Mephedrone Epidemic in India

Mephedrone is a relatively new stimulant that has been making waves in India, particularly the Mumbai area, over the last few years. It is typically swallowed or snorted and gives users an hour-long high followed by an intense crash. It was banned in India in 2015, but until then it was cheap and readily available. Mental health professionals in the Mumbai area reported a significant increase in clients seeking assistance with mephedrone addiction.

Allure and Availability of Mephedrone Fuel the Epidemic

Mephedrone also goes by the street names Meow Meow, M-Cat and Bubbles. It is considered a party drug similar to cocaine. But unlike cocaine, mephedrone was legal in India and easy to find, particularly online, making it possible for just about anyone to buy it, try it and potentially become addicted to it. When taken in large quantities, it is possible to overdose on the drug, as well as experience other side effects such as:

  • Insomnia (sometimes staying awake for days at a time)
  • Nosebleeds
  • Hallucinations
  • Accelerated heart rate
  • Aggression

Users also become hyperactive and impulsive, making it extremely dangerous for them to operate a vehicle while under the influence of mephedrone. As for the names M-Cat and Meow Meow, these were most likely derived from the fact that users’ sweat smells like cat urine. Indian officials reported that numerous teens, some as young as 14, were among the estimated 30,000 people in Mumbai alone who were believed to be addicted to mephedrone by 2015.

India Not the First Country to Be Affected

More than 50 countries had already banned mephedrone by the time the epidemic came to India. It was first banned in 2008 in Israel. From there the drug grew in popularity in the U.K. and was banned in 2010. The U.S. followed suit in 2011. Of course, banned substances still wind up in the hands of users. Due to mephedrone’s popularity as a club or party drug, it is wise to warn your teenage or college-age children that this drug, and any drug offered at a party for that matter, is never safe. One possible side effect of mephedrone is death, and even first-time users can perish from overdoses and complications. Be aware of the signs of mephedrone use and don’t hesitate to seek help for a loved one if you are concerned for their health and safety. Sources:

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