Street names: MM-Cat, Meow Meow, Bubble, Magic, Crab, Plant Food

Street form: Off-white powder.

Street use: In 2009 and 2010 Mephedrone became widely available on the internet as a cheap and legal alternative to drugs like cocaine and ecstasy. Since then its street use has become widespread with reports that it is now more popular than cocaine.

Drug effect: Stimulant drug with effects similar to MDMA producing euphoria, alertness, talkativeness and empathy.

Dependency: Psychological.

Withdrawal: There is no evidence of physical withdrawal, although after-effects of the drug can include fatigue, depression and anxiety.

Long-term use: There has been little scientific or medical investigation into the long term effects of mephedrone so far. The ECMDDA reported that mephedrone can cause various unintended side effects including: poor concentration, teeth grinding, problems focusing visually, poor short term memory, halluncinations, delusions and erratic behaviour. The most severe effects appear anecdotally to be linked with high doses or prolonged usage and that the effects may be due to users taking other intoxicants at the same time.

Other effects that users in internet forums have noted include changes in body temperature, increased heart rate, loss of appetite, increased sweating, discolouration of extremities, paranoia and depression. When snorted it can also cause nose bleeds, and nose burns. A survey conducted by the National Addiction Centre, UK found that 67% of mephedrone users experienced sweating, 51% suffered from headaches, 43% from heart palpitations, 27% from nausea and 15% from cold or blue fingers.

Overdose risk: The varied potency of different batches of Mephedrone increases the risk that some users may overdose. Those who have overdosed report extreme agitation, paranoia and insomnia. High doses appears to dramatically increase the strain on users hearts due to significant vasoconstriction – where blood vessels in the body get narrower.

Legal status: Mephedrone and related cathinones were made Class B controlled drugs in April 2010. This means it is an offence both to possess the drug and to supply it to others.

Maximum penalty:

For possession: 5 years and/or unlimited fine

For dealing: 14 years and/or unlimited fine.