Young people who abuse Mephedrone risk psychological problems as well as physical dangers, an expert has warned.
Leeds-based drugs expert Dr Nat Wright said it is a stimulant similar to cocaine and can carry similar risks.
"As a derivative of stimulants, it's new to the UK," he said. "There are anxieties about it, particularly the mental health effects."
Dr Wright, clinical director for vulnerable groups at NHS Leeds Community Healthcare, said it was often the vulnerable who would try substances like this.
"They may be vulnerable and have little experience of using drugs, particularly with stimulants.
"The major effects that we are worried about are mental health, psychological effects like anxiety and depression.
"You can get a high which wears off quite quickly. As it wear off you often get immense agitation and want a further high."
He said users could be subject to 'euphoric recall' where they remembered their first experience as being so good that they continually tried to recreate it. Dr Wright added that heart attacks and strokes were known to be closely linked to stimulants like cocaine, and that was a concern.
He said he would have worries about the substance being sold as a "legal drug", especially as it was teenagers who were most likely to try it.
Dr Wright added they were being advised to delay trying drugs or drink and be informed.
"The message is the same for any drug – always make informed choices in life," he said. "Don't take it because someone else says so.
"Don't be frightened to be yourself. Being assertive, being strong and being in control of what you take or don't take is something that will stand you in good stead.
"If there are people who have been through it and can talk about the effects of this, then listen to them as they have often learned the hard way."
By Katie Baldwin and Jo Francisco
December 21, 2009
Yorkshire Evening Post