Background/Aims: To assess whether novel psychoactive substances (NPS) displace established club drugs, supplement them or act as drugs of initiation via a study of the relationship between mephedrone, ecstasy pills, cocaine and MDMA powder amongst club-goers considered to be ‘early adopters' of psychostimulant/club drug trends. Methods: In situ surveys were conducted with 308 customers in two south London gay dance clubs across 3 weekend nights in July 2010 to assess the prevalence and patterns of self-reported use of a range of illegal drugs and NPS. Results: Mephedrone was added to existing drug repertoires amongst those surveyed and acted to supplement more established club drugs including ecstasy pills, cocaine and MDMA powder, rather than replacing or displacing those drugs. Conclusion: This survey suggests that NPS are likely to be added to drug repertoires, particularly amongst experienced users with consequent health risks for individuals and resource implications for services. This study points to a complex relationship between NPS and illegal drug availability, purity and regulatory control, one which is increasingly important to understand given the global emergence of NPS and the challenges they present to existing supply, demand and harm reduction strategies.

Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs: Consideration of the Novel Psychoactive Substances (‘Legal Highs'). London, Home Office, 2011.
European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction: Europol-EMCDDA Joint Report on a New Psychoactive Substance: 4-methylmethcathinone (Mephedrone). Lisbon, EMCDDA, 2010.
European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction: Drugs in Focus: Responding to New Psychoactive Substances. Lisbon, EMCDDA, 2011.
Matthews AJ, Bruno R: Mephedrone Use among Regular Ecstasy Consumers in Australia. EDRS Drug Trends Bulletin. Sydney, National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales, 2010.
UNODC: World Drug Report 2011. Vienna, United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime, 2011.
Hughes B, Winstock AR: Controlling new drugs under marketing regulations. Addiction 2012;107:1894-1899.
Home Office: Drug Misuse Declared: Findings from the 2011/12 British Crime Survey, England and Wales. London, Home Office, 2012.
Dargan P, Albert S, Wood D: Mephedrone use and associated adverse effects in school and college/university students before the UK legislation change. Q J Med 2010;103:875-879.
Measham F, Moore K, Østergaard J: Mephedrone, ‘bubble' and unidentified white powders: the contested identities of synthetic ‘legal highs'. Drugs Alcohol Today 2011;11:137-147.
Measham F, Wood D, Dargan P, Moore K: The rise in legal highs: prevalence and patterns in the use of illegal drugs and first and second generation ‘legal highs' with stimulant effects in south London gay dance clubs. J Substance Use 2011;16:263-272.
Wood D, Measham F, Dargan P: ‘Our favourite drug': prevalence of use and preference for mephedrone in the London night-time economy one year after control. J Subst Use 2012;17:91-97.
Winstock A, Mitcheson L, Marsden J: Mephedrone: still available and twice the price. Lancet 2010;376:1537.
Bird S: Banned drug may have saved lives, not cost them. StraightStatistics 2010, accessed 2011-02-27 (
Bird S: More insights on mephedrone from British Crime Survey. StraightStatistics 2011, accessed 2012-03-25 (
Measham F, Moore K, Newcombe R, Welch Z: Tweaking, bombing, dabbing and stockpiling: the emergence of mephedrone and the perversity of prohibition. Drugs Alcohol Today 2010;10:14-21.
Van Hout M, Brennan R: Curiosity killed the M-cat: a post-legislative study on mephedrone use in Ireland. Drugs Educ Prev Policy 2012;19:156-162.
Smith Z, Measham F, Moore K: MDMA powder, pills and crystal: the persistence of ecstasy and the poverty of policy. Drugs Alcohol Today 2009;9:13-19.
Brunt TM, Niesink RJM, van den Brink W: Impact of a transient instability of the ecstasy market on health concerns and drug use patterns in The Netherlands. Int J Drug Policy 2012;23:134-140.
Coleman K: Seizures of drugs in England and Wales, 2010/11. Home Office Statistical Bulletin 17/11. London, Home Office, 2011.
Newcombe R: Mephedrone: the Use of Mephedrone (m-cat, meow) in Middlesbrough. Manchester, Lifeline Publications and Research, 2010.
