The Effects and Risks Associated with Synthetic Cathinones Use in Humans

Chapter
Part of the Current Topics in Neurotoxicity book series (Current Topics Neurotoxicity, volume 12)

Abstract

New psychoactive substances (NPS) have drastically modified the world drug scene. Synthetic or substituted cathinones (SCs), a popular class of NPS, are β-keto amphetamine analogues. These drugs are also known as legal highs, research chemicals, bath salts, plant food, or glass cleaner, and labeled «not for human use» or «not tested for hazards or toxicity» . However, there is a lack of epidemiological data concerning the SCs. Several factors have contributed to their increasing popularity, including their falsely legal image, their more reasonable costs, and their distribution based on the new technologies. SCs are mainly used for their stimulant properties, often serving as a replacement for others illicit stimulant drugs. The psychoactive and sympathomimetic effects of these drugs resemble those of amphetamine, methamphetamine, ecstasy, and cocaine, albeit to varying degrees. Clinical effects of SCs are individual-, dose- and route of administration-dependent. The primary effects sought by the users include euphoria, empathy, increased sexual performance, and increased sociability. Recent reports on abuse of novel synthetic cathinone derivatives call attention to the serious physical and psychological risks resulting from their consumption, thereby emphasizing the growing use of these drugs might constitute an important public health issue. Acute toxicity is the leading cause of SCs-induced fatalities. Users report a number of negative physical and psychiatric effects associated with SCs use. Cardiac, psychiatric, and neurological adverse effects are the most common reported ones requiring medical care. SCs use may also lead to violence, homicidal combative behavior, self-mutilation, coma, and death.

Keywords

New psychoactive substances Synthetic cathinones Substituted cathinones Substance abuse Substance use disorder Mephedrone Methylone MDPV α-PVP 4-MEC Adverse effects Fatalities 

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Addiction Research and Treatment CenterPaul Brousse Hospital, Paris-Sud University, INSERM U1000VillejuifFrance
  2. 2.Addiction Research and Treatment CenterPaul Brousse Hospital (AP-HP), Paris-Sud UniversityVillejuifFrance
  3. 3.CESPParisFrance

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