Meow meow frenzy: Manchester second worst in UK for legal high deaths as MCAT abuse rates soar

By Dean Wilkins

The legal high craze of meow meow caused havoc across Manchester, putting the city in the top two for most deaths as a result of using the drug, a new report revealed today.

Despite the number of overall drug-related deaths failing in England between 2009 and 2010, the number of fatalities coming as a result of abusing the now banned mephedrone, also known as MCAT, grew by almost 500%.

Recreational drug taking resulted in 29 deaths, up from five the previous year, and the number of over 16s per 100,000 who died was 13.4 in Manchester – only coming behind Brighton and Hove – the study revealed.

Meow meow is now a Class B drug, and the report by the National Programme on Substance Abuse Deaths read: “Methcathinones tightened their grip on the recreational drug scene in western Europe but especially the British Isles.

“The rapidity with which these new substances have emerged appears to be at an increasing rate.

“It is now difficult to gauge with any certainty what will be the next ‘big thing’ that will capture the attention of the experimenter or regular recreational drug user.”

Total deaths caused by consuming methcathinones rose to 43, and the concern about where the next legal high buzz comes from continues to grow.

Many students across the country are known to experiment with taking washing powder, laughing gas, prescription drugs and children’s cough medicine.

And despite the dangers of doing so being widely known and discussed at universities (the highest category of deaths) Professor Hamid Ghodse, director of the International Centre for Drug Policy, who was involved with the study, called for more measures to be taken.

“There are indications that there is still a general upward trend in fatalities involving emerging drugs such as mephedrone and prescription drugs such as methadone,” he said.

“This is a great concern and it is clear that much work is still required in improving access to effective treatment and rehabilitation services, and, most importantly, finding prevention strategies to stop people being at risk in the first place.”

The number of people killed by drug consumption in England dropped from 1,524 in 2009 to 1,358 12 months later.

In Scotland the fell from 479 to 365 and in Wales they were down to 81, having been 102 the previous year.

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