DRUG users in Lancashire are risking their health by snorting a host of unknown white powders – after the street drug mephedrone was banned.

Eighteen months ago mephedrone was named as a controlled substance by the Government – that same month Colne teenager Rebecca Cardwell became the first recorded fatality from the drug.

Researchers have quizzed dozens of young adults in the Burnley, Chorley, Preston and Lancaster areas over the drug usage, in the wake of mephedrone, known as ‘bubble’ or ‘miaow miaow’.

And it has emerged that many were unaware of the contents and health dangers associated with their wraps of ‘bubble’, a popular choice among East Lancashire’s drug abusers.

The study was carried out by Drs Fiona Measham and Karenza Moore, of Lancaster University.

One in 10 surveyed had taken mephedrone in the past year, and one in 20 during the previous month.

Dr Measham said: “Bubble has emerged and evolved as a generic term used in the north of England to refer to any unknown white powders which are synthetic stimulants.

These white powders are known by the generic term ‘bubble’ and because their exact content is unclear they could pose a greater risk to public health.”

The researchers also discovered that Lancashire teenagers were taking ‘bubble’ alongside the likes of cocaine, amphetamines and ecstasy, dispelling theories that it served as a ‘gateway’ to other illegal substances.

Dr Moore said that the increasing popularity of ‘cheap and cheerful’ street drugs like ‘bubble’ and stimulant pills could reflect the financial pressures caused by the ongoing economic slowdown.