A FILM depicting the devastating effect of mephedrone, or "miaow miaow", on Valleys communities had its world premiere at Brynmawr's Market Hall cinema tonight.
Starring well known faces Darren Evans, 24, who plays "Danny Two Hats" in My Mad Fat Diary and Newport's Gareth David Lloyd, who played Ianto in Torchwood, the film tells the story of a drug dealer who recruits a younger apprentice to push mephedrone, marketing at teenagers.
Directed by Welsh BAFTA winner Peter Watkins-Hughes, "The Good Drug Dealer" comes from research of real trends in Wales. It ends in tragedy as the drugs industry claims the lives of both its dealers. Mr Watkins-Hughes interviewed local dealers, drug users and drug workers before working on the hour long film, which will be available to schools as part of PSE lessons.
He described visiting a class of twelve children fourteen and under, and ten of them saying they had tried mephedrone, which was made illegal last year. The use of the drug in Gwent was investigated in a special series of articles in the Argus in 2013.
Mr Watkins-Hughes, from Brynmawr, said: "The reality is it's cheaper and easier for a young person to source drugs, particularly miao miaow, than to get drunk with alcohol. It's an epidemic sweeping South Wales and nobody wants to talk about it."
Jack Sexton, 20, from Sirhowy, says he was one of the first people to start dealing mephedrone in Tredegar when he was 16, selling it for almost two years. He described becoming a "recluse weirdo" who didn't want to go outside and said he tried to kill himself several times. Now clean of the drug he says it "ruined" his life and is now urging others to avoid the drug.
Darren Evans, from Tredegar, who plays 16 year old dealer Spacey in the film, described seeing the effects first-hand: "I know some boys I was in school with and they're not the same boys now. It's hard to describe. From what I have seen it's more of a mental thing. They're just gone, don't know where they're going, who they even are.
"Everybody knows the places you can go to get a fix. It's like popping down to your local baker to get something.
"I always think, if I can at least make one person sit up and take notice then I'll think it's a good job well done."
Gareth David Lloyd, 32, plays experienced dealer Owen in the film. He said: "Kids as young as ten and eleven are being sold it on street corners. Being a father of two, that terrifies me."
The film was funded by donations after local young people came to councillors with concerns. Councillor Haydn Trollope estimates it cost around £20,000, with £5,000 of this from the Gwent Police and Crime Commissioner's Partnership Fund.
Cllr Trollope launched the project alongside two other Blaenau Gwent councillors from Tredegar. have also been driving the project, and initially set up a multi-agency group to look at the impact of synthetic drugs in local communities and how these issues can be addressed.
The film comes off the back of a campaign by former Tredegar Comprehensive teacher Jeff O'Reilly, who campaigned to get meow meow (also known as mkat) banned as a legal high.
Any proceeds from the film will be re-invested to local charity PACE (People and Communities Engaged).
The Good Drug Dealer premiered at Brynmawr's Market Hall Cinema.