The main question that brings strangers to my blog is – does MCat show up on drug tests? I’m going to address this to the best of knowledge now, and if anyone has anything to add or knows any different, please leave a comment to inform others. There are some resources at the bottom for people wanting more information.
MCat, or mephedrone, is so called because of its chemical compound, 4-methylmethcathinone. It is just a happy coincidence that it smells like cat urine, hence sometimes being know as meow meow. Also known as mephedrone, it was originally marketed as plant food or bath salts so people could buy it without being detected, although it was never intended to be used as such. It seems to be able to be used as safely as other illicit drugs such as ecstacy. However, long-term effects are unknown, risks dramatically increased when used with other drugs, and I can say from my experience as a drugs worker that it can also be significantly, rapidly harmful to users’ mental health. It has also been described to me by more than one seasoned drug user as “more addictive than crack”. There have been various deaths linked to the drug.
In terms of drug testing, it IS now possible to test for mephedrone. It does, of course, depend on what you have actually taken – if you have bought it from a street dealer, it could be anything, and even substances bought via the Internet are not being monitored by Trading Standards and so might not be what you think you were buying. I have had loads of people tell me they have taken MCat, with widely-varying reports of the effects, and then test positive for amphetamine or methamphetamine, which have different chemical structures. I have even found a website which claims it can test for mephedrone using its methamphetamine testing kit (although I seriously doubt the validity of this). So be aware that, whatever you think you have taken, you could still flunk a drugs test.
In short, if you are being tested by your employer, it is possible that you could fail a drugs test after taking MCat. Basic testing windows for other stimulants (cocaine, amphetamine) are around two days in the bloodstream and five days in urine, so if you haven’t used any for a week you should be clear.
However, most standard workplace drug tests still do not test for MCat. It is, of course, possible that your employer is clued-up and has bought separate MCat testing kits, or has the samples sent off to the lab for detailed testing – and an article in the Welsh press this morning highlights that employers are becoming more aware of their staff using MCat – but the testing options are expensive, and my guess is your employer is just following their drugs and alcohol policy and covering their own backsides. Some drug services do now test for mephedrone, but some don’t.
If the test is via an oral swab (where a stick with cotton wool on is pressed against your gum or cheek for two minutes) then it is possible but unlikely to test for mephedrone, as, as far as I can gather, this test is only available via confirmation test (which costs about £30 per substance). Even if the lab did look for mephedrone, only the specific and original chemical compound would be detected. So in the case that the substance being used was some derivative of the original compound (such as any of those which flooded the market when mephedrone was made illegal to skirt legislation), then even if the sample was tested for MCat, it would still give a negative result. It is also possible to test for cathinone (khat), and given that mephedrone is a synthetic cathinone I thought this might also give a positive result for MCat, but on speaking to the lab this seems unlikely, as again the test only detects the specific chemical compound.
So if your employer or drugs worker is using oral fluid testing, it is unlikely but not impossible that you will give a positive result, unless they are willing to spend the money (for example, if they are testing as part of a court order). I’m not totally sure on testing windows for MCat, but given its short action and its similarity to amphetamine and other stimulants, I would hazard a guess that it only remains in the bloodstream (and so would be detectable through oral fluid testing) for a couple of days.
In terms of urine testing, again it is possible but not likely that employers will test for mephedrone. The mainstream-marketed dip-test strips or urine pots available for bulk-buying via the Internet do not test for MCat. Again, your employer could be on-the-ball, so there’s no way of ruling it out. Drugs will show up much longer in your urine than in your bloodstream, so if you have used MCat at the weekend it will probably still be present in your urine throughout your working week.
A good idea might be to get hold of your employer’s drugs and alcohol policy, and to look at your contract to see whether testing is mandatory. If possible, also find out what method of testing is used, and possibly even the company that provide the testing. (Oral swabs or urine pots will have the name of the company displayed on the side.) You can then look on the company’s website, or ring them, and ask whether they test for mephedrone and synthetic cathinones.
For more information about MCat, it might be worth having a look at these resources:
- An excellent documentary called Legally High looks at new psychoactive substances, where they come from, the problems with legislating them, and the spectrum of drug use per se.
- Really interesting Wiki page about MCat, which charts its history, its researched neurochemical effects, and seems to me to under-report the negative effects and risks.
- Frank’s generic drugs advice that slants to the negative, but also has links to help and support.
- European Monitoring Centre For Drugs’ drug profile for synthetic cathinones, including mephedrone.
- My somewhat hopeless rant about my own experiences working with MCat users as a drugs worker – lets call it an industry insight.