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  • A Costly Turn On”: Patterns of use and perceived consequences of mephedrone based head shop products amongst Irish injectors

    Posted on December 17th, 2013 TimB No comments

    Mephedrone injecting has recently been reported in Romania, Slovenia, Guernsey and Ireland. The research reported here aimed to describe the experiences of a group of Irish injecting drug users, who were injecting mephedrone based headshop products prior to the introduction of legislative controls in Ireland, with particular focus on pre- and post-legislative use, effects of injecting mephedrone, settings and contexts for injecting, polydrug use and serial drug injecting, risk perceptions and harm reduction practises.

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  • HIV and Injecting Drug Use

    Posted on July 10th, 2013 TimB No comments

    A significant increase in the number of gay men injecting drugs and people injecting Image and Performance-Enhancing Drugs could lead to increasing levels of HIV, warns the National AIDS Trust today (6 July 2013).

    NAT report ‘HIV and Injecting Drug Use’, based on the evidence of a number of experts in drugs and blood-borne viruses, found these newer injecting practices risk undermining the successfully low rates of HIV amongst injecting drug users (1.2%)

    New injecting trends amongst gay men

    The report found gay men are increasing using newer drugs, such as crystal meth, mephedrone and GHB/GBL, often sharing needles and using drugs in the context of risky sexual behaviour.

    At one key service in London, 85% of gay men now report using one or more of these three drugs compared only 3% in 2005.

    Yusef Azad, Director of Policy and Campaigns at NAT, said: “We are currently failing gay men who have problems with drug use and safer sex.  There are few services which understand their specific needs and these services are massively overstretched.  We need drugs and sexual health services work together to meet the needs of gay men, reduce problematic drug use and reduce HIV and hepatitis C transmissions linked to drug use.”

    Other new drugs being injected – steroids and tanning agents

    The report also highlights the rise in injecting of what are known as Image and Performance Enhancing Drugs (IPEDs) such as steroids or tanning agents.

    This poses a significant HIV risk as these newer injectors may not understand safe injecting practices. There is evidence of elevated HIV and hepatitis rates amongst steroid injectors.

    Yusef Azad Director of Policy and Campaigns at NAT, said: “NAT’s 2010 survey of public knowledge and attitudes to HIV found only 45% of the general public knew HIV can be transmitted through sharing injecting equipment.  If newer communities are starting to inject drugs, there is an urgent task to ensure health promotion and harm reduction messages reach these groups.  Otherwise there will be new transmissions of HIV and hepatitis B and C.”

    The report also criticised worrying comments made by the Government last year about maintaining people on OST (Opioid Substitution Therapy) – a key element in harm reduction.  It also called on the Government to tackle the high death rates amongst injecting drug users. People who inject drugs and who also have HIV have a death rate twenty times higher than the rest of the population.

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  • Customs stop record amount of head shop drug imports into Ireland

    Posted on January 5th, 2013 TimB No comments

    Record quantities of former head shop drugs were stopped entering the country last year, with the seizure of several new substances.

    Customs officers said the trade is increasing and that the products are being smuggled in by post, courier services, and the freight sector, mainly from China.

    Officials made a number of massive seizures in controlled deliveries in joint operations with gardaí, including two linked operations resulting in the interception of 18kg of a cocktail of new drugs in Waterford last September.

    While the supply and consumption of psychoactive substances in Ireland has fallen with the effective banning of former legal highs and the closure of head shops in 2010, many of the same powders and pills, and a range of new ones, are being supplied over the internet and sold illegally.

    Details released to the Irish Examiner show more than 36kg of these psychoactive substances were seized entering the country in 2012.

    These include:

    *21kg of pyrovalerone, a stimulant powder not previously seized in Ireland before;

    *8kg of 4-methylmethcathinone (4-MEC), another stimulant, also not seized before;

    *5kg of methylone, a former head shop drug, seized previously in 2011;

    *3kg of naphyrone, previously seen in head shop drugs, but this was the first time the drug was caught being illegally imported;

    *11kg of ‘other psychoactive’ drugs, including synthetic smoking mixtures, similar to cannabis.

    “Recent indications are that trade in these products is increasing in shipments of chemicals originating in China,” said a Customs spokeswoman.

    She said the drugs were often misleadingly described as chemicals with legitimate uses (bath salts, corrosion inhibitors, cleaning, or water treatment products).

    “There is evidence of involvement of Irish citizens in importation, repackaging, and distribution (including re-exportation) of these products, but links to organised criminal groups have not been established to date,” she said.

