AN 18-year-old Burnley girl has spoken out against a potentially-harmful legal party drug being used by teenagers across town.
The youngster was lured in by mephedrone, sold openly online as plant feeder, which many teens are using as a cheap substitute for ecstasy and cocaine.
But after a three-day drug binge nightmare which left her a wreck she issued a stark warning to others.
Little medical research exists about the harmful effects of the yellowish-white powder, which is sold with the message "not for human consumption", but it is believed to be linked to a number of deaths.
The fact it costs little over £10 a gram, is as easy to order as a pizza and is legal to buy, means mephedrone has flooded the streets.
The powder, which has the street names "bubble", "Michael", "drone" and "m-cat", is sold openly on websites and its popularity among partygoers has skyrocketed, becoming the fourth most popular substance in Britain according to a recent survey.
Youngsters in Burnley, Pendle and the Ribble Valley can have the drug delivered straight to their homes.
Although it is legal to use, it is an offence to sell or supply it and the Government has made it a "priority" to research its effects.
It has been banned in Sweden where a teenage girl died after using it, as well as Denmark, Finland and Israel and Germany is to make it a controlled substance from Friday.
Little is known about the long-term effects of the drug, but a report from charity Drugscope raised concerns. A spokesman said: "Like other stimulant drugs, it can have an impact on the heart and some users report heart palpitations, or an irregular or racing heartbeat, which may last for some time after taking the drugs.
"Users can experience blurred vision, hot flushes and muscle tension particularly in the jaw and face, and some people report their fingers and other extremities have taken on a blueish pallor after using mephedrone. Nausea and vomiting has been reported.
"A particularly concerning feature about mephedrone use is that once users have started using the drugs in a particular session, it is very hard to stop, with compulsive use leading to unpleasant side effects including insomnia, involuntary muscle clenching and hallucinations and in some cases regular or heavy use may develop into psychological dependency."
One 18-year-old Burnley user spoke candidly about the drug and its terrifying effect. "We went through 20g between four of us in three days," she said. "We kept going without sleeping or eating and by the third day I was just sat with my head between my legs. I've never felt so bad in my life.
"We started off on it on Boxing Day and were just hitting it and hitting it and hitting it and the next thing I knew it was three days later.
"I thought I was messing up off it, it was scary. I felt sick, I was drained, I was shaking violently and was so tired but I still couldn't sleep. It is no wonder people overdose on it."
She had to take several weeks off work to get over her nightmare and has vowed to avoid the drug. "Afterwards you feel disgusting. I had been taking it for a while but after that I never wanted to touch it again, It's scary.
"One of my friends took it and her vision totally went. She couldn't even see her phone. It was terrifying."
She told how two more friends had a violent reaction to mephedrone and had to go to hospital after the drug made them vomit uncontrollably.
Chris Lee, Harm Reduction lead for Lancashire Drug and Alcohol Action Team, said: "As with any drugs we are always concerned about the consumption. Mephedrone seems to have emerged in Lancashire over the last six months and therefore little is known about the risks or long term effects.
January 19, 2010
Teen warns of 'plant food' party drug danger after binge horror