HEALTH officials in part of the region are believed to be the first in the country to target teenagers using the “legal high” mephedrone.
The Northern Echo revealed last month how police were warning that someone could die from taking the drug that has put five local youngsters in hospital.
The craze began in Teesdale, County Durham – an area with one of the lowest crime rates in the country – and now hundreds of leaflets warning youths about its dangers are being distributed.
The leaflets were produced by the County Durham Drug and Alcohol Team.
Although mephedrone can produce blackouts, severe hallucinations and mental health problems, it is not yet on the list of banned drugs.
The leaflet is believed to be the first of its kind in the UK.
Two months ago, the village of Cockfield hit the national headlines when five young people were taken to hospital suffering from the effects.
One of them took 36 hours to come down from his druginduced high, and he then suffered serious paranoia.
With reports of mephedrone being used by young people across County Durham and Darlington, there are fears that people could die.
Initially the leaflets will target Teesdale, but copies could be produced to meet demand elsewhere in County Durham.
Mephedrone, which is also known as drone, meph, mieow and M-cat, mimics the effects of ecstasy, amphetamines and cocaine.
It can be legally ordered over the internet for the price of a takeaway meal.
Inspector Kevin Tuck, from Teesdale Police, said: “We believe this is the first multi-agency advisory leaflet in the country for mephedrone. We have just taken delivery of the first batch of 500 and we will be distributing them.”
Apart from giving information about the drug, it warns potential users that while it may initially make them feel confident and energetic, it could lead to symptoms such as nosebleeds, stomach cramps, heart problems, severe psychosis and paranoia.
The leaflet will go out to senior schools in Teesdale, local youth organisations, pubs and bars in Barnard Castle and doctors’ surgeries.
The leaflet has contact numbers for anyone concerned about mephedrone to get more information.
December 26, 2009
The Northern Echo
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Leaflet to tackle ‘legal high’ is first in the country