Mephedrone: New drug on the rise

By Fouad Alaa

SIX PEOPLE dead from drug intake, 15 being treated for drug abuse, and 40 others arrested for possession of narcotics and other illegal substances.


You would expect to hear that sort of news about a drug den that the police recently raided, but the fact is that those were reports from the Future Music Festival Asia (FMFA) 2014 that was held recently here in Malaysia’s capital city, Kuala Lumpur.


Like many others, I was dying of envy because some of my friends made it to FMFA, and some others were supposed to be going on the event’s second and third days (it was supposed to be a three-day event). That envy turned to shock after I read the news about the event cancelation due to drug-related deaths and incidences, and that shock was not because of the numbers.


Anyone who is into rave parties will know that with a gig that big, somebody is going to ‘die’. It is actually a sad truth; whenever an amazing event takes place and there are a lot of people attending, usually there would be some hard-core druggies and drinkers preparing for the rave by taking their substances of choice, and there will always be those people who take a little too much.


An interesting fact was released recently in a national newspaper when specialist Dr Mahmud Mazlan, who owns and runs 10 clinics in Kuala Lumpur specialising in drug abuse treatment, stated that the six deaths at the FMFA were not caused by drug overdose but more likely caused by the new drug they took called Mephedrone.


About Mephedrone


Mephedrone, otherwise referred to by its street name ‘Meow Meow’ is a new psychoactive drug recently used in western countries which gives off similar social effects and emotions as ecstasy and cocaine.


Mephedrone has made its appearance in Jakarta since last year and has recently been sold right here in Kuala Lumpur through online advertisements with sellers actively promoting the drug on social media platforms. The websites that sell it in Kuala Lumpur call it ‘Bath Salt’ and ‘Fertiliser’.


According to a survey by Mixmag, a dancing and clubbing magazine, 67% of users experienced hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating) – 51% of users experienced headaches – 43% of users experienced heart palpitations – 27% of users experienced nausea – 15% of users had blue or cold fingers.


Anecdotal reports indicate that mephedrone may also cause severe panic attacks, hallucinations, and/or paranoia.


The growing spread of the use of Mephedrone is because it is easier and cheaper to make than methamphetamine.


What makes it the current most popular drug at parties is also because of its strong effect – it is ranked the 4th most popular street drug in the United Kingdom. Even though Mephedrone is banned in more than a dozen countries, it is still legal in Malaysia.


More than a dozen countries have banned this party drug because of the fatalities it caused. Despite the fatalities reported overseas, Mephedrone has not yet been listed under the Dangerous Drugs Act in Malaysia and is therefore still legal.


Dr Mahmud continued to explain that urine and blood tests currently used by authorities are not able to detect mephedrone precursors. As such, it tends to be mistaken for methamphetamine. He added that Mephedrone and other designer drugs can also go undetected in urine tests if they are taken with synthetic cannabis.


“Different people react differently to mephedrone. Most users will experience the normal effects but depending on their susceptibility, instant death can happen. The user may collapse and die even with a low dosage.”


I can’t claim that I know a lot of druggie friends but I have seen addiction victims in rehab and I have seen their family’s reactions after their child has died of an overdose; it is never easy nor worth it.


There is no way to be smart with drugs not just because it is illegal, but unless it is an approved drug, there is no definitive way you could tell its exact components. Taking drugs is like taking a gamble with your life as the bargaining chip, much like playing Russian Roulette with a loaded gun.


What adds insult to injury for the FMFA deaths is that the victims’ ages ranged between 19-28, kids born in the 80s-90s time period, which is just sad because independence and triumph are a short stop away.


Within a short 10-year span they are supposed to have mid- to high-level positions. Even if you don’t use recreational drugs, what happened should be a wakeup call to us all. Not just another reminder of how unpredictable life and death can be, but rather that this generation should really wake up and step up to what’s ahead.


I am not just another voice saying drugs are bad… well they are, but that is not the point. The point is there is no predicting the exact consequences of drugs on you.


Unless you are a chemist, stick with the safe way of getting high: maybe get high on success. If you do use drugs, even the so-called “light stuff”, here is a thought, save all that money and effort and try to spending them on someone else. If you feel like there is no way of being happy then try to make someone else happy. You will find that people who care are all around, it is just that at some point life has a way of making us forget they are.

Photo credit: AFP/Relaxnews


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