Any of a family of compounds–e.g., 3,4-methylenedioxy- pyrovalerone–MDPV, 4-methylmethcathinone–mephedrone, and 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylcathinone–methylone, all of which are related to naturally occurring cathinones derived from the khat plant—Catha edulis and structurally similar to amphetamines.
Synthetic cathinones have been formally marketed as bath salts, plant food and other innocuous products, allowing them to be sold over the counter and until recently, escape the FDA’s ability to regulate what
is informally billed as “legal cocaine” or “poor man’s cocaine”.
The term bath salts has been (incorrectly) used interchangeably with synthetic cathinones; (illicit) bath salts include substituted amphetamines and substituted phenethylamines.
Epidemiology Abuse of synthetic cathinones led to nearly 6000 calls to poison centres in the US in 2011.
Route of ingestion Parenteral, intranasal, oral
Desired effects Euphoria, elevated mood, increased alertness, allegedly aphrodisiac
Adverse effects Tachycardia, hypertension, hyperthermia, profuse sweating, seizures, automatisms, mydriasis, paranoia, irritability, anxiety, suicidal ideation, suicide, serotonergic syndrome, and kidney damage due to rhabdomyolysis, ischaemia, hypoperfusion. Over half of users studied had neurologic, cardiovascular, and psychological effects.
Legal status Synthetic cathinones were among the 31 substances banned in US President Obama’s 2012 antidrug bill. However, kitchen chemists have already produced newer agents that escape detection, including halogenated compounds, which are increasingly popular “bath salts”.
Synonym Bath salts