Tips to spot kids on Meow drug
IT might not yet be illegal, but mephedrone - aka meow meow - is a dangerous substance that has already claimed the lives of several British youngsters.
Here, psychiatrist Ken Checinskii, from drug information service FRANK, gives his tips on the signs and symptoms to look out for to spot if your child might be taking the drug. He says...
"Like any substance, you will notice a general change in youngsters if they have taken mephedrone.
"But the effects, unlike LSD or ecstasy, only last for a few hours.
"But meow meow is an addictive substance, so individuals who take it are likely to continue to take more and more to get a high which means users often get in a bad way.
"If you notice signs of anxiety or a quick heart rate, palpitations, bolt-eyes, confusion and erratic behaviour, then they may have taken the substance.
"The come down can often be dreadful. If they are coming off mephedrone then they are likely to seem flat, unresponsive and have a lack of care about them.
"Paranoia, is another sign. Users can often feel that people are getting to them for hours and even days after taking the drug. This sometimes leads to depression and suicidal thoughts.
"Unprovoked arguments, emotional outbursts and erratic behaviour could all be signs.
"Physically they may have breathing difficulties - that may even amount to an asthma-like panic attack, whether they have asthma or not.
"Nose bleeds are also common, in those who choose to snort the drug.
"Sleeplessness is likely to follow a binge on the drug too, so check their patterns.
"Cold hands and feet have been associated with the drug also.
"While for a street-drug user the prices of meow meow might seem reasonable, for a school kid or university student, it's costly.
"For that reason, you should look out for your child demanding extra money for things, or even attempting to remove money from the house without your knowing.
"And as the substance is addictive, the chances are they'll be craving it if they have the cash for it or not.
"It might seem like an age-old piece of advice, but parents should keep a close eye on what their kids are doing.
"Have they recently changed their friendship circles? If yes, this could point to change of habits.
"Keep watch that stories add up, that they are where they say they will be and that parents of friends know where they are too.
"Also, look out for paraphernalia that signals they have bought the drug.
"Shops that sell the drug are often known called head shops.
"You could also check their browsing history on the net.
"The key to finding out about your child's habits, is not to launch into a full-scale attack on what they might be up to. This is more likely to push your child away from telling you the truth.
"Openly discuss the recent news stories on the drug.
"If you take a level stance with them they are more likely to listen.
"Explain that you understand why they might think they need something like that to give them social skills or confidence, but clearly set out the dangers of the drug in a non-preachy way.
"Try and direct them to somewhere like Talk to Frank, which is a place they can get information without feeling like they are being attacked.
"If you fear your child has taken the drug, then feel no shame in getting them to A&E straight away.
"The drug can be dangerous, and it's best to be safe rather than sorry."
By CHARLOTTE MARTIN
Published: 24 Mar 2010