M-Cat use on rise in Hull
DRUG workers in Hull say the amount of teenagers and young adults taking M-Cat has increased in recent months.
More people have reported taking the Class B drug in the city and professionals say regular users deteriorate quicker than heroin addicts.
As students prepare to settle into university life and visit many of the city's clubs, a campaign is being launched to educate them about M-Cat, other drugs and the help available.
Vicky Harris, head of substance misuse at Hull City Council, said: "It's hard to tell what exactly is in M-Cat as it's often mixed with other harmful substances.
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"Our advice is always not to take anything at all and especially not to drink alcohol at the same time.
"We have seen an increase in the past few months of the number of people coming forward reporting to have taken M-Cat."
Since April this year, the service has seen 20 young people aged between 16 and 19 who have claimed to have taken the drug – far more than last year.
The number has remained constantly high in recent months and the trend appears to have hit Hull later than other cities.
In arrest referrals since May, the service has also seen 13 clients who declared M-Cat use, the average age of these being 20-years-old.
Ms Harris said the majority of those who have taken the drug say it was during a night out and the cost often affects their decision, despite the drug being made illegal in recent years.
She said: "People have a view that heroin is dangerous but M-Cat isn't, which is wrong.
"It seems to appeal to a younger audience who are able to get hold of it over the internet – they don't have to go on the streets. It is hard to police but officers are taking it seriously and are doing everything they can."
Mephedrone, the full name for M-Cat, is a powerful stimulant and is part of the cathinone family – a group of drugs closely related to amphetamines.
There is very little evidence about the drug and what long-term affects it has, but people have been hospitalised after taking it.
Hull City Council has a dedicated team – Refresh – which works with young people and educates them on the physical, emotional and mental effects of drugs.
Ms Harris said: "People who take M-Cat report a lack of sleep and problems with aggression.
"We are taking out a raft of leaflets as people start university in the city and there will be awareness events held at a number of venues.
"The out-reach team will be giving out cards displaying advice lines and posters will be put up in toilets. People need to know not to take it and where to go for help when in need."