    Drug researcher Tim Bingham said the large haul of 4-MMC might be a replacement for mephedrone, the hugely popular head shop drug. “4-MMC is known as mephedrone and might be replacing it,” he said.

    Mr Bingham said an interesting aspect of the seizures was the massive consignments of pyrovalorone, which was similar to ecstasy in effects and has also been found in mephedrone products.

    He said there was a huge global trade in these products and said a lot was being supplied through hidden websites, including one called the Silk Road.

    Mr Bingham said it was “very difficult” for Customs to intercept packages coming into the country over the internet: “I’ve spoken to a lot of people who have imported from Silk Road and only two or three ever had packages seized. Having said that there are more controlled deliveries, so law enforcement are more aware of it.”

    Cormac O Keefe Irish Examiner 5/1/2013

  • Rise In Mephedrone Addiction Rivals Heroin Use – Huffington Post Live

    Posted on December 8th, 2012 TimB No comments

  • ‘Legal highs’ prevalence makes ban policy ‘ridiculous’

    Posted on September 4th, 2011 TimB No comments

    New “legal highs” are being discovered at the rate of one a week, outstripping attempts to control their availability and exposing what some experts claim is the “ridiculous and irrational” government policy of prohibition.

    Officials monitoring the European drugs market identified 20 new synthetic psychoactive substances in the first four months of this year, according to Paolo Deluca, co-principal investigator at the Psychonaut Research Project, an EU-funded organisation based at King’s College London, which studies trends in drug use.

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  • Experiences with mephedrone pre- and post-legislative controls: Perceptions of safety and sources of suppl

    Posted on July 17th, 2011 TimB No comments

    Drug scenes within several countries have changed in recent years to incorporate a range of ilicit psychoactive products, collectively known as “legal highs.” Hundreds of different legal high products have been described in the literature. Many of these products contain synthetic stimulants that allegedly “mirror” the effects of some illicit drugs. In 2009–2010, growing concern by the UK and Irish governments focused on mephedrone, a synthetic stimulant that had become embedded within several drug scenes in Britain and Ireland. In April 2010, mephedrone and related cathinone derivatives were banned underthe UK’s Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. Setting aside “worse case scenarios” that have been portrayed by UK and Irish media, little is known about mephedrone use from the consumer’s perspective. The purpose of this paper was to (1) explore respondents’ experiences with mephedrone, (2) examine users’ perceptions about the safety of mephedrone, and primarily to (3) examine sources of mephedrone supply during the pre- and post-ban periods.

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  • Psychiatrists document adverse effects of mephedrone

    Posted on June 2nd, 2011 TimB No comments

    Psychiatrists in Scotland have published the first known case series documenting the adverse psychological effects of mephedrone – also known by the street names meph, 4-MMC, MCAT, drone, miaow, and bubbles.

    The researchers studied 20 people who arrived at the emergency departments and acute mental health services in Edinburgh and Falkirk between January and June 2010, seeking treatment after taking mephedrone. Their study is published in the June issue of The Psychiatrist.

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  • Mephedrone, compared to MDMA (ecstasy) and amphetamine, rapidly increases bothdopamine and serotonin levels in nucleus accumbens of awake rats

    Posted on May 31st, 2011 TimB 1 comment

    The designer drug 1-(4-methylphenyl)-2-methylaminopropan-1-one (4-methylmethcathinone, mephedrone) is reported to possess psychostimulant,entactogenic and hallucinogenic effects. The purpose of this study was to examine the effectsof acute administration of mephedrone on extracellular levels of dopamine (DA) andserotonin (5-HT) in the nucleus accumbens of awake rats and compare these effects to thoseinduced by 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, ecstasy) and amphetamine.

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  • Taking drugs seriously report on legal highs

    Posted on May 16th, 2011 TimB No comments

    This paper is intended to provide the basis for a discussion of policy options in dealing with new psychoactive substances that show signs of popularity and of harmfulness within a wider project being undertaken by the UK Drug Policy  Commission and Demos, the outcomes of which are presented in Taking Drugs  Seriously: a Demos and UK Drug Policy Commission report on legal highs  (Birdwell et al., 2011).

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  • Report on the risk assessment of mephedrone in the framework of the Council Decision on new psychoactive substances

    Posted on May 6th, 2011 TimB No comments

    This comprehensive publication, which contains the data and findings of the risk assessment on mephedrone. The  European Union has responded to concerns over the availability and use of this  stimulant drug by assessing the health and social risks of the substance and, consequently, subjecting it to control measures across the EU Member States.

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