Lancaster University

This is archived news from Lancaster University. You can find up-to-date stories in our current news section.

Lancaster research shows that users of ‘legal highs’ are at risk

07/13/2010 00:00:00


Dr Fiona Measham
Dr Fiona Measham

Research by Lancaster University, Liverpool John Moores and the University of Liverpool published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) has revealed that the substances, which are being touted as "legal substitutes" for mephedrone, actually contain the same substance or related chemicals.

Senior Lecturer in criminology at Lancaster University Dr Fiona Measham was part of the team who carried out the research is also the social science specialist on the ACMD which has now advised the government that the chemical naphyrone, which is sold as NRG-1, should be made a Class B drug.

The substance NRG-1, a so-called legal high and an alternative to the banned drug mephedrone , should be made illegal, the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) has said.

Mephedrone was widely sold as a "legal high" until it was banned in April following the deaths of two teenagers.

Dr Fiona Measham said: "our research has shown that users of 'legal highs' are often unaware of what chemical they are buying and may not know that the substance could be harmful and illegal.”

The researchers bought 17 drugs from 12 UK-based websites over a six-week period following mephedrone's ban.

They chemically analysed the drugs and found that most of the NRG-type products were recently banned cathinones that just carried a new label. About 70% contained mephedrone or mephedrone-related products.

The report said that NRG-1 could cause problems with the heart and blood vessels, hyperthermia, dependence and psychiatric effects.

Dr Fiona Measham: Senior Lecturer in Criminology at Lancaster University, was appointed to the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) in 2009.

In 2009, Dr Measham and Dr Karenza Moore from Lancaster University published a report which suggested that the control of cocaine and ecstasy supply contributed to the rise in popularity of drugs such as the recently banned substance mephedrone.

The paper ‘Tweaking, bombing, dabbing and stockpiling: the emergence of mephedrone and the perversity of prohibition’ published in the journal Drugs and Alcohol Today argued that this slump in supply resulted in drug users turning to unfamiliar and under-researched chemicals.