A YORK mother has revealed how the legal drug mephedrone transformed her “loving and gentle” son into an “aggressive and paranoid liar”.
The distraught mum chose to speak out about her family’s experience of the life-shattering effects of “bubbles” as she backed the campaign by The Press to outlaw the drug.
She said her son saw his promising university future “destroyed” when he was sucked into the potentially lethal world of mephedrone.
The drug, also known as “Meow Meow” or “”M-CAT” can be bought for as little as £3 a dose, with no risk of arrest.
Our campaign is calling for it to be made illegal after its arrival on the streets of York, North and East Yorkshire was revealed.
Hospital staff have seen a huge surge in the number of people needing emergency treatment after using mephedrone, while police say the number of seizures has now overtaken those of cocaine.
It is often confiscated because police are unsure if it is mephedrone or a banned drug.
Eleanor, of Tang Hall, said: “I am so pleased to read that The Press is backing a campaign against this deadly drug.
“My youngest son became addicted to M-CAT recently.
“He has changed from a loving, gentle, intelligent young man with a positive future at university into an aggressive, paranoid, lying person.
“I first became aware of his change in behaviour when I was living away with my job and I would come home to Tang Hall a few times a week.
“I was getting reports from my neighbours that he was having loads of friends round and creating a lot of noise.
“I confronted him and asked him if he was doing drugs and he was adamant he wasn’t. Eventually he said what he was taking – mephedrone – was legal and it was not causing him any harm.”
Eleanor described her son’s personality as “doing a 180”.
“Before taking this drug he was the most loving, sweet child,” she said.
“But afterwards he was unrecognisable. He even attacked his sister and head-butted her.”
Eleanor said: “My family and my son have been destroyed by this, and I know other families that are going through similar things to us.
“My son owed over £1,000 to the person he was buying this from and, due to the debt, allowed him to sell M-CAT and other drugs from our home.”
She said her son arranged for the drug to be delivered to the family home, and she was terrified by what it could do.
“This drug scares the hell out of me and has tested me in ways I never knew were possible.
“Every day is just new fears and I hope and pray every day that I don’t get a call to say my son is dead or in hospital due to this stuff.
“The group that my son was hanging around with were taking it for up to seven days at a time, with no sleep and no food, and although he swears he is no longer on it, I don’t trust him.
“I want to warn other mothers to be aware of this drug and the signs to be aware of such as paranoia, aggressive behaviour, depression; either suddenly flush with cash or broke.
“Be aware – before it causes your family the heartbreak it has caused mine."
* Are you worried about the increasing availability of “legal highs” such as mephedrone? Have you or your family been affected? Contact Jennifer Bell at The Press on 01904 653051 ext 315 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or have your say at thepress.co.uk
* Eleanor is a pseudonym, used to protect the identity of the woman and her son.
Mephedrone sold openly as plant food
NATIONAL concerns about mephedrone are mounting.
Cases include that of an 18-year-old girl from Burnley, who was lured in by the “legal high”, sold openly online as plant feeder, which many teens are using as a substitute for ecstasy and cocaine.
She said a three-day binge, which saw her and three friends consume 20 grams of the drug, left her a wreck.
In West Yorkshire, police have warned that mephedrone is proving popular among 14- to 25-year-olds and that it could lead to mental or physical damage. In the Scottish city of Dundee, five users suffered non-fatal overdoses during one weekend in November.
Dundee drugs worker Gareth Balmer said the city was “awash” with mephedrone, which locals call “bubbles”. It first appeared there in early 2009.
“It may have a cute name, but it's very dangerous,” said Mr Balmer.
A mephedrone user from Teesdale, in County Durham, sent out his own warning after ending up on suicide watch in a psychiatric hospital following his drug binges.
He said: “If you take enough, it will drive you mad.”
Mephedrone has been banned in Sweden where a teenage girl died after using it, as well as in Denmark, Finland and Israel. Germany is to make it a controlled substance from tomorrow.
Government prepares to bring in crackdown
THE rise of mephedrone use has forced the Government to put a fresh analysis of its potential dangers at the top of its drugs priority list.
A spokesman for the Home Office told The Press that the Government was committed to cracking down on “legal highs” that pose a significant threat to health.
“The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs is looking at the dangers of mephedrone, and the related cathinone compounds, as a priority and will report back to Government as soon as possible,” he said.
“Their advice will inform our response."
“Making substances illegal is only part of the solution. It is important to understand that just because a substance is legal, it doesn’t mean it’s safe to consume.
“Last year we launched an information campaign targeted at clubbers to raise awareness of the dangers of ‘legal highs’, including mephedrone, when people try to buy them online; and through partnership activity with clubbing website Don’t Stay In, and Mixmag magazine."
• Alternative names are Meow Meow and M-CAT.
• It can be bought for about £10 a gram on the internet.
• Usually sold as plant food to get round law.
• Usually in form of a white powder, left, or in crystal form.
• Popular with clubbers.
• Created from cathinone which is found in the plant khat, or qat, which itself is used as a stimulant.