Legal highs almost killed me

When M-Cat was made illegal, Donna* decided to buy a different legal high online – thinking it must be safe. She tells The Mix how this decision almost killed her.

True Stories

woman against wall looking drunk with head in hands

As I heaved into the toilet, it felt like my body was trying to reject my organs. I’d been vomiting for hours. Nothing but bile was coming up, but I was too sick to care. I was weak, cold and hoped the ambulance would get here in time. I wasn’t ready to die in a club toilet.

Trying M-Cat for the first time

Since moving to London I enjoyed clubbing with my friends. Every now and then I would take a bomb of MDMA from a mate, but I didn’t want to jeopardise my job as a sales assistant so I never bought any myself. It made me rather cautious and I think it irritated the group. That’s why I found out about legal highs.

The first time I bought M-Cat, it was advertised as “air freshener” online. I read lots of reviews to make sure it was safe. The white powder turned up at my doorstep and it only cost me ?20. I could hardly believe my luck. I had found a door-to-door, reasonably priced drug service and it was all completely legal! My friends and I tried it in the toilets of one of our favourite nightclubs, giggling as we sniffed the white powder through a five-pound note. Within minutes I felt a rush, similar to the feeling of MDMA. We spent all night dancing and grinding our teeth. I felt safe and invincible. I’d found a drug that was as good as its illegal contenders and there were no consequences…so I thought.

Turning illegal

Buying M-Cat had become a weekly ritual. I would normally have at least half a gram on a night out. The rush gave me confidence and turned average evenings into all-night adventures. However, when two boys were reported to die from M-Cat everything started to change.

My friends and I weren’t too scared as we’d been snorting it for nearly a year now and nothing bad had happened. But, within months, the government made it illegal. I was frustrated. My legal high ticket was now invalid. I searched online for a replacement and found a white powder advertised as “plant feed”. The site reassured that the side-effects were similar to M-Cat and the chemical structure was adapted so it was not illegal in the UK. I took my chances and clicked on the overnight delivery button.

Something’s not right

The next day I received the “plant feed” through the post. It looked and smelled the same as M-Cat and I felt a sense of relief. Once again my friends and I started the ritual in the club toilets, huffing up greedy lines of the powder. We were in agreement that it tasted bitter and left a nasty aftertaste. But we didn’t let it bother us. We were just excited to get the night going. On the dance floor I didn’t have that familiar rush. My friends looked like they were having a great time. Why didn’t I feel the same?

I decided the new drug wasn’t as strong. I went to the toilet, pulled out the wrap and poured out two hefty lines onto my passport. Surely this would get me in a better mood. I sniffed them both up, one after the other and the drip went straight to the back of my throat. It hit me immediately but instead of feeling great, I started to feel shaky and sick. Within minutes I was vomiting white foam and vodka tonic.

Feeling sick

The next few hours were a blur. I could not stop vomiting. Every ten minutes or so I heaved over the bowl, with nothing but white foam or air coming out. My mouth completely dried up and I shivered with a fever. I was absolutely terrified. I didn’t want to die here in a club toilet. What would my family think?

At midnight I found the strength to text one of my friends. She charged into the toilets and the look on her face proved I was a mess. I couldn’t get the words out to explain. The only thing I could do was purge over the toilet. I was in absolute agony and felt dizzy and cold. I was scared yet I did not have the energy to help myself. Luckily my friend called an ambulance straight away.

Going to the hospital

I was rushed to hospital in an ambulance and taken straight in for tests. The doctor told me I was suffering from dehydration and I was put on a drip. By now the repercussions of what I had done to myself were kicking in. The doctor explained that the substance was a stimulant and drinking alcohol with it had made me even more dehydrated. Taking so much of the chemical in one go had put serious strain on my body. If I left it much longer I could have passed out and been left for dead in the toilets. How could I have been so stupid?

I took the first half of the week off work to recover. I was still weak from vomiting and loosing so much body fluid. I spent the time thinking over what I had done. I realised that while I had not had any bad experiences with M-Cat, I had been taking a risk by purchasing legal highs online. Who knew what chemicals were being used? I was betting my life away with each gram. I felt guilty to myself for taking such a risk.

Lesson learned

Going into hospital was a huge wake up call. I realise now that by buying legal highs you are putting your life in someone else’s hands. I still enjoy clubbing with my friends, but now we just stick to a few drinks for a bit of fun. Legal or not legal, my time with drugs is over. Putting chemicals of any kind into your body poses a risk that is just not worth taking.

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legal highs

By Daisy Phillipson

Updated on 29-Sep-2015