Written by: Nicki Hari
Medically Reviewed by: Dr Mateen Durrani – MBBS, DPM, MSc, BCPsych
Last Updated: January 10th, 2023
Mephedrone is a synthetic stimulant that has the potential to be very addictive. Recognised within the group of drugs known as ‘legal highs’, mephedrone was designed to imitate the effects of illicit substances such as ecstasy and cocaine. The effects of mephedrone can induce confidence, increased energy, and sometimes even euphoria in users after having consumed the drug. Commonly sold in powder form, a much stronger source of the drug, which resembled crystals or shards of glass, was found in some areas of the country.
If you or a loved one would like to know more about mephedrone, how it came into existence and what a mephedrone addiction might look like, read on for more information.
Is mephedrone addictive?
Mephedrone is a very dangerous substance which has the potential to be highly addictive. As a legal high, when mephedrone first emerged, it was commonly distributed over the internet and in “head shops” (stores specialised in selling drug paraphernalia), leading many individuals to take the drug, unaware of the risks. Since 2016, a blanket ban on all legal highs was put in place, meaning it is now illegal to distribute, supply or produce these substances. Mephedrone is now commonly sold by street dealers at an inflated price and with an altered chemical composition. The term ‘legal high’, then, is both outdated and misleading, and it is important to remember that mephedrone, and others legal highs are just as dangerous as illegal ones, with the same addictive potential.
Addiction is a chronic condition which alters the chemistry of the brain, leading individuals to repeat dangerous behaviour compulsively, even if it is unsafe or causes significant harm to their health. Mephedrone drastically increases dopamine and serotonin levels, inducing an energising and euphoric reaction in users. Many individuals have described their experience with mephedrone as making them feel more confident than before, with an enhanced warmth and fondness for those around them. Both the physical and psychological symptoms of repeated use can make it increasingly difficult to stop taking mephedrone, and this is how addiction develops.
Am I addicted to mephedrone?
Mephedrone is associated with a high risk of triggering repetitive and uncontrolled drug intake after early use; therefore, it is important to keep an eye on your habit and monitor whether it has progressed to something more severe. If you are unsure whether you or are addicted to mephedrone, ask yourself if any of the following statements apply:
- I find my mind wandering to thoughts of mephedrone, even if I am at work or in spaces where there is no trace of the substance.
- I have become disinterested in areas of my life that do not revolve around the drug.
- Those in my life that are very important to me are becoming increasingly concerned for my welfare.
- I feel that I want to stop taking the substance but am unable to.
- I now need more of the substance than I once did to achieve the same effect.
Signs and symptoms of mephedrone addiction
If you suspect someone you love is addicted to mephedrone, look out for any of the following signs
Physical signs of mephedrone addiction…
- Overly affectionate
- Dilated pupils
- Increased energy levels
- Clenching teeth
- Speaking very rapidly
- Highly distractible
- Highly distractible
- Becoming overheated rather easily
- Significant reduction in appetite
- Inability to focus on one topic or subject
It is also common that you will experience symptoms as a result of methadone addiction, which can range from mild to severe.
Symptoms of mephedrone addiction…
- Panic attacks
- Kidney damage
- Chest pains
- Heart and circulatory problems
What happens if I keep taking mephedrone?
Worryingly, it has been noted amongst the scientific community that there is no way of knowing what chemicals are contained within legal highs like mephedrone. For this reason, it is often very unlikely that the user will be certain of what it is they have ingested.
With no regulations over how much of the synthetic stimulant goes into each dosage of mephedrone, it is difficult to tell if you have taken too much, which can lead to severe and sometimes irreversible side effects. Some long-term effects of mephedrone use can include:
- Psychosis: a condition where people begin to lose touch with reality, seeing things which are not there and becoming delusional.
- Heart attacks.
- Mephedrone use can also increase the likelihood of strokes in young people.
Treating mephedrone addiction
If you are stuck in the cycle of addiction, it is important to remember you are not to blame for your affliction. Recovery is possible, and if you or a loved one are struggling, there are mephedrone rehab options available to get the help you need and deserve. Whether you have been abusing mephedrone or are battling full-blown addiction, help is available.
At Primrose Lodge, we provide rehabilitation programmes specifically tailored to your needs. So don’t let addiction consume another moment of your life. Get in touch as soon as possible, and one of our advisors will discuss which course of treatment is best for you.
Myths about mephedrone
Mephedrone and methadone are the same…
Although they both have similar names, you should not confuse mephedrone with methadone, as they are two very different substances. While mephedrone is an illegal, synthetic drug used for recreational purposes, methadone is a substance frequently used to treat withdrawal symptoms induced by drugs such as heroin and other opioids.
Legal highs couldn’t be as dangerous as other drugs because they used to be legal…
Unfortunately, this belief is common among individuals, but is by no means true. It is important to remember that the chemists who initially designed these substances, working within the black market, would devise clever ways to escape legislation and keep selling these substances over the counter and on the internet. In 2016, there was a blanket ban placed on all legal highs. The term ‘legal high’, then, is both outdated and misleading, and it is important to remember that these substances are just as dangerous as illegal ones and are by no means safe.