Cathinones

Compound: Various such as: 4-methylmethcathinone (4-MMC/mephedrone), dimethylpentylone, 3-chloromethcathinone, 4-chloromethcathinone (4-CMC), Eutylone, Methylone, Pentylone, MDPV, Methedrone and Pyrovalerone to name a few.
Other names: Bath Salts, Cathinone, M-CAT, Meow, Novel Psychoactive Substance (NSP), Research Chemical (RC)

 

Cathinone is a stimulant drug found in the leaves of khat (Catha edulis) which are chewed in Africa and the Middle East for their stimulant effects. Cathinones were synthesized in the 1920s, and have been used in medicine in the form of bupropion, a cathinone derivate, which is used to treat depression and for smoking cessation. Synthetic cathinones are commonly referred to as “bath salts” since they have been sold as powders disguised as bath salts to evade detection. Cathinones are a diverse group of drugs in terms of chemical structures, effects, and toxicity. The most widely known cathinone is mephedrone (also known as 4-methylmethcathinone, 4-MMC, drone, M-CAT, or meow), which is a stimulant and empathogenic drug with effects similar to MDMA. Other cathinones include methylone, MDPV (which has effects more like cocaine), and 3-MMC, dipentylone (which has effects more like amphetamines). These novel psychoactive substances (NPSs) are commonly referred to as research chemicals (RCs) or designer drugs. The subjective effects, dosages, and toxicity of these novel cathinones have not been researched or widely reported by users.

 

 

Know Your Body & Mind — ‘Set’

Know Your Environment — ‘Setting’

Know Your Drug — Practice Harm Reduction

ADMINISTRATION

Most commonly swallowed but can be snorted, injected or shelved.

DURATION OF EFFECTS

Cathinones are a broad class of drugs and small differences in chemical structure can lead to large differences in subjective effects, dosage, and toxicity. Additionally, the effects of many novel cathinones have not been well documented.

Snorted (Mephedrone)
Total duration: 1 – 3 hours
Onset: 5 – 10 minutes
Peak: 15 – 30 minutes
After-effects: 2-4 hours

Swallowed (Mephedrone)
Total Duration: 2 – 5 hours
Onset: 15 – 45 minutes
Peak:
15 – 30 minutes
After-effects: 2-4 hours

Swallowed/Snorted (3-MMC)
Total duration: 4 -7 hours

Swallowed/Snorted (Pentylone)
Total Duration: 3 – 4 hours
Some reports have also indicated effects lasting for several days at high doses.

EFFECTS

Cathinone effects vary and many have not been well documented. Effects also vary from person to person. They are sometimes categorised according to the other drugs they are similar to.
For example:

  • “MDMA-like cathinones” include mephedrone and methylone.
  • “Methamphetamine-like cathinones” include cathinone, methcathinone and possibly 3-MMC.
  • “Cocaine-like cathinones” include MDPV and pyrovalerone.

Check out our table below that has listed the potential effects of mephedrone, an “MDMA-like cathinone”, can include:

SAFER DOSING

The dosage varies between cathinones, with some being significantly more potent than others. Dosages can also vary between individuals, so it’s important to start at a low dose and wait before redosing cathinones (start low and go slow). Pentylone is significantly more potent than mephedrone, dipentylone may be as potent or even more potent than pentylone. People who take dipentylone or pentylone thinking it is MDMA, and therefore take the average dose of MDMA (75-125 mg), may be at a greatly increased risk of overdose. It is therefore important to test it before you take it and to accurately weigh out your doses.

The dosages for two cathinones are listed below.

The following is a rough dosage guide for oral mephedrone (4-MMC):

Low – 50-100 mg

Medium – 100-200 mg

Strong – 150-300 mg

Heavy/ possible overdose – 300+ mg

The following is a rough dosage guide for snorted mephedrone (4-MMC):

Low– 15-25 mg

Medium – 20-80 mg

Strong – 75-125 mg

Heavy/possible overdose – 125+ mg

The following is a rough dosage guide for oral pentylone:

Low – 10-20 mg

Medium – 20-40 mg

Strong – 40-80 mg

DRUG TESTS

Roadside Police: Roadside saliva tests do not look for cathinones however other substances can be detected that might have been cut into your them such as amphetamines. It is illegal to drive under the influence of any illicit drugs, including speed and any driver may be subject to a roadside behavioural impairment test. Wait at least 48 hours before driving.

‘Pill Testing’/Drug Checking: Lab-quality testing is the best option and is available in Canberra (ACT) and soon in Brisbane & Gold Coast (QLD). Recommended reagents are: Marquis, Froehde, Simon’s, Zimmermann and Morris. These reagents help identify Mephedrone (4-MMC) or Methedrone (3-MMC) and CMC from eutylone, cyputylone, dipentylone, hexen, a-PHiP, a-PVP and other cathinones.

Physical effects

  • Decreased appetite.
  • Facial flushing, chills, and goosebumps.
  • Changes in body temperature.
  • Sweating.
  • Increased heartrate and blood pressure.
  • Dilated pupils.
  • Jaw clenching, chewing and teeth grinding.
  • Muscle twitching.
  • Involuntary eye jiggling (nystagmus).
  • Dizziness, light-headedness, and vertigo.

Emotional effects

  • Stimulation.
  • Euphoria, mood lift.
  • Feelings of empathy, connectedness, and openness.

Psychological effects

  • Increase in sociability and desire to talk with others.
  • Memory problems.
  • Insomnia.
  • Compulsion to take more when coming down.

