Children found taking mephedrone as usage soars, say drug workers.
Anecdotal evidence grows of drug’s prevalence on UK streets, while police in south Wales issue warning to parents and schools.
Tracy McVeigh – Saturday 15 September 2012 16.34 EDT
Mephedrone was linked last year to 98 deaths in England and Wales.
Concerns over the dramatic rise in the use of mephedrone are intensifying as drug workers report seeing more children abusing the drug.
In the last few days police in south Wales, where figures issued last month show offences linked to mephedrone use had increased by more than 400% in 12 months,
have issued warnings to parents and schools after a 15-year-old boy was taken to hospital following use of the illegal drug.
Growing anecdotal evidence coming from those working to help people with addictions suggests that the stimulant, which is cheap and easily obtained, is being used by younger people as it becomes increasingly prevalent on Britain’s streets.
Workers at the drug charity Turning Point are working with one girl in Maidenhead, Berkshire, who became hooked on mephedrone at the age of 12 after being introduced to it by her 14-year-old sister. At first scared by her sister’s drug use, the girl was persuaded to try it.
“I had never done drugs before and I remember the adrenaline running through my body. My heart started racing with excitement and nerves. I fainted and remember my sister holding me up.
A few seconds later I got up and felt amazing. Because I was a gymnastic I started doing flips everywhere and was having the time of my life. I did more and more, so I can’t remember the rest until I got home.
“My sister and her friends hadn’t warned me about the comedown and I was crying my eyes out, feeling like I wanted to die.”
But within months she and another friend were taking “drone” every weekend. “It got so bad we started stealing money from our parents and one time my friend even stole £100 from her dad’s bank account.
We were hurting everyone around us, but we couldn’t care less as long as we were having a good time. I was so unhealthy; being awake from Friday morning till Sunday night was not good. My face was grey and I had constant bags under my eyes. I would chew my lips so much from gurning they would bleed.
“I wasn’t just getting into trouble in school, I was arguing at home too. On my 14th birthday we walked out of school and went and bought a gram of drone and did a half-gram line.”
Theresa Allen, the girl’s key worker, said: “It shows just how accessible this drug is becoming to young people. While 12 is still relatively rare, we are seeing a lot of 14- and 15-year-olds.
We’re seeing children using it inside schools and we’re working with schools so they can recognise it. Children will be very chatty, very euphoric and there can be a blue tinge around the fingers and mouth, because something about it appears to affect the blood supply.
“That’s not to say that older adults aren’t also using it, but when we don’t know anything about the long-term effects of this drug we should be especially concerned about young people who have young, still growing bodies.
“It’s chemically made, so you don’t know what’s in it. It’s promoted as plant fertiliser or ‘bath salts’ or whatever but it’s a bunch of chemicals chucked together, it’s a short-lived high and it’s proving to be very addictive indeed and at only £10 a bag it’s obviously appealing to young people.”
Initially a “legal high”, with people buying it in shops and from websites that listed it as plant food, mephedrone was classified as a class B substance in April 2010 after being linked to two deaths in Scunthorpe.
It was ruled out in both cases but the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs concluded last year that mephedrone was linked to 98 deaths in England and Wales.