“OUT of control”, “violent” “prone to biting” – does this sound like a good night out to you?
But these are just some of the shocking side-effects faced by people high on party drug Bubble.
Mephedrone is rapidly replacing cocaine and ecstasy as the drug of choice by many youngsters – leaving police fearful of the potentially fatal consequences.
Bubble – as it is known on the streets locally – has been linked to paranoia, nose bleeds, hallucinations, blood circulation problems, anxiety, fits, delusions and even heart attacks.
And senior detectives today warned users it is impossible to know what potentially deadly concoction they are taking.
Those on the frontline in resort police stations and the hospital have described how people are putting themselves “at real risk” by taking the drug.
And, as part of a Gazette investigation into the impact the drug is having in Blackpool, one user spoke out about the attraction of getting high on Bubble – despite having no idea what he is taking.
When it first burst onto the scene, Mephedrone was a legal high – often labelled as “plant food” – and freely available from shops and websites.
But it was designated a Class B drug in 2010 after being linked to a number of deaths.
Despite the classification change, it is still widely available on the internet. It can also be bought for as little as £3 a bag from street dealers.
One website warns the substances it peddles are “not for human consumption”, while another claims its derivative of the drug is legal in the UK because of its chemical make-up.
Det Chief Insp Brian Quinn, from Blackpool CID, said the negative side-effects of the drug appeared to be having an impact on its popularity after the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs linked Mephedrone to 98 deaths nationally.
But he added there were still many willing to risk taking it.
He said: “People need to understand what they are taking, why they are taking it and the risks they run to themselves personally. They are not buying this from the corner shop, they are buying it from people who are criminals and just want to make a profit. They don’t care whether it’s good, bad or mixed with scouring powder. It is a controlled drug, you would not normally put something into your blood stream if you don’t know what effect it is going to have.”
In Blackpool, police said many users buy Bubble from the same criminals dealing harder drugs.
It is those dealing large quantities police specifically want to target, and one of the biggest Bubble raids in Lancashire came in the resort in January when 24kgs was seized from industrial units in the town centre.
The haul had an estimated street value of more than £120,000 and was discovered, along with mixing and packing equipment, after officers from Lancashire Police’s Serious Organised Crime Unit executed search warrants.
Police made 20 seizures of Bubble in Blackpool and Fylde between March and August this year while officers in Northern Division, which covers Wyre, recorded 31 seizures during the same period. This compares to two seizures in the Preston area.
Although officers are reluctant to be drawn on whether it is a “gateway drug” for the likes of cocaine and heroin, they say its attraction among young drug users is a concern.
Det Chief Insp Quinn added: “It is certainly more popular among the younger age group which is a concern.
“Bubble is like a poor man’s cocaine and there are more kids doing it because they can’t afford cocaine. Possibly the night-time economy is one of the reasons it has become more of an issue in Blackpool. It is seen as a recreational drug.”
Officers said Bubble is not as prolific as cannabis on Blackpool’s street, but Bonny Street police station’s custody area still sees people under the influence of the drug every night.
A study by the University of Hertfordshire and St George’s University of London found Mephedrone was specifically mentioned as being present in 59 deaths in the UK. The drug was formally included in the cause of death in 18 cases and implicitly in 10 further cases.