SAFER USING

  • Start with a small amount as you don’t know how strong it will be.
  • Remember to eat well then wait 20-30 minutes before using.
  • Be aware of overheating and try to cool down & chill out regularly.
  • Remember to keep your fluids up but don’t drink too much – 1 cup of water (250ml) p/h  when resting & up to 500ml p/h when dancing or active.

SNORTING

  • Crush the powder so there’s no crystals (sparkles can cause little cuts).
  • Snort water before and after to avoid damaging the protective lining in your nose 
  • Use your own clean straw/spoon for snorting to prevent the risk of infection, ‘Snorter’ warts (HPV), or blood borne virus transmission  (‘BBV’ e.g. hepatitis C) via microscopic amounts of blood
  • Do not use money – it is covered in bacteria. 
  • Repeated snorting can damage the membranes of the nose leading to possible permanent damage to the septum (the middle bit). It can lead to frequent nosebleeds and runny nose, loss of smell, and problems swallowing
  • Switch nostrils regularly and give your nose a break.

ORALLY

  • Ingesting amphetamines results in slightly different effects to snorting or injecting. If taken as a ‘parachute” (wrapping a dose in a cigarette paper) the effects take longer to feel and the experience will last longer. You can also break the pills to have lower doses and swallow with water.
  • Gumming is another less common way of doing it. A small amount is applied on the inside of the lips or gum. This can damage your gums and lips.

SHELVING (dry)/ PLUGGING (wet mix)

  • Use lubrication to avoid tearing the skin
  • Use a condom or latex/vinyl glove to avoid internal scratches
  • Wash your hands before and after using
  • Find a discreet and safe place to do it
  • Dispose of used condom / glove responsibly.

INJECTING

  • Avoid Blood Borne Viruses ‘BBVs’ (eg. Hepatitis C, HIV) by using new & sterile syringes & equipment.
  • Use sterile water to mix up.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly before and after, you can also use an alcohol swab to clean your fingertips.
  • Alcohol wipes can reduce the risk of skin infections if they are used correctly. For maximum effect, swab once, in one direction on the injection site, and leave to dry naturally.
  • Dispose of syringes & equipment responsibly in a yellow disposal bin, all NSPs have bins available.

OVERDOSE EFFECTS

  • Sweating.
  • Fast heartrate.
  • High blood pressure.
  • High body temperature.
  • Fast breathing.
  • Hyperactivity.
  • Dilated pupils.
  • Agitation and aggression.
  • Hallucinations, delusions, and psychosis.
  • Increased reflexes.
  • Insomnia.
  • Seizures.

“MDMA-like cathinones” including mephedrone may cause serotonin syndrome when taken at high doses or combined with other drugs that increase serotonin, including MDMA. Dipentylone has been associated with multiple deaths in the US, most of which were due to toxicity from ingesting dipentylone alongside other drugs as well as co-occurring medical conditions.

SELF CARE

  • After 2-3 hours remember to keep your electrolytes up
  • If you’re finding it hard to eat try a smoothie or a soup
  • Sleep! Or lay down and cover your eyes during a 24-hour period. Many of the negative effects of stimulants are caused by sleep deprivation.
  • Factor in and plan recovery time before you need to do another activity.

SETTING

Environmental / Weather: As a stimulant, stimulants can increase your body’s temperature and breathing rate, and make it more difficult for your body to regulate itself. Taking stimulants in hot indoor/outdoor environments can be deadly or lead to multi-organ failure.   

It is not recommended to use cathinones if you have or are at risk of:

  • Heart Problems
  • Anxiety
  • Psychotic disorders
  • Schizophrenia
  • Heart problems
  • Pregnant/ Breastfeeding

Drug combinations

Polydrug use has many possible outcomes. What could be fun for one person could be dangerous for another. We do not endorse any of these combinations and recommend you proceed with caution.

Unsafe combinations

  • SSRIs & MAOIs – can cause serotonin syndrome, which can be fatal
  • MDMA – can cause serotonin syndrome, which can be fatal
  • Tramadol – together both increase the risk of seizures

Cautionary combinations

  • 2C-x – The anxiogenic and focusing effects of stimulants increase the chance of unpleasant thought loops. The combination is generally uneccessary because of the stimulating effects of psychedelics. Combination of the stimulating effects may be uncomfortable.
  • Alcohol – Drinking on stimulants is risky because the sedative effects of the alcohol are reduced, and these are what the body uses to gauge drunkenness. This typically leads to excessive drinking with greatly reduced inhibitions, high risk of liver damage and increased dehydration.
  • Cocaine – Cocaine blocks some of the desirable effects of ‘MDMA like effects’ while increasing the risk of heart attack. Combining stimulants will also increase strain on the heart. It is not generally worth it as cocaine has a mild blocking effect on dopamine releasers.
  • Cannabis – Stimulants increase anxiety levels and the risk of thought loops which can lead to negative experiences.
  • Opioids – Stimulants increase respiration rate allowing a higher dose of opiates. If the stimulant wears off first then the opiate may overcome the person and cause respiratory arrest.

Low risk effects

Check out the TripSit drug combinations chart here for info on other combinations.

Call 000 if experiencing adverse effects, feel unwell or concerned in any way

Disclaimer

This educational resource has been developed collaboratively by healthcare workers and people who use drugs for their peers and the wider community. The role of Hi-Ground is to provide practical, evidence-based, unbiased information to assist you to make educated choices and to promote harm reduction, community care, and wellbeing. In an unregulated market it’s impossible to know the purity or dose of any substance. Taking drugs from an unregulated market carries its own risk, and you can educate yourself and practice harm reduction to reduce this risk.

Knowledge is power.

This resource is produced by DanceWize & Hi-Ground