Mephedrone Makes Itself Known

Mephedrone Makes Itself Known

Many encounters with drugs begin with an uneducated start. An initiated user, awash in ignorance themselves, offers a substance to a friend. The friend, asking few questions and anxious to try something new, accepts the offer and joins the party. Often, when dangerous side effects or an accidental overdose take place, the user has no idea what substance they’ve used. This scenario often plays out when a new drug hits the streets.

Mephedrone is one of the latest substances to make an appearance on the illicit drug market, and it’s use has resulted in many panicked phone calls to poison help lines. As Mephedrone becomes a more popular street drug, more users are seeking help for negative consequences.

Mephedrone is a synthetic stimulant classified as a cathione, and has effects that mimic an amphetamine. Possibly produced in China, it is derived from a plant found in eastern Africa. It comes in various forms, such as a powder or tablet and can be snorted, swallowed or injected. It produces effects similar to that of cocaine and other amphetamines.

The drug is surfacing at poison information help lines, such as the one in the UK, the Health Protection Agency’s National Poison Information Service. The NPIS has reported that there has been a substantial increase in inquiries regarding the drug mephedrone between 2009 and 2010.

The NPIS reports that there were 4,500 online and 292 phone inquiries from health care professionals requesting information about mephedrone in the last year. This increase created a stir because there were no inquiries in 2008 or 2009 about the drug. The information is published in the 2009-2010 NPIS annual report.

Mephedrone was the subject of more phone calls than any other recreational drug in 2009-10, and it was the third most commonly referenced recreational drug in online inquiries. In April of 2010, the drug was classified as a Class B controlled substance under the Misuse of Drugs Act.

Professor Simon Thomas, the director of NPIS, explained that the classification of the drug as a Class B substance had a significant impact on the number of inquiries they received about the drug. Telephone inquiries plummeted after the classification, from 119 in March to 19 received in June of 2010.

The number of phone calls and online inquiries the NPIS received in 2009-10 totaled 578,000 from healthcare professionals.

Poison centers like the NPIS are essential for providing consultation for healthcare professionals. They are critical in expediting care for an individual in a dangerous situation and help avoid incurring high medical costs when risk is low and an individual can be treated at home.

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