A web-based survey on mephedrone

Mephedrone (4-methylmethcathinone) is a substituted cathinone with stimulant properties. The popularity of mephedrone in the UK rose sharply in 2009 after it became seen as a legal, cheap and easily available alternative to MDMA (ecstasy). Adverse events associated with its use, including a series of alleged deaths, attracted media attention and the hastening of a government report (ACMD, 2010). Mephedrone was made Class B in April 2010, largely on the basis that it shares similar properties to amphetamines, most of which are Class B. The present study sought to collect informa- tion on various aspects of mephedrone use via a web-based survey targeted at mephedrone users. An extensive web-based survey on mephedrone has been carried out before (Winstock et al., 2011) but because the present survey opened shortly after the ban, its results extend current knowledge by providing information on the opinions and behaviours of mephedrone users during this period.

Methods

This study was approved by the Imperial College Research Ethics Commit- tee. The survey was built using Bristol Online Survey (http://www.survey.bris.ac.uk), a web survey development service. The survey can be viewed at the follow- ing address (http://www.survey.bris.ac.uk/iscd/mephedrone). The survey was formally advertised on the websites: http://www.bluelight.org, http://www.drugs-forum.com and http://www.drugscience.org.uk. It was entirely anonymous, took 20–30 min to complete, and featured 56 questions requiring both restricted/categorical and open responses. Completion of every question was mandatory. Subjects were informed that they should only complete the survey if they had taken mephedrone on at least one occasion in the past. The first forms were received on 17th May 2010 and the last forms on 21st September 2010. The survey questions addressed a broad range of issues, from parameters specific to mephedrone use to the perceived harms of other drugs. This report focuses on the questions that were specific to mephedrone.

Results

Basic and demographic data One thousand, five hundred and six completed forms were received. All respondents declared that they had taken mephedrone at least once. Most had heard about the survey through www.drugs-forum.com or www.bluelight.org. Eighty four percent of respondents were male and 80% percent lived in Britain. Their mean age was 26 (SD = 9, range 10–73).

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