Mephedrone use and associated adverse effects in school and college/university students before the UK legislation change

QJM. 2010 Nov;103(11):875-9. doi: 10.1093/qjmed/hcq134. Epub 2010 Jul 30.


Background: Mephedrone is a synthetic cathinone that is commonly used as a recreational drug among those who attend nightclubs. There have been increasing reports of toxicity associated with its use and it was controlled as a Class B drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act (1971) in the UK on 16 April 2010. There has been a suggestion from media reports that mephedrone use is common in children/students but there is no data on the prevalence of its use among the general population. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence and frequency of use of mephedrone among school and college/university aged individuals and to collect data on the sources of mephedrone and acute harm related to its use.

Methods: Data was collected using a questionnaire survey in schools, colleges and universities in the Tayside area of Scotland, UK in February 2010.

Results: A total of 1006 individuals completed the survey [501 (49.8%) males and 505 (50.2%) females], of whom 349 classified their educational institute as a school and 657 as a college/university. Among them 205 (20.3%) reported previous use of mephedrone; 23.4% reported using only using mephedrone on one occasion previously, although 4.4% reported daily use. A total of 56% of those who had used mephedrone, reported at least one unwanted effect associated with its use. A total of 17.6% of users reported 'addiction or dependence' symptoms associated with their mephedrone use. A total of 48.8% of users sourced mephedrone from street level dealers, 10.7% from the Internet.

Conclusion: We have shown in this study that the use of mephedrone among school and college/university students is common and that users found it easy to obtain. There was a high prevalence of unwanted effects associated with its use. Further work is needed to determine the impact of the recent changes in the UK legislation relating to mephedrone and other related cathinones and whether this has been effective in reducing the prevalence of mephedrone use.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Designer Drugs / adverse effects*
  • Designer Drugs / supply & distribution
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Illicit Drugs / adverse effects*
  • Illicit Drugs / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Illicit Drugs / supply & distribution
  • Male
  • Methamphetamine / adverse effects
  • Methamphetamine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Methamphetamine / supply & distribution
  • Schools
  • Students / psychology
  • Students / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United Kingdom
  • Universities
  • Young Adult


  • Designer Drugs
  • Illicit Drugs
  • Methamphetamine
  • mephedrone