What is it?

Also known as M-Cat, Mkat, miaow miaow and other names, its full name is 4-methylmethcathinone.

It is a synthetic stimulant drug related to the natural stimulant found in the plant khat. It comes as a white powder which is usually snorted or taken orally. There have been reports of people injecting mephedrone, often existing injecting heroin users.

It has been popular in the UK since around 2008 when it was sold legally and often described as “plant food” or “bath salts” to get round the law. It was made a Class B drug in 2010. Prices went from about £10 to £20 a gram, but it has continued to increase in popularity and the price has gone down to £10 per gram. However a lot of powder sold as mephedrone may actually be a different drug, or adulterated with other drugs and/or cut with other powders.

Why do people take it?

Users report feelings of well being, increased energy and talkativeness.

Its effect is often described as a mixture of that of cocaine (increase in energy and confidence) and MDMA (“entactogenic effects” – feelings of empathy, love, and emotional closeness to others).

Is it addictive?

Mephedrone can be “more-ish” and people have a strong desire to re-dose. This can lead to continuing to use the mephedrone until it is finished. A fear of the comedown – tiredness, irritability and low mood – may keep people using. Due to cheapness and easy availability this can lead to people staying awake for 2 to 6 days.

Some people report hallucinations and agitation when they withdraw, however there is not thought to be a physical dependence. It does seem to be psychologically addictive though and people continue to use despite it adversely affecting their physical and mental health, finances, work, study and relationships with others.

There are reports of dealers allowing young people to get in debt and then demanding they commit crime or give sexual favours to pay it back.

Is it harmful?

As mephedrone is fairly new and the quality of it completely uncontrolled in the criminal market, all the long term effects are not yet known. Ketamine bladder was not known about until many years after ketamine was used recreationally.

Mephedrone seems to be more addictive and harmful than other party drugs like MDMA.

Psychological health – mephedrone use can leave people feeling low and depressed following use, which increases their desire to use more. As with any stimulant, staying awake for long periods leads to paranoid delusions and hallucinations. Usually these stop after a good sleep but can persist and many users have ended up needing admission to psychiatric wards. Users can experience intense cravings to use more.

Physical health – it increases heart rate and blood pressure. Many users report palpitations and shortness of breath, and many have required treatment in A&E.

Between July 2009 and August 2011 mephedrone use was present in 60 deaths in the UK. In 18 of these it appeared to be due to toxic effects of mephedrone. In another 16 of these the death was due to suicide, 13 by hanging. This may well be due to the severe depressive symptoms that occur in the comedown after mephedrone use. Deaths from mephedrone were typically in males (75%) under the age of 35 (78%).

More information here

Talk to Frank: mephedrone




How do I know if I have a problem?

Many people start out as infrequent users, generally using at parties or clubs.

Worrying signs are:

  • using more to get the same effect
  • using alone
  • using to cope with stress or emotions
  • using throughout the day
  • staying awake for extended periods of time
  • engaging in crime or sexual activity to get more mephedrone
  • falling out with family and friends
  • missing work and study
  • running out of money and getting into debt


Real life mephedrone story!

I started using Mkat in my first year of university when it was going about like crazy; it was pretty hard to avoid. The first few times I did it I couldn’t believe how good it was, and at such a low cost! However things quickly spiralled out of control and it soon became the norm for me to be doing several grams in one sitting, staying up for two or three nights. I actually ended up in hospital after one of these occasions. My boyfriend was selling Mkat so we had unlimited access to it and had been awake doing the drug for 48 hours. I became extremely paranoid and started to hallucinate. Thinking I could see my jaw dislocating and believing I would swallow my tongue, I got my boyfriend to call an ambulance. Paramedics took me to hospital and told me I was hallucinating and suffering from exhaustion. My use of the drug carried on for months after that, I felt mentally addicted to it; I couldn’t go on a night out without doing it and then staying awake for days on it. I decided this needed to stop, my relationship with my boyfriend had broken down and I was constantly paranoid about the state of my health. I disassociated myself from the group of people I would usually do Mkat with, and started counting each week that I had been off the drug. After three months I felt I had really achieved something. I still use MDMA every now and then; a drug I feel I can control. Mkat made me severely depressed and anxious, I was suffering from panic attacks regularly and lost a lot of weight; I’m now so glad to be out of that situation. It’s a dangerous drug and extremely hard to control, I’m glad I eventually found the strength to start saying “no” to it so I can now enjoy nights out and socialising without all of the horrendous side affects of Mkat-use.
As mephedrone is illegal it is unregulated, meaning that the powder bought could be anything. There are reports of various related chemicals, amphetamines and even very different drugs like methoxetamine being sold as mephedrone/M-Cat. Therefore the effects may be unpredictable as well as any long term effects.
What can I do to reduce?

Often people find that they have difficulty stopping once they have started using mephedrone and end up staying up for days on end until they collapse from drinking too much alcohol, develop hallucinations and paranoia or run out of money. Therefore an important strategy is to avoid having that first line.

Do something different!

  • Plan an alternative weekend entertainment – maybe you know someone else who also wants a break from mephedrone
  • Visit a different city
  • Avoid situations where you know people will be using mephedrone.
  • Let someone else look after your money so it doesn’t all get spent on drugs.
  • Try and fill up your time with other activities – work, sport,travel – boredom is a BIG risk factor for relapse.

I think I might need more help..

Seeing someone to discuss your drug use can be a huge relief and can provide support and motivation to get you feeling better.

Services in Leeds include:

  • The Leeds Club Drug Clinic
  • Harm reduction services
  • Multiple Choice
  • Platform (for under 18 year olds)

Check the Get Help tab for more info!