Mephedrone Ban Hasn’t Deterred Users in Northern Ireland

Mephedrone Ban Hasn’t Deterred Users in Northern Ireland

Mephedrone is a synthetic stimulant that produces effects similar to Ecstasy, amphetamines, and cocaine. Although the drug was outlawed in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland earlier this year, researchers from Queen’s University Belfast have found that the ban did not deter people from taking the substance.

The researchers interviewed 23 mephedrone users from May to June 2010, and only two of the users remained abstinent. Only one person was very opposed to using the drug again. The participants were aged 19 to 51, and about half were female. Of the participants, 19 were employed.

Led by Dr. Karen McElrath of Queen’s School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work, the study also found that about half of the participants preferred mepehdrone to cocaine or Ecstasy. Some experienced negative side effects such as trouble sleeping, difficult come-downs, and next-day depression, but these didn’t deter them from using the drug again.

None of the participants felt that “legal highs” were safe just because they were legal. Many people were initially interested in the substance when it was legal because it was cheaper easier to access than illegal drugs. Before the ban, only three of the participants had obtained mephedrone from “head shops,” and four purchased it online. Most people obtained the drug through friends or dealers.

Most of the participants had prior experience using Ecstasy, amphetamine, or cocaine, and all participants had used alcohol during their most recent use of mephedrone. Six people used another psychoactive substance during their most recent use of the drug. Most people used between one and two grams of the drug, but others binged, sharing more than seven or eight grams with two or three others.

Dr. McElrath said that this is one of the first studies on mephedrone use in Nothern Ireland since the drug was made illegal, and that their findings suggest that the ban did not have an impact on those who already used the drug. The researchers want to study this further, and to compare their results with a similar study conducted prior to the ban in the Republic of Ireland.

Source: Science Daily, Study Focuses on Mephedrone Use in Northern Ireland Post-Ban, October 5, 2010


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