the fact they are suffering from substance dependence a secret from those around them, which can also strain relationships.
What to Look Out for If You Think Someone Is Using Mephedrone
- Appearing overly content or happy (a sign of euphoria)
- Being overly affectionate
- Being overly concerned with the feelings of others
- Dilated pupils
- Speaking very rapidly or appearing to have rapid thoughts, as a result of the stimulant effects of the drug
- Increased energy levels, hyperactive or jittery
- Clenching teeth
- Inability to focus on one topic or subject
- Highly distractible
- Trouble breathing
- Shaking or vibrating vision
- Becoming overheated rather easily
- Significant reduction in appetite
- Periods where the person cannot sleep followed by periods of extreme lethargy
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat and high blood pressure, which can lead to a stroke or heart attack
- Headaches due to overheating, hyperactivity and distractibility
Getting a Loved One to Accept Help
Individuals addicted to mephedrone may try to hide their addiction from those around them, especially during the initial stages of their usage. As their addiction gets increasingly severe, the signs become harder to hide.
Once the loved ones of an addiction sufferer have begun to notice the signs of addiction, it is advisable for them to approach the individual respectfully and in a non-confrontational manner. Making it clear to a loved one that their addiction is having negative impacts on their life and the lives of those around them can motivate them to seek help.
A confrontational approach is usually ineffective when it comes to convincing mephedrone addiction sufferers to accept help. Instead, one that communicates to them that they are not being judged and are being offered a way to live a healthy life tends to work well.
The Facts About Mephedrone Abuse
Many individuals who take mephedrone take it under the belief that it is a safer substance than other drugs such as ecstasy and cocaine. The truth, however, is that mephedrone can be just as dangerous, especially considering that most users are unaware of what dosages may lead to overdose. The fact that the purity of mephedrone is not always easy to assure also makes it a risky substance to take.
Additionally, mephedrone has a risk of overdose because most common methods of taking it involve taking multiple doses with a very short time between them. This often leads to a rapid increase in tolerance. Despite most people intending to take mephedrone only as a party drug, its high potential for addiction typically leads to substance dependence.
Another common misconception about mephedrone is that it is not an addictive substance. On the contrary, mephedrone can be highly addictive and, depending on the route of intake, a few uses can cause an individual to develop cravings. Fighting the cravings is not only difficult but highly dangerous, as it often leads to unpredictable withdrawal symptoms that can be deadly if untreated.
Mephedrone Addiction Withdrawal Symptoms
Physical mephedrone withdrawal symptoms typically include heart palpitations, excessive sweating and nausea. In severe cases, they can also include other symptoms such as anxiety, paranoia and tremors.
When it comes to the physical effects, the organ of the body that is most affected is the heart, with the possibility of severe damage if an individual has been using mephedrone for a long time. Mephedrone withdrawal is also known to trigger hallucinations and serious panic attacks.
Mephedrone withdrawal symptoms are unpredictable. During the first few days of medical detoxification, medical personnel routinely attend to an individual because the severity of withdrawal is volatile. Medical rehab staff often need to adjust treatment and the medications they give an individual depending on how their withdrawal symptoms change.
Mephedrone (MCAT) Abuse and Addiction Treatment
Mephedrone abuse is typically associated with initial uses as a party drug, which can escalate to addiction over time. The risk of addiction is heightened by factors such as alcoholism, the use of other substances and mental disorders such as anxiety and depression.
Treatment for mephedrone addiction typically consists of medical detoxification, which is followed by various forms of therapy. The medications used vastly depend on the length of time the individual has been addicted to mephedrone and the amount their body had grown used to.
Various forms of therapy are used during mephedrone treatment. These include different forms of individual and group therapy. They are mostly meant to help a former user to develop healthy coping mechanisms that help them to avoid relapse.
Some types of therapy, such as family therapy, can equip an individual’s family to provide the support required to make the recovery journey permanent and less taxing.
Medications That May Help Your Mephedrone Addiction Recovery Efforts
Because of the withdrawal symptoms that are likely to arise when an individual is withdrawing from mephedrone, some medication may be needed to help them manage this. The exact medications used depend on the symptoms an individual is experiencing, which in turn depend on the severity of their withdrawal.
Hallucinations can be managed with the help of antipsychotic medication. Most individuals withdrawing from mephedrone would benefit from benzodiazepines as well as antidepressant medication. Other medications may be used to manage specific issues. Benzodiazepines effectively address the potential development of seizures.
The medications medical staff will administer to an individual are largely dependent on the withdrawal symptoms they will be experiencing at the time. If an individual suffers from both a mephedrone addiction and addiction to another substance or alcoholism, more medications may be needed.
There are different types of treatment facilities that can offer help to individuals suffering from mephedrone addiction. The type that is most suitable to an individual depends on the severity of their addiction as well as their exact circumstances.
The most effective type of treatment is residential rehab. There are different types of residential rehab treatment, which include executive rehab centres for individuals who want to work while receiving treatment. Residential rehab offers a break from the distractions that may make it difficult to recover from an addiction.
Outpatient rehab treatment services are ideal for those who may want to attend to other commitments outside of rehab. However, it is generally not recommended for individuals who have severe addictions as well as those who may not have strong support structures at home.
There are other forms that mephedrone addiction sufferers can consider, depending on the severity of their addiction. These include intensive outpatient programs and partial hospitalisation programs.
Residential treatment facilities are those in which an individual stays for the entire duration of their treatment. They are the most effective option for treating severe addictions. Residential treatment services offer around-the-clock psychological and emotional support.
Receiving treatment in a residential facility entails a disruption to an individual’s normal routine.
Outpatient rehab involves an individual attending treatment during the day and returning to their home afterward. It is generally not a recommended option for individuals suffering from severe addictions or those who might face factors that encourage them to take mephedrone at their homes.
On a weekly basis, individuals attending outpatient rehab typically spend 12 to 20 hours receiving treatment.
Outpatient rehab allows individuals to meet obligations they may have outside of rehab. It can also be beneficial to individuals who have strong support structures at their homes.
Mephedrone Rehab Treatment Process
The mephedrone rehab treatment process typically begins with a medically assisted detoxification. This stage of treatment involves helping users to overcome their physical dependence to mephedrone. The intensity of withdrawal symptoms during detoxification differs from individual to individual, depending on how much mephedrone they took and the length of time they were taking it for.
Various forms of therapy typically follow the detoxification stage. Individual therapy and other types of it such as cognitive behavioural therapy help a recovering user to identify the negative thought patterns that might have led them to take drugs, as well as how to avoid them. Group therapy offers individuals a sense of community with people they can easily relate to.
Need Some Help with mephedrone?
Recovering from mephedrone addiction takes more than will power. The effects it has on the nervous system make it difficult to simply quit. Attempting to do so, in any case, can lead to intense withdrawal symptoms that have serious health consequences.
If mephedrone addiction has resulted in you failing to meet important obligations, caused the breakdown of relationships or resulted in any other negative consequences in your life, you can receive expert and professional assistance to help you return to a normal and healthy life.
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Our mephedrone addiction treatment centres are equipped to help you overcome your addiction. With medical staff to help you through your detoxification and therapists to assist you with learning how to live a drug-free life, we can provide you with the care and attention you need to return to a normal and healthy life.
Regain hope — start your recovery today
With help, it’s very possible to beat an addiction to mephedrone. This opens the door for you to live a healthy, normal and drug-free life, without the negative impacts that come with substance dependence.
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