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Synthetic cathinone derivatives

Published on March 8, 2024 at 8:00 / Updated on March 26, 2024 at 8:00
Synonyms The most common synonyms are:
  • Mephedrone (the most popular) and MDPV
Other street names include: 4-MMC, Bubble, Synthetic cocaine, Drone, MCATv, MDPV/mephedrone: Bath salts, Meow meow, Meph, Miaow, MM-cat, Plant food.MDPV in tablet form is also known as speed or ecstasy.
Classification Designer drug. Stimulant and disruptor:
  • Agent that causes users to see, hear or feel things that do not exist, while stimulating mental functions and increasing the brain's overall alertness.
Visual description
  • MDPV/mephedrone: Crystals or crystalline powder that is usually white.
  • MDPV: tablets that come in various shapes, colours and stamped with a variety of logos.
  • Bath salts is a type of designer drug that contains one or more chemicals. MDPV and mephedrone are the most common. They should not however, be confused with traditional bath salts.
Mechanism of action
  • Cathinone is the main psychoactive alkaloid found in khat leaves (Catha edulis), a shrub native to Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.
  • Cathinone resembles amphetamine in chemical structure but is less potent.
  • The potency of designer drugs varies.
Routes of administration
  • Snorted and ingested (the most common routes) and injected (rare). Routes vary depending on the drug.

Effects sought out by the user

  • Increased energy
  • Increased sex drive
  • Increased sociability and openness
  • Alertness
  • Arousal
  • Euphoria

Common toxic effects

The effects are similar to those of amphetamines, but are less potent:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Chest pain
  • Confusion
  • Dilated pupils
  • Erratic behaviour
  • Excessive sweating
  • Hallucinations
  • Headache
  • Hypertension
  • Insomnia
  • Irritation and local burns (nose, mouth, pharynx)
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Reduced appetite
  • Skin discoloration (cold and bluish extremities)
  • Tachycardia (increased heart rate)
  • Teeth grinding

Overdose effects

  • Convulsions
  • Death
  • Extreme violence (aggression)
  • Panic attacks
  • Paranoia
  • Skin discoloration (cold and bluish extremities)
  • Toxic psychosis

Effects associated with chronic use

The following effects may occur as a result of regular use and may also occur following initial use:

  • Depression
  • Erratic, strange or violent behaviour
  • Insomnia
  • Mood swings
  • Muscle damage
  • Suicide
  • Uneasiness
  • kidney damage

Tolerance (need to increase the dose to feel the same effect)

Some users reported having to increase their dose or the frequency of administration to reduce their cravings.




Few or no symptoms (but little is known about the drug). Some users have reported feeling depressed and anxious after quitting.

Onset and duration of action
Route of administrationOnset of actionDuration of action
SnortedAbout 2 to 15 minutes 2 to 4 hours approximately
A 2nd phase can occur and last 24 to 48 hours
IngestedAbout 45 minutes 

Intoxication management

  • No antidote available.
  • Treatment is mainly symptomatic.
Many different street drugs are sold under the same name. Furthermore, nothing guarantees the quantity, purity or even the content of a street drug in spite of the fact that it may, in some cases, look like medication.

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