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Miaow miaow: a review of the new psychoactive drug mephedrone

Rebekah Brennan (Based at the Addiction Training Institute, Glendwyr University, Wrexham, UK)
Marie Claire Van Hout (Based at the School of Health Sciences, Waterford Institute of Technology, Waterford, Ireland)

Drugs and Alcohol Today

ISSN: 1745-9265

Article publication date: 30 November 2012




Mephedrone is a synthetic stimulant drug causing entactogenic and hallucinogenic effects. A systematic review of all existing empirical research and literature from 2009‐2012 on this new psychoactive drug was conducted. This paper aims to report on that review.


The review was conducted according to PRISMA guidelines. Electronic databases were utilised using the search terms “mephedrone” and product nomenclature; “Plant Food”, “Feeder”, “Meow Meow”, “Miaow”, “Drone”, “Meph” “Bubbles”, “Charge”, and “MCat”. The search was restricted to publications from 2009‐2012, and produced 702 results. Data were collected by one member of the research team and cross checked by another. A primary screening was carried out to exclude inaccurate search results and drugs other than mephedrone. The results were studied and duplicates removed; 598 results were discarded, with 104 deemed suitable for inclusion.


The review underscores mephedrone's popularity despite legislative controls. Drug displacement patterns from illicit to licit were observed prior to controls, with blending of mephedrone and other substitute cathinones with street drugs thereafter. User consumptive choices are grounded in availability, perceptions of legality and safety, curiosity and perceived quality of drug outcomes within poly drug taking repertoires. Clinical reports indicate that mephedrone has high abuse potential and toxicity, with several dependence symptoms. Risk assessment, detection, diagnosis and treatment of mephedrone use are difficult due to polydrug use and associated mental health disorders.

Research limitations/implications

The review points to the need for further research into the pharmacology and toxicity of mephedrone in order to better equip clinicians with assessment, diagnosis and treatment strategies to reduce morbidity.

Practical implications

The increasingly diversified new psycho stimulant market where mephedrone is a major player poses unprecedented challenges for drug surveillance, policy, community and clinical practice.

Social implications

Stricter legislative controls including internet vendor responsibility for supply of mephedrone have been suggested, along with raising public awareness on an international level through coordinated efforts.


The last review was published in 2009 by the Psychonaut Webmapping Group. This review brings together a comprehensive new set of data sources as they relate to this drug.



Brennan, R. and Claire Van Hout, M. (2012), "Miaow miaow: a review of the new psychoactive drug mephedrone", Drugs and Alcohol Today, Vol. 12 No. 4, pp. 241-253.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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