There are growing concerns over a new drug on the streets commonly known as “Meow” that is becoming very popular on the clubbing scene.

The fear is that many teenagers new to night clubs and drugs might underestimate the strength and harmful effects this drug can hand out. The greatest danger lies in its addictive nature which leaves the user craving for more.

Its’ effects are similar to that of cocaine or ecstasy; including a feeling of euphoria, excitement, heightened awareness, the urge to talk openly and the ability to stay awake for extended periods of time.  It is cheap and easily available over the internet. Combine this with gentler coming down effects and you have a drug which is very attractive to teenagers.

The key ingredient is Mepherdrone; commonly used in fertilizers. In the UK it is illegal to sell Mepherdrone for human consumption but it can legally be sold as “plant food”.

Australian Federal Police assistant commissioner Kevin Zuccato says anyone who wants to use it should think twice. ” It is a dangerous drug, no question about it. There have been deaths reported that have been linked to meow” he said.

Paul Dillon from Drug and Alcohol Research and Training Australia and speaker at the Generation Next seminars said, “definitely in terms of short-term effects we’ve seen some people who’ve used quite large amounts of it get very sick, people have talked about hallucinations but we really don’t know. Anyone who plays around with this drug really is being a guinea pig for the future”.

Those who have tried “Meow” say some of the side effects include an increased heart rate that sometimes leads to palpitations,  psychotic episodes, nose bleeds, hallucinations and in some cases self mutilation.

An online survey of 2,222 readers of the clubbing magazine Mixmag was recently carried out in the UK by the National Addiction Centre at Kings College. They found that 51% of mephedrone users said they suffered from headaches, 43% from heart palpitations, 27% from nausea and 15% from cold or blue fingers.

Recently, the Australian Federal Police seized 70 kilograms of drugs sent through the mail, including 20 kilograms of “Meow”. Research shows that it is contained in some legal highs and is sometimes sold mixed with methylone, also known as “Bubbles”.

It has now been banned in Finland and Sweden following the death of an 18 year old Swedish teenage girl in December 2008.  In Australia mephedrone is not specifically listed as prohibited, however  Federal Police have stated that it is an analog to methcathinone and therefore illegal. Technically mephedrone/4MMC can still be sold in the UK, although not for human use and it is still unscheduled in the USA.

Writer Helen Splarn. Editor Dr Ramesh Manocha