INCREASING numbers of patients are being admitted to Cefn Coed Hospital after using illegal drug meow meow.
Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board, which runs the psychiatric facility, has admitted that over recent months staff are having to deal with more and more patients suffering from symptoms believed to be related to use of drug, otherwise known as mephedrone.
The announcement comes weeks after police announced that Swansea and Llanelli are the top hotspots in Wales for meow meow use.
An ABMU Health Board spokesman said: "Over the past few months we have seen an increase in the number of patients admitted to Cefn Coed Hospital because it seems mephedrone has exacerbated their mental health problems.
"Mephedrone is a stimulant — the problems brought on by it are similar to those of cocaine and amphetamine.
"There is always some difference in terms of how the drug effects each person and for how long.
"However, our staff are familiar with all of the issues and are able to support and care for patients appropriately."
Police and staff at Morriston Hospital's A&E department have already expressed concern at the widespread use of meow meow, and in particular the violence associated with it.
A&E consultant Mike McCabe said users were often completely unaware of their actions.
He said: "They are very, very difficult patients to deal with in A&E and in the intensive care ward.
"When patients do withdraw from this drug they are still agitated for a few days.
"We have had one or two near misses where staff have avoided having serious injuries."
He also said he believed the drug had changed over the past 18 months, as patients used to be more placid, and warned against mixing it with alcohol.
"I think the drug they are taking nowadays is a different style of drug," he said.
"It's much more toxic and it makes people more violent.
"People should avoid drug use with alcohol as it's so dangerous."
Police taskforce Operation Tarian said in October that the drug is more than twice as prevalent in Wales as it was 12 months ago, with a 165 per cent increase in offences involving the drug.
Superintendent Phil Davies said: "Those people who are intent in taking meow meow should be aware that there are huge issues in the taking of this drug which could lead to long term health problems"
"On a regular basis we are seeing people who have taken meow meow and who have become violent, and having no memory of doing so.
"People should be under no illusion that this is a dangerous, powerful stimulant, being sold by some dealers as a 'party drug', which is far from the truth"
"I would just like to reiterate my previous appeals and urge members of the public to continue to contact us, and tell us what they know, so that we can take positive steps to keep this dangerous and nasty drug off the streets of Swansea Neath Port Talbot"