SWANSEA’S top drug expert has warned the explosion in the number of people taking mephedrone is risking lives.
Director of Swansea Drugs Project Ifor Glyn said he had never seen a drug take hold in South West Wales so quickly in his 20 years of working as a drug therapist.
His warning comes after Dyfed Powys Police carried out 16 drug busts in Llanelli, Carmarthen and Ammanford, resulting in seven arrests.
He said: “This has come to our attention about a month ago. I did some training for Women’s Aid and they were all asking about it. On the same day we had to call two ambulances to the project as someone had passed out on it.
“Then the following day I had a call from an inspector with South Wales Police from Port Talbot asking us what we knew about it.
“He said officers had been having some problems calming down users at Morriston Hospital’s A&E.
“I have never seen a drug become so widespread and so quickly. It has taken me by surprise.”
Mr Glyn revealed the cheapness and availability of the drug, known as Meow Meow, was one of the main reasons why they had seen a spike in the amount of people using it, and that it was being taken by both recreational and hardened users.
“The side-effects are similar to ecstasy, amphetamine and cocaine,” he said. “I would describe it as the effects of ecstasy times 10. People have been suffering with extreme paranoia.
“People can buy a gram of the stuff for between £5 and £10, so what’s that, less than three pints?
“The worry is that with that price it is within range of any teenager.
“Users have been injecting it too. They have been complaining of abscesses, of it burning when they’ve injected, and of their veins collapsing, it is quite horrific. People don’t know what is in it — it is made entirely of chemicals.”
Mr Glyn added the project had already begun to take steps to deal with the rise in users.
He said: “Staff have already received training and we will be holding 10 free workshop sessions for other groups and agencies trying to get information on it.”