Synthetic cathinones

Last published: June 06, 2024

What is mephedrone?

Mephedrone (4-methylmethcathinone) is an empathogen-stimulant drug, which means it speeds up the messages travelling between the brain and body. Mephedrone also increases an individual’s feeling of empathy and kindness and enhances feelings of being socially accepted and connected to others.1

Mephedrone is a New Psychoactive Substance (NPS) - a drug that has been designed to produce effects similar to those of established illicit drugs.

It was originally marketed online as a plant fertiliser or ‘research chemical’.1

What does mephedrone look like?

Mephedrone comes in different forms, including:

  • white powder with a yellowish tinge
  • crystals
  • capsules
  • pills.2

Other names

Meph, meow, meow-meow, m-cat, plant food, drone, bubbles, kitty cat.1

Other types of empathogens

How is mephedrone used?

Mephedrone powder is usually sniffed/snorted or swallowed.2 Swallowing is the most common way of taking the drug. It is usually mixed with liquid to drink or wrapped in a cigarette paper (known as ‘bombing’).2 There are also reports of people injecting the drug.2

Effects of mephedrone

Use of any drug can have risks. It’s important to be careful when taking any type of drug.

Mephedrone affects everyone differently, based on:

  • the amount taken
  • a person’s size, weight and health
  • whether the person is used to taking it
  • whether other drugs are taken around the same time
  • the strength of the drug (which varies from batch to batch)
  • the environment (where the drug is taken).

The following effects may be experienced and may last for two-to-four hours:

  • rush of intense pleasure
  • feeling happy, energetic and wanting to talk more
  • intense connection with music
  • anxiety
  • paranoia
  • restless sleep
  • muscle tension (face and jaw)
  • blurred vision
  • light-headedness, dizziness
  • distorted sense of time
  • memory loss
  • nose bleeds from sniffing/snorting the drug
  • enlarged (dilated) pupils, blurred vision
  • dry mouth, thirst
  • sweating
  • reduced appetite
  • stomach pains, nausea, vomiting
  • skin rashes
  • fast or irregular heartbeat
  • high blood pressure and hot flushes
  • strong urge to re-dose
  • chest pain
  • tremors, convulsions.1,3,4

People who have used mephedrone report that the effects of mephedrone are usually felt within 15-45 minutes and lasts for approximately 3-6 hours.5

Impact of mood and environment

Drugs that affect a person’s mental state (psychoactive drugs) can also have varied effects depending on a person’s mood (often called the ‘set’) or the environment they are in (the ‘setting’):

Set: a person’s state of mind, previous encounters with stimulant-enactogen drugs, and expectations of what’s going to happen. For example, feelings of stress or anxiety before using mephedrone may result in an unpleasant experience.6

Setting: the environment in which someone consumes mephedrone – whether it’s known and familiar, who they’re with, if they’re indoors or outdoors, the type of music and light. For example, using mephedrone in a calm, quiet and relaxed environment can lead to, or contribute to, a pleasant experience but being in a noisy, crowded place may result in a negative experience.6

Being in a good state of mind, with trusted friends and a safe environment before taking mephedrone reduces the risk of having unpleasant experience.

Mephedrone has been linked to some deaths in the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe.


If a large amount of mephedrone is consumed, it could cause an overdose. If any of the following effects are experienced, an ambulance should be called immediately by dialing triple zero (000).

  • limbs tingling and turning blue (due to narrowing of the blood vessels)
  • seizures
  • respiratory failure4
  • death.4,7

Coming down

In the days after mephedrone use, the following may be experienced:

  • restless sleep
  • tiredness
  • dizziness
  • low mood
  • wounds, sores taking longer to heal
  • memory loss.2,3

Long-term effects

Regular use of mephedrone may eventually cause:

  • difficulty sleeping
  • muscle spasms
  • seeing and hearing things that aren’t there
  • needing to use more mephedrone to get the same effect
  • dependence
  • financial, work and social problems.

Using mephedrone with other drugs

The effects of taking mephedrone with other drugs – including over-the-counter or prescribed medications – can be unpredictable and dangerous. The following combinations could have the following effects:

Mephedrone + ice, speed or ecstasy: increased risk of harms, including death.8

Mephedrone + alcohol + cannabis: nausea and vomiting.1

Mephedrone + MAOIs (antidepressants): reports that this combination can increase risk of seizures and heart issues.9

Reducing harm 

  • Avoid taking other drugs with mephedrone particularly other stimulants such as cocaine or amphetamine.
  • Mephedrone can cause the body to overheat. If you are dancing you may become dehydrated, so take regular breaks and drink moderate amounts of water.
  • Avoid injecting mephedrone as it can cause soft tissue and vascular damage.
  • Snorting mephedrone is very damaging to the nasal passages, the least harmful option is to take it orally.
  • Avoid driving or operating machinery.
  • Try to avoid the urge to re-dose as it can this place s enormous stress on the body and heart.


Giving up mephedrone after using it for a long time can be challenging because the body has to get used to functioning normally without it.

Reported symptoms include:

  • cravings
  • increased appetite
  • stuffy nose
  • tiredness
  • feeling anxious
  • feeling depressed, emotional, tearful
  • irritability
  • difficulty concentrating.7

Getting help

If your use of mephedrone is affecting your health, family, relationships, work, school, financial or other life situations, or you’re concerned about a loved one, you can find help and support.

Call the National Alcohol and Other Drug Hotline on 1800 250 015 for free and confidential advice, information and counselling about alcohol and other drugs

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Find out more
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  1. Drug Wise. Mephedrone, methedrone, methadrone and methylone 2017
  2. Advice I. IVuse of mephedrone 2012
  3. World Health Organization. Mephedrone Critical Review Report 2014.
  4. Talk to Frank.Mephedrone Talk to Frank;  [cited 20.02.2020
  5. Psychonaut Wiki. Mephedrone 2022 cited: September 2022]. :
  6. Nutt D. Drugs without the hot air : making sense of legal and illegal drugs. Cambridge: UIT Cambridge Ltd; 2012.
  7. Maskell PDP, G. Seneviratne, C. & Pounder, D.,. Mephedrone (4-methylmethcathinone)-related deaths Journal of analytical toxicology 2011;35(3):188-91.
  8. Drug Science. Mephedrone n.d.
  9. Bristol Drugs Project. Mephedrone: Bristol Drugs Project;
  10. Winstock AM, L. Ramsey, J. Davies, S. Puchnarewicz, M. & Marsden, J. . Mephedrone: use, subjective effects and health risks Addiction. 2011;106(11):1991-196.

Explore empathogens on the Drug Wheel

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anxiety , blurred vision , chest pain , dilated pupils , distorted sense of time , dizziness , dry mouth , fast heart rate , feeling happy , high blood pressure , intense connection with music , memory loss , muscle tension , nose bleeds , paranoia , reduced appetite , restless sleep , rush of intense pleasure , skin rashes , stomach pains , strong urge to re-dose , sweating , tremors


bubbles , drone , kitty cat , m-cat , meow , meow-meow , meph , plant food