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Mephedrone (MCAT) Abuse And Addiction Treatment

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

Medically reviewed by

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

February 1, 2019

Many different types of synthetic amphetamines have recently appeared, but a new one that is being frequently abused is mephedrone (also called MCAT). Because mephedrone is fairly new to the recreational drug scene, not much information has been gathered about the possibility of addiction. One thing, however, is for sure—abuse of mephedrone is dangerous.

What Is Mephedrone?

Mephedrone is a stimulant combination of the amphetamine and cathinone classes of drugs. At first, mephedrone was developed by chemists for a market that was looking for a cheap drug with effects comparable to ecstasy or amphetamine. It is not to be confused with methadone, which is a prescribed medication used to treat heroin. Mephedrone is taken for recreational purposes, and those who take it tend to believe it is non-addicting, according to Medical News Today.

Since mephedrone is a blend of both amphetamine and cathinone, it is important to understand what each term means. An amphetamine is a stimulant which affects the central nervous system (CNS), while “cathinone” refers to substances taken from the khat plant in East Africa. While cathinone occurs naturally in the khat plant, mephedrone is a synthetic replication of cathinone, meaning mephedrone is an artificial drug.

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Stimulants are a class of psychoactive drugs which may improve certain mental or physical functions for people who take them. Mephedrone belongs to the entactogen class of psychoactive drugs, which means that it produces certain enhanced emotional and social effects similar to those of ecstasy or MDMA.

Why Would Someone Take Mephedrone?

It may be difficult to understand why anyone would take mephedrone, especially when there is little to no understanding of how this drug will affect humans in the long term, however, reports are showing that many people do. For some, they may seek the increased stimulation it offers. People who take it may also believe it makes them more confident or social, when perhaps they may not be otherwise.

For instance, Medical News Today reports that people who have abused mephedrone say they experienced levels of heightened:

  • Alertness
  • Euphoria
  • Excitement
  • Stimulation
  • Openness
  • Restlessness
  • Libido
  • Urges to speak

In addition to the desired effects mephedrone creates, people may seek use of it due to lack of regulations. As explained in an article posted by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, “the unified international legislation and control of mephedrone as a substance is still missing.” A number of European countries have banned use of it, but many others have failed to follow suit. This may be due to the fact that mephedrone is so new to the world of substance abuse, that little information exists regarding its abusive and addictive properties.

The dangerous thing about synthetic designer drugs is that people taking them may be unaware of their true harmful potential. With new synthetic substances entering the drug scene all too often, people may take substances which have higher doses of chemicals than what they expect. Depending on which substances a person may have already taken, subsequent use of a designer drug with a powerful, synthetic makeup could result in overdose or other damaging effects.

What Are The Effects Of Taking Mephedrone?

Even though mephedrone is not yet proven to be addictive, it can cause side effects ranging from moderate to severe.

People who have taken mephedrone have experienced:

  • Blue or cold fingers
  • Extreme panic attacks
  • Hallucinations
  • Headaches
  • Heart palpitations
  • Nausea
  • Paranoia
  • Profuse sweating

Again, because little research exists on the effects of mephedrone, the long-term nature of this drug is uncertain. However, some people who have used mephedrone have found it difficult to stop taking it, and have subsequently found themselves taking more and more of it. While this is not necessarily an addiction, mephedrone abuse should be treated with the same care as other substance abuse. Because it is an amphetamine, people affected by mephedrone abuse may also experience both the short- and long-term negative effects associated with abuse of other amphetamines.

Short-term effects may include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Energy surges
  • Increased body temperature
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Heart failure
  • Hostility or paranoia
  • Increased heart rate or irregularity
  • Lack of appetite
  • Dilated pupils
  • Twitching or muscle tremors

Long-term effects depend on the amount of amphetamines used, as well as the length of time the person has been abusing them, and the combined effects of other substances the person may be taking. Prolonged use of amphetamines may result in staggering health effects, such as psychological or behavioral disorders, changes to a person’s mentality, unusual fatigue, cardiac arrhythmia, convulsions, malnutrition, ulcers, skin lesions or diseases, and in extreme cases, coma or death. The media has attributed four deaths to mephedrone in the UK.

How Is Mephedrone Treated?

To understand how to treat any substance abuse, it is first important to understand how addiction works. When a person is afflicted with substance abuse, they experience brain changes which cause them to seek use of the substance again and again. This endless cycle can eventually cause health changes or worse. However, victims of substance abuse can find hope in the fact that there are options for treatment.

Substance abuse has a number of treatments available. Comprehensive amphetamine treatment should include a combination of methods which address the specific treatment needs of the patient, including any other co-occurring disorders or health issues. For persons struggling with addiction or other disorders, inpatient programs may be best. Inpatient programs involve treating a person in a residential facility with the aid of supportive and highly trained staff and may incorporate medication-assisted therapies.

Therapy may include various types of psychotherapies, offered in an individual, group, or family counseling setting. Each therapy type caters to different needs and works through specific issues. Medications may involve prescriptions which help the individual wean off the substance, as to avoid the symptoms of severe withdrawal. Various non-addictive medications may also be used to treat other disorders the individual may have, such as mental health disorders.

In contrast, some individuals may not need such a heavy or intensive program. For these people, outpatient programs may be appropriate. In outpatient programs, people may recover at home with strong family support while reporting to a physician or drug rehab facility and undergoing certain therapy types as needed. This is a great option for highly motivated people who already have a strong support system.

Of course, before making any decisions for treatment, it is necessary to take into consideration the individual in need of treatment, the drug of abuse, any existing medical or mental health issues, a person’s support system, funding, location, and more. For this reason, it is a good idea to speak to a professional and find out more information regarding resources before seeking treatment.

How To Stop Mephedrone Abuse And Get Treatment

Ending substance abuse can be a difficult process, and it is not one that will be achieved easily. Treatment is available, though, and you do have options to treat your mephedrone abuse. Whether you or a loved one are struggling, you can get the help you need and deserve. If you contact us at, you will get in touch with a team of professionals ready to help you begin your recovery. You can voice your concerns, get connected to resources, and find help towards coordinating a treatment plan that is right for you.

Center For Substance Abuse Research - Amphetamines

National Institute On Drug Abuse - Dangerous Synthetic Drugs

U.S. Department Of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration - Drugs Of Abuse: Amphetamines

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