Please note: Mephedrone is a relatively new drug, and so far there is limited evidence of how widely it is used in Australia. Due to the lack of formal research about its use and effects, much of the information used in this page has been taken from reports from people who have used the drug, rather than scientific sources.
Mephedrone (4-methylmethcathinone) was originally marketed as a plant fertiliser and “research chemical”.
Meph, meow, miaow-miaow, m-cat, plant food, drone, bubbles, kitty cat.
What it looks like
Mephedrone usually comes as a white powder, crystals or capsules. It is also available in pill form. Anecdotal reports indicate that it is most commonly sold as a powder with a yellowish tinge.
How is it used?
Mephedrone powder is usually sniffed/snorted or swallowed.
The effects of any drug, including mephedrone, vary from person to person. How mephedrone affects a person depends on many things including their size, weight and health, also whether the person is used to taking it and whether other drugs are taken around the same time. The effects of any drug also depend on the amount taken.
There is no safe level of drug use. Use of any drug always carries some risk—even medications can produce unwanted side effects. It is important to be careful when taking any type of drug.
People who have used mephedrone describe the effects as being similar to ecstasy, and estimate that the effects last between 2 and 4 hours. Some also say that the drug can be compulsive (“more-ish”) to use, and can create a state of psychological dependence. Many report that the negative effects become far more severe with heavy use.
The come down effects of mephedrone have been described as similar to ecstasy and amphetamines. Some of the effects reported include:
It has been reported that people who use mephedrone in a paticular session find it very hard to stop. Compulsive use can lead to side-effects including insomnia, involuntary muscle clenching and hallucinations.
Other effects of mephedrone use
All areas of a person’s life can be affected by drug use.
Taking mephedrone with other drugs
The effects of using mephedrone with other drugs is unknown due to a lack of research in this area.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
It is dangerous to drive after using mephedrone. The effects of mephedrone, such as blurred vision and distorted perception of time, can affect driving ability. The symptoms of coming down can also affect a person’s ability to drive safely.
Mephedrone use in the workplace
Under occupational health and safety legislation, all employees have a responsibility to make sure they look after their own and their co-workers’ safety. The effects of mephedrone such as drowsiness, dizziness and anxiety can affect a person’s ability to work safely and effectively. The symptoms of coming down and withdrawal can also affect a person’s ability to work safely and effectively.
Preventing and reducing harms
The use of mephedrone carries a risk of harm. This risk is increased when:
Several studies have reported that mephedrone induces strong feelings of cravings in most people that use the drug. A recent study of university students in the United Kingdom found that 17% of people who had recently used mephedrone reported symptoms associated with dependence.
In Australia, there are many different types of treatments for drug problems. Some aim to help a person to stop using a drug, while others aim to reduce the risks and harm related to their drug use.
What to do if you are concerned about someone’s mephedrone use
If you are concerned about someone’s drug use, there is help available. Contact the alcohol and drug information service in your state or territory.
What to do in a crisis
Always call triple zero (000) if a drug overdose is known or suspected—and remember that paramedics are not obliged to involve the police.
According to the Ecstasy and Related Drug Trends Bulletin [PDF: 472KB](new window) in 2010, the availability and use of mephedrone has increased in the past few years, with Tasmania recording the highest use.
Is it legal?
Mephedrone is classified as a controlled substance and has been added to Schedule 4 of the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956. It can only be imported into Australia with a valid licence and permit.
National drug policy
Australia’s national drug policy is based on harm minimisation. Strategies to minimise harm include encouraging people to avoid using a drug through to helping people to reduce the risk of harm if they do use a drug. It aims to reduce all types of drug-related harm to both the individual and the community.