Power M: Mephedrone: the future of drug dealing. DrugLink 2009;6-7:9.
Forensic Science Service: Drugs Update: Drugs Intelligence Unit. Birmingham, Drugs Intelligence Unit, 2010, p 50.
Barr R, Pease K: Crime placement, displacement and deflection. Crime Justice 1990;12:277-318.
Eck J: The threat of crime displacement. Crim Justice Abstr 1993;253:527-546.
Guerette RT, Bowers KJ: Assessing the extent of crime displacement and diffusion of effects: a review of situational crime prevention evaluations. Criminology 2009;47:1331-1368.
Measham F, Moore K: Repertoires of distinction: exploring patterns of weekend polydrug use within local leisure scenes across the English night-time economy. Criminol Criminal Justice 2009;9:437-464.
Beddoes D, Sheikh S, Pralat R, Sloman J: The Impact of Drugs on Different Minority Groups. A Review of UK Literature. 2. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Groups. London, UKDPC, 2010.
Hoare J, Moon D: Drug Misuse Declared: Findings from the 2009/10 British Crime Survey England and Wales, Home Office Statistical Bulletin 13/10. London, Home Office, 2010.
Measham F, Aldridge J, Parker H: Dancing on Drugs: Risk, Health and Hedonism in the British Club Scene. London, Free Association Books, 2001.
Measham F, Brain K: ‘Binge' drinking, British alcohol policy and the new culture of intoxication. Crime Media Culture 2005;1:263-284.
Hughes K, Anderson Z, Morleo M, Bellis MA: Alcohol, nightlife and violence: the relative contributions of drinking before and during nights out to negative health and criminal justice outcomes. Addiction 2007;103:60-65.
Mixmag: The 2011 Drugs Survey, 2011, vol 238, pp 49-59.
Van Havere T, Lammertyn J, Vanderplasschen W, Bellis M, Rosiers J, Broekaert E: Illicit drug use in the Flemish nightlife scene between 2003 and 2009. Eur Addict Res 2012;18:153-160.
NHS Scotland: Drug Misuse Statistics Scotland 2011. Edinburgh, NHS Scotland/Information Services Division, 2012.
Winstock A, Ramsey J: Legal highs and the challenges for policy makers. Addiction 2010;105:1685-1687.
Daly M: It's official: high potency ecstasy makes a comeback. Druglink 2011, July/August, p 3.
BBC: London hospitals alerted over ‘rogue ecstasy' deaths. BBC News London. November 2011. Accessed 2012-02-24 (
Hammersley R: The dangers of banning Spice and the synthetic cannabinoids agonists (letter). Addiction 2010;105:373.
Green JA: Partying on? Life after BZP-based party pills. J NZ Med Assoc 2008;121:35-42.
Sheridan J, Butler R: ‘They're legal so they're safe, right?' What did the legal status of BZP-party pills mean to young people in New Zealand? Int J Drug Policy 2010;21:77-81.
Van Hout M, Bingham T: ‘A costly turn on': patterns of use and perceived consequences of mephedrone based head shop products amongst Irish injectors. Int J Drug Policy 2012;23:188-197.
Copyright / Drug Dosage / Disclaimer
Copyright: All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be translated into other languages, reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, microcopying, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Drug Dosage: The authors and the publisher have exerted every effort to ensure that drug selection and dosage set forth in this text are in accord with current recommendations and practice at the time of publication. However, in view of ongoing research, changes in government regulations, and the constant flow of information relating to drug therapy and drug reactions, the reader is urged to check the package insert for each drug for any changes in indications and dosage and for added warnings and precautions. This is particularly important when the recommended agent is a new and/or infrequently employed drug.
Disclaimer: The statements, opinions and data contained in this publication are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of the publishers and the editor(s). The appearance of advertisements or/and product references in the publication is not a warranty, endorsement, or approval of the products or services advertised or of their effectiveness, quality or safety. The publisher and the editor(s) disclaim responsibility for any injury to persons or property resulting from any ideas, methods, instructions or products referred to in the content or advertisements.
You do not currently have access to this content.