Fife woman dies after taking ‘bubbles’
A 49-YEAR-OLD Dunfermline woman has died after taking mephedrone, commonly known as ‘bubbles’, police said yesterday.
The woman is believed to have taken mephedrone shortly before collapsing on Saturday afternoon and, despite the efforts of medical teams at the town’s Queen Margaret Hospital, died shortly afterwards.
Last night Fife police warned the public of the dangers of so-called ‘legal highs’—many of them unregulated substances sold under the guise of plant food or chemicals used for industrial purposes.
Last month an Angus sheriff voiced his concern that the substances could lead to someone’s death.
Sheriff Norrie Stein said, “From what I am hearing, things are beginning to get very serious as far as bubbles are concerned and it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if we were to soon hear of the first death directly related to its use.”
Little scientific information is available as to the effects of legal highs, and the effects when mixed with alcohol, but police believe there is a real risk of death.
Chief Superintendent Alistair McKeen, head of specialist services, said, “The inquiry into the woman’s death is still at an early stage and the results of a post-mortem examination, including toxicology, will hopefully clarify the role that any substance taken may have played in her sudden death.
“Potential users of ‘legal highs’ need to be aware of the dangers associated with these substances.
“None of these were designed for human consumption and their effects are largely unknown.”
He added, “What we do know is that there is a trend for people to experiment with a range of substances in search of ‘legal highs’ as a means of avoiding prosecution.
“Tragically, the avoidance of prosecution is being prioritised over the risks to health, and a number of deaths have resulted across the country.”
In a separate incident on Monday, ambulance crews were called to an address in Methil after a number of people became ill after allegedly taking a substance known locally as ‘white magic.’
While six people had consumed combinations of alcohol and other substances, one woman was taken to hospital as a precaution.
These incidents come shortly after a warning from a drug advice group that the use of legal highs such as bubbles was becoming more and more popular.
Joy Patrick, of the Drug and Alcohol Project Limited, said this month that such substances could be on the increase across Fife, after extraordinary scenes at Arbroath Sheriff Court where a 21-year-old man claimed that he had been driven to the brink of suicide after taking mephedrone for just a matter of weeks.
Bubbles—also known as methyl methcathinone—first hit headlines in September after Dundee police seized a batch. It is thought the substance started being abused in the city in early 2009, writes Jennifer Cosgrove.
It is normally swallowed or snorted and is thought to be a cocktail of MDMA, ecstasy and cocaine, but has not been extensively tested by scientists.
It is popular among students and teenagers and thought to be widely available in pubs and clubs.
In October research revealed that although bubbles do not contain any illegal substances, users could suffer serious side effects.
These can include an increased heart rate, dizziness, agitation, skin discolouration, vomiting, bleeding gums, dehydration and increased blood pressure.
Bubbles is mostly mephedrone, a research chemical sold usually as plant food and not for human consumption.
There have been numerous reports of non-fatal overdoses and hospitalisation in Dundee in connection with the substance.
In November a man who appeared in court in the city claimed he could not recall trying to stab two police officers after taking bubbles.
Police in Dundee believe the substance is being manufactured in Dundee for distribution throughout Tayside and Fife.
People who use the drug have been warned that batches may contain other harmful and illegal substances.
By Jonathan Watson
January 27 2010
Fife woman dies after taking ‘bubbles’