Synthetic Cathinones

Synthetic Cathinones

Synthetic cathinones, a drug sold as (bath salts) are a group of drugs that are derived from the naturally occurring khat plant. Synthetic cathinones, a psychoactive drug affects the body by speeding up messages between the brain and the body causing similar effects to amphetamines. Studies have shown that the use of these designer drugs can cause severe psychiatric symptoms and other harmful side effects.

What are Synthetic Cathinones (Bath Salts)

Bath Salts

Synthetic cathinones (bath salts) are psychoactive drugs and synthetic stimulants that are chemically related to cathinone derivatives, that come from the khat plant, found in East Africa. The khat plant is found in East Africa and southern Arabia as a shrub, where some people eat it and chew the leaves to feel the mild stimulant effects.

Synthetic cathinone derivatives can be much more potent than a natural product due to the medicinal chemistry and clinical toxicology of these new designer drugs. Because of this, the synthetic drugs may be more dangerous than the natural drug.

Street Names

Synthetic cathinones can be found both online and in drug paraphernalia stores. Some of the common street names include:

  • Bliss
  • Cloud Nine
  • Lunar Wave
  • Vanilla Sky
  • White Lightning

Types of Synthetic Cathinones

Common names for the designer drug, synthetic cathinones (bath salts) include:

  • Mephedrone (4-MMC), M-CAT)
  • Methylone
  • Alpha-Pyrrolidinovalerophenone (alpha-PVP)
  • Bupropion
  • Methcathinone
  • MDPV
  • Buphedrone
  • Pyrovalerone

The list of synthetic cathinones (bath salts) is long: dimethylcathinone, methylone and pyrovalerone, ethylone, 3- and 4- flouromethcathinone, ethcathinone, mephedrone, butylone, methedrone, 3,4 methylenedioxypyrovalerone mdpv, among other drugs. 

New Psychoactive Substances

Public health officials are concerned about synthetic cathinones being part of a group of new psychoactive substances (NPS). New psychoactive substances (NPS) are unregulated psychoactive mind-altering synthetic compounds with no medical use or reason in the drug market. They are made to mimic the effects of controlled substances and create a “high” effect for those that use it. They are among the first synthetic cathinone to be on the market.

These chemical structures are introduced into the market and then re-introduced to hinder law enforcement efforts to monitor these synthetic derivatives. Often, synthetic cathinones (bath salts) are sold in the recreational drug market as a cheaper version of other drugs and related substances like cocaine and amphetamines. Synthetic cathinone (bath salts drug) are psychotropic substances that are structurally related to these other drugs.


Kratom is a tropical tree plant that has psychotropic (mind-altering) effects. Kratom is easy to get on the internet and is not currently considered an illegal substance. It can be found in green powder inside of packets. It may also be sold as a gum or an extract.

A new store located near us in Texas, called “Glass Kratom Vape” just recently opened. This shows that this drug is still widely available and can be extremely dangerous. It is important to know these risks to avoid serious consequences.


Flakka is a new drug that is a version of bath salts. It is also known as the zombie drug or gravel. Flakka is a drug that is part of the group of synthetic cathinones and is derived from the natural khat plant. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) states alpha-Pyrrolidinopentiophenone (abbreviated as alpha-PVP) is a synthetic cathinone which produces a catatonic-like state in some people.


Mephedrone is a group of stimulant drugs and is part of the new psychoactive substances. Mephedrone use causes people to feel similar effects to other illicit drugs that are popular. Common names are meow-meow, meph, meow, and m-cat.

Mephedrone use causes effects such as happy feelings, intense pleasure, anxiety, distorted sense of time and blurred vision. In a study on students, more than half reported having additional effects such as sexual risk-taking behavior and sexual desire.


Methylone is among the synthetic cathinones drug that consists of MDMA and the 3,4-methylenedioxy analog of methcathinone. The only structural difference of methylone regarding MDMA is the substitution of 2 hydrogen atoms by 1 oxygen atom in the position of the phenethylamine core, forming a ketone group.


Bupropion is a cathinone-derivative with a dual dopamine-norepinephrine reuptake inhibiting mechanism, which is approved for the treatment of depression and smoking cessation. Clinical awareness to the addictive potential of cathinone and cathinone-derivatives is important.

How are Synthetic Cathinones Made?

Based on their medical toxicology, pharmacological mechanisms, active pharmaceutical ingredients, and psychoactive properties, these designer drugs will fall into the following categories: (1) amphetamine-like stimulants, which include cathinones derivatives and piperazine derivatives that are sold as substitutes for “ecstasy,” (2) synthetic cannabinoids, (3) hallucinogenic/dissociative agents, and (4) opioid-like compounds.

Synthetic cathinones (bath salts) are a class of monoamine uptake inhibitors frequently found in products sold as ‘research chemicals’, ’bath salts’ or ’glass cleaner.

