There is a growing media furore around the ‘legal high’ mephedrone following the deaths of two Scunthorpe teenagers who took the drug on a night out. While the media reports around the deaths usually mention that the two lads took a cocktail of drugs which also involved alcohol and the heroin substitute methadone, none of them seem to point out that this combination is likely what killed the two lads.
From the reports I’ve seen, it seems that the two most probably died from Central Nervous System depression, almost certainly due to combining alcohol and methadone, two depressants (or ‘downers’). The dangers of combining alcohol and methadone are unbelievably high, given this fact. Mephedrone, on the other hand, is a stimulant (or ‘upper’) and, while it’s still not advisable to go combining it with any other drugs, would not have contributed to CNS depression.
On the contrary, it’s likely that the mephedrone is the reason one of the two made it into work the next day before going home because he felt ill. Once the effects of that wore off, the deadly combination of methadone and alcohol would have had nothing to counteract it, with the results we’ve all seen.
The Timesonline stories all seem to come with the video from Nick Smith’s family, which is touching, but I am amazed at their naivety. I don’t blame them, because the media has been relentlessly banging on about the fact that they took mephedrone, so they’re naturally going to assume that this was the culprit. It must also be difficult for a family to admit that their son has died from taking a Class A drug, rather than because he tried one that was legal.
I can’t help but be reminded of the Leah Betts saga, which was billed initially as an MDMA overdose, but turned out to be caused by water intoxication. Of course, the coroner’s verdict was reported far less than the initial ’18 year-old dies from single ecstasy tablet’ line.
There also seems to be an element of denial from the boys’ family and friends.
Family and friends of the two teenagers who died after taking mephedrone insisted yesterday that both were strongly opposed to the use of illegal drugs.
If the two lads were ‘strongly opposed’ to taking illegal drugs, why had they both taken methadone, which is a Class A drug? I understand the reluctance of family and friends to come to terms with the fact that those close to them are using such substances, but at some point they have to accept that the two boys made a few bad decisions, not just the “one tragic mistake” Smith’s boss referred to.
Residents of the north Lincolnshire village of Winteringham, where Mr Wainwright lived and Mr Smith worked, insisted that neither remotely fitted the image of “a typical druggie”.
I’m wondering precisely what a “typical druggie” is like nowadays? From my own experience, most druggies are pretty well-informed about the stuff they take and know the risks associated with mixing drugs, especially with alcohol. in this sense, they don’t seem to have been “typical druggies”.
Unfortunately the real debates that these deaths should be triggering, about the neglect of proper drug education in schools and the scaremongering that seems to replace it, have been derailed by the inclusion of mephedrone in the initial police report.
None of this takes away, of course, from the tragedy of these two deaths – a friend of mine in university knew both the victims and I have nothing but sympathy for those affected by the loss.
With regards the death in Sussex of a 46-year-old man, which is also being attributed to the drug, the news report mentions that 2 men have been arrested in connection with supply of Class A drugs. This suggests to me that mephedrone has been part of a combination of substances taken by the gentleman in question. Given that he suffered a cardiac arrest, it’s quite possible that he has combined it with one or more stimulants (most likely cocaine or ecstasy, possibly amphetamine). Having said that, mephedrone alone is probably capable of killing someone in high enough quantities, but the arrests over Class A substances belies something different.