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What is Naphyrone?
Naphyrone, a white crystalline powder often sold under brand names like NRG-1 and Energy1, is a stimulant drug with effects similar to recently controlled drugs like mephedrone. This drug is chemically related to pyrovalerone which used to be prescribed to treat lethargy and fatigue, but was discontinued because of concerns over potential for misuse. Pyrovalerone is already a Class C drug.
Prevalence and use
As with all the new drugs which have recently come onto the market, there are no figures for the numbers of users, although on the basis of internet search data, it seems that there has been a spike of interest in the drug since mephedrone was controlled.
Naphyrone has been selling online for about £12 – £15 a gram – and up to now marketed under false claims that it is ‘plant food’, ‘pond cleaner’ etc in order to circumvent various controls on medicines.
The drug is consumed either by sniffing the powder or swallowing it wrapped in a cigarette paper, a technique known as ‘bombing’.
Head shops and online legal high sellers often claim that naphyrone is the main ingredient in products labelled as NRG1 – one of the first ‘legal highs’ to be marketed as a ‘new legal alternative’ to mephedrone. However, separate tests of NRG1 products carried out by police, academics and drug user forums in summer 2010 found that the majority of NRG1 batches actually contained a series of recently banned Class B drugs including mephedrone and MDPV.
On 7 July 2010, the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) recommended that the government should control naphyrone as a Class B drug under the Misuse of Drug Act, in line with mephedrone and similar stimulant drugs including amphetamine.
On 23 July 2010, legislation was passed in parliament that made Naphyrone a Class B drug in line with the ACMD’s recommendation. As a result, maximum penalties for possession are 5 years imprisonment plus a fine and for supply are 14 years imprisonment and a fine.
The drug is more toxic than chemically similar drugs like mephedrone – in other words, a user could overdose on this drug more easily. This appears to be recognised by some sellers who recommend users take far smaller doses than when using say mephedrone or ecstasy.
As with all drugs of this sort, the main health risks are associated with the heart and its associated systems. Users also run the risk of amphetamine-like psychosis and dependence. On internet sites where users exchange information on drug effects, there have been warnings about psychosis, the length of time for effects to wear off and the general risks for users in thinking this drug is just like mephedrone when in fact the effects are more acute.