How Do People Use Synthetic Cathinones?

Synthetic cathinones (bath salts), a psychoactive substance is in the form of either a white or brown powders but can also be found as small chunks of crystals. Synthetic cathinones drug use comes in the form of being swallowed, snorted, or injected.

When synthetic cathinones (bath salts), are taken by oral ingestion the effects of synthetic cathinones are typically seen within 15–45 minutes. After snorting synthetic cathinones the desired effects of synthetic cathinones are reported to occur within a few minutes. The effects usually last for somewhere around 2-4 hours.

Are Synthetic Cathinones Okay for Human Consumption?

Synthetic cathinone bath salts, a designer drug, are sold in the drug market in small foil or plastic packages that are labeled “not for human consumption.” They can be in the form of a brown or white crystal-like powder. They can be named as plant food, bath salts, jewelry cleaner, or phone screen cleaner.

Plant Food?

People refer to synthetic cathinones (bath salts) as “plant food” because they are derived from the khat plant, which can be found in East Africa. When someone chews and ingests the leaves of these synthetic cathinones and effects the central nervous system causing psychoactive effects.

What is the Drug Ice?

The drug “ice” or Crystal methamphetamine (‘ice’, ice drug) is a stimulant drug, that speeds up the messages travelling between the brain and the body. It is different than the powder form of methamphetamine (speed) and tends to be stronger and more addictive. Other names for ice include shabu, crystal meth, glass, crystal, and shard.

What are Synthetic Cannabinoids?

Synthetic cannabinoids are a group of various manmade chemicals that many people use as an alternative to marijuana. Synthetic cannabinoids are also known as “spice”, “synthetic marijuana” and “K2.”

Because of the analytical toxicology of the chemicals in synthetic cannabinoids they can cause negative side effects such as vomiting, confusion, rapid heart rate, hallucinations, and agitation. The Center for Disease Control states that the health effects from using synthetic cannabinoids can be unpredictable and harmful—even life threatening.

Synthetic Cathinones in the Body

Synthetic Cathinones in the Body | La Hacienda

Although there is still not a lot of information known about synthetic cathinones (bath salts), we do know that this designer drug mephedrone can cause adverse health effects to synthetic cathinone users. A synthetic cathinone known as 3,4 methylenedioxypyrovalerone mdpv has been known to cause similar adverse effects as cocaine but can be much more potent and potentially 10 times stronger.

MDPV is the most common synthetic cathinone found in the blood and urine of patients admitted for emergency department visits after taking bath salts.

How Do Synthetic Cathinones Affect You?

Synthetic cathinones affect everyone in a different way based on the amount of the drug they take, what type of drug, and other health conditions. Much is still unknown about how the chemicals in synthetic cathinones affect the human brain. 

Raised blood pressure, heart rate and chest pain are some other adverse health effects of synthetic cathinones (bath salts). People who experience delirium from synthetic cathinones may also suffer from kidney failure, dehydration, and the breakdown of skeletal muscle tissue.

Some of the adverse effects and signs of synthetic cathinone use include:

  • Paranoia—extreme and unreasonable distrust of others
  • Hallucinations—experiencing images and sensations that appear to be real but are not.
  • Excited delirium—violent behavior and extreme agitation
  • Myocardial infarction
  • Panic attacks
  • Increased friendliness
  • Increased sex drive

Drug Addiction to Synthetic Cathinones

Like other traditional drugs, it is possible for synthetic cathinones (bath salts) use to result in drug addiction. Because of the effects of synthetic cathinones in the body, they can cause intense cravings and urges that result in drug addiction and synthetic cathinone abuse.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse users of the drug have reported that the drugs trigger uncontrollable urges and intense feelings to use the drug again. 

Along with potential for drug abuse, synthetic cathinones (bath salts) cause intense withdrawal symptoms to occur upon discontinuing drug use. These withdrawal symptoms can cause:

  • Tremors
  • Depression
  • Paranoia
  • Anxiety
  • Problems sleeping

If you or someone you know is suffering from addiction, including to synthetic cathinones (bath salts) please contact the team at La Hacienda Treatment Center. Having a problem with drugs and drug addiction can be detrimental to you and your family, and we want to be there to help.

Addiction Help at La Hacienda Treatment Center

La Hacienda Treatment Center is a drug and alcohol addiction treatment center that helps people who are suffering from use of drugs and drug addiction. Our substance abuse treatment team is highly trained and qualified to treat individuals for drug abuse.

We understand that drug addiction is a public health problem, that needs to be addressed. We want to be part of the process in helping individuals become free from drugs and/or alcohol.

If you or someone you know is suffering from a substance use disorder, including to synthetic cathinones (bath salts) please reach out to us. We treat all drugs and drug addiction and can assist individuals in moving towards a full recovery from drugs and alcohol.