“Understanding ‘Monkey Dust’ in the UK: Its Effects on Behavior”

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The Growing Problem in Stoke-on-Trent

Stoke-on-Trent, a city in Central England, has gained notoriety as a hotspot for a drug known as “monkey dust,” causing rising concerns among residents. Local authorities have been investing in research to address the issue, and discussions have been underway in the UK regarding the drug’s impact on public health.

Understanding Monkey Dust

Monkey dust, also known as “zombie dust,” is a colloquial term in the UK for a stimulant drug. Comprising synthetic cathinones, similar to amphetamines, it accelerates communication between the brain and body. This relatively inexpensive drug, priced at around £20 (€23) per gram, induces effects resembling those of cocaine and MDMA. It has gained popularity due to its affordability and longer-lasting highs compared to other substances.

Impact on Users

Contrary to the myth that monkey dust turns people into zombies, it tends to make users impulsive and erratic, according to Nuno Albuquerque, an addictions counselor at the UK Addictions Treatment Centre. Users may experience feelings of enhanced abilities and increased adrenaline. The drug is also associated with side effects such as paranoia, heightened agitation, and, in some cases, violent behavior. Notably, individuals with cross-addictions have been observed using monkey dust in conjunction with other amphetamines or exhibiting sex addiction alongside its use.

The ‘Monkey Dust Epidemic’ in the UK

The surge in monkey dust’s popularity occurred between 2017 and 2018 as a more cost-effective alternative to cocaine. Stoke-on-Trent’s strategic location, serving as a transit region, has made it a prime target for drug dealers. Moreover, its status as one of the top 20% most deprived areas in the UK, according to Public Health England, has created a market for affordable drugs like monkey dust.

Addressing the Issue

Residents of Stoke-on-Trent have expressed growing frustration, with a report by Staffordshire University highlighting the drug’s significantly adverse impact on the community. The government’s new drug strategy has allocated over £5 million to Stoke-on-Trent’s city council to enhance drug and alcohol treatment. Additionally, the UK government initiated an independent review of monkey dust in May.

Currently categorized as a class B drug, supplying monkey dust is punishable by up to 14 years in prison under existing laws. However, local Conservative MP Jack Brereton has advocated for upgrading the drug to class A. Local police forces are receptive to the possibility of reclassifying synthetic cathinones, including monkey dust, from class B to class A to protect individuals from the harm associated with these substances.

Monkey Dust Beyond the UK

Monkey dust is not confined to the UK, as similar stimulants have emerged across Europe since 2013. EU member states reported seizing 30.5 tons of new psychoactive substances last year, with 87% of these substances being new synthetic cathinones. Regulating these drugs poses a challenge due to frequent alterations in their components, which producers use to evade bans on specific substances. Although there has been a common belief that monkey dust and related drugs are primarily imported from China, a new market is emerging, with several of these substances now being imported from India.

SOURCE: Ref Image from UK Addiction Treatment Center

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