The chemical, cathinone, is a naturally occurring stimulant drug found in the plant, khat
- Magic Crystals
- Monkey Dust
What does it look like?
Most cathinones are found as either a fine white, off-white or yellowish powder, but some can be brown in colour.
Mephedrone is a synthetic cathinone.
Cathinones were originally sold over the internet as ‘legal’ alternative to drugs like speed, ecstasy and cocaine. To avoid trouble with the police, sellers marked the cathinones they were selling as not for human consumption, and sold them as plant food or bath salts.
Cathinones are usually snorted like cocaine or wrapped in paper and swallowed (‘bombed’). They can also be found as capsules and pills and can be smoked.
In rare cases, cathinones have been injected. Injecting, or sharing injecting paraphernalia, runs the risk of the person injecting catching or spreading a blood-borne virus, such as HIV or hepatitis C. There is also the risk that veins may be damaged and an abscess or clot may develop.
How does it make you feel?
Cathinones can cause feelings of euphoria and empathy as well as increasing alertness and talkativeness. In a situation of only recently-emerging evidence on what are the exact effects and risks each of the different cathinones, it is accepted that they broadly have a balance of effects similar to amphetamines (speed) and to MDMA (ecstasy).
Cathinones are ‘cousins’ of the amphetamine family of drugs, which includes amphetamine itself (speed) and MDMA (ecstasy), and which have similar effects.
Cathinones are the family of related chemicals, including cathinone and many synthetically produced chemicals, like mephedrone, methylone (M1) and MDPV.
The cathinones’ effects are similar to amphetamines (speed) and MDMA (ecstasy), producing feelings of euphoria and empathy as well as increasing alertness and talkativeness.
The negative effects of the cathinone family are also therefore considered to be similar to those of amphetamines and MDMA.
How long the effects last and the drug stays in your system depends on how much you’ve taken, your size and what other drugs you may have also taken.
Physical health risks
Taking cathinones does involve risks. Here’s what they could do to you:
- They risk over-stimulating the heart and circulation and damaging the heart.
- They risk over-stimulating the nervous system and causing fits.
- Many cathinones are still new and little is known about them, so the risks from using them are unpredictable.
Mental health risks
- They can make you anxious and paranoid.
- They can reduced inhibitions, which can lead to risky behaviours such as unsafe sex, and accidents.
What is cathinones cut with?
As with all drugs you can never be sure of what you’re buying and how pure it is. Sometimes one cathinone is mixed with another cathinone and/or caffeine.
Is it dangerous to mix with other drugs?
You increase the risk if you combine alcohol with any substance that causes a 'high', including cathinones, and this includes the risk of coma and death.
Can you get addicted?
Yes. Reports suggest that cathinones can create a state of psychological dependence and can be compulsive to use. This compulsive re-dosing may itself lead to increased health harms.
The most well know cathinone is mephedrone and users have reported that once they have started a session, they can find it very difficult to stop until they’ve used their entire supply.
This is a Class B drug, which means it’s illegal to have for yourself, give away or sell.
Possession can get you up to 5 years in prison, an unlimited fine or both.
Supplying someone else, even your friends, can get you up to 14 years in prison, an unlimited fine or both.
Like drink-driving, driving when high is dangerous and illegal. If you’re caught driving under the influence, you may receive a heavy fine, driving ban, or prison sentence.
If the police catch people supplying illegal drugs in a home, club, bar or hostel, they can potentially prosecute the landlord, club owner or any other person concerned in the management of the premises.
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Help and advice
What to do in an emergency
If you or someone else needs urgent help after taking drugs or drinking, call 999 for an ambulance. Tell the crew everything you know. It could save their life.What else to do in an emergency