Background: Mephedrone injecting has recently been reported in Romania, Slovenia, Guernsey and Ireland. The research reported here aimed to describe the experiences of a group of Irish injecting drug users, who were injecting mephedrone based headshop products prior to the introduction of legislative controls in Ireland, with particular focus on pre- and post-legislative use, effects of injecting mephedrone, settings and contexts for injecting, polydrug use and serial drug injecting, risk perceptions and harm reduction practises.
Methods: Following a predevelopment phase with a Privileged Access Interviewer, in-depth interviews using a phenomenological approach were conducted with eleven attendees of a low threshold harm reduction service.
Results: The findings describe the abuse potential of these mephedrone based headshop products when used by intravenous injection. Although participants were aware of risks and safe injecting practises, compulsive re injecting with excessive binge use over long periods of time was common. Nasal to injection route transitions, intense paranoia, violent behaviour and aggression, emergence of Parkinson type symptomatologies (in the form of spasms and 'wobbling'), and permanent numbness in lower extremities were reported. Multi and serial drug injecting with heroin was used in efforts to manage the intense rush and avoid unpleasant comedown. Participants reported limb abscesses, vein clotting, damage and recession resulting from product toxicity, crystallisation of the products when diluted and flushing practises. Seven participants were homeless, with groin and street injecting common. Following legislative changes use of mephedrone products declined due to closure of headshops, increased street prices, concerns around contamination and the emergence of new street stimulant drugs.
Conclusion: Continued monitoring of drug displacement patterns in post legislative time frames is advised, alongside longitudinal ethnographic research to track the diffusion of mephedrone and other cathinone derivatives within injecting networks. Further investigation of the adverse health consequences of these drugs on injection is warranted.
Copyright © 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.