This large group of new psychoactive substances usually come as a pill, capsule or whitish powder or crystal. They are generally stimulants. There is often little evidence about short or long term effects.
Be advised that these substances are being mis-sold as MDMA (as a pill, capsule or powder) or cocaine which greatly increases the risk of overdose. Common synthetic cathinones include N-ethylpentalone, mephedrone, methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), methylone, mexedrone, and Alpha PVP..
The effects and toxicity of each cathinone are distinct but mostly have similar effects to MDMA or methamphetamine. However, a lower active dose compared to traditional drugs increase the risk of overdose. Paranoia and anxiety are more common. People sometimes say that many of these drugs can "drop you" suddenly whereby the pleasant feelings end abruptly with unpleasant comedown feelings starting too soon.
The comedown from cathinones depends on what cathinone you took and how much. Symptoms include anxiety, low mood, difficulty sleeping, irritability and difficulty concentrating. Some of these feelings continue after the drug has worn off and can last two to four days.
If someone appears unconscious or is in distress after taking a synthetic cathinone they need your help.
If they're responsive, do not leave them alone and listen to what they say. Don't force them to do anything they don't want to do.
Always call 111 for an ambulance if someone:
Seek help to manage more serious withdrawal symptoms such as:
Synthetic cathinoes have resulted in a number of New Zealanders experiencing life threatening reactions including serious psychological distress requiring hospitalisation.
You could have a substance use disorder if you are:
If you decide to stop or cut back, you are likely to experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. It can be very difficult stopping because withdrawal can come on very quickly. Talk to a trusted friend or family member about your plan and ask them to look out for you and support you.
Tips for cutting down include buying less so you use less, delaying your first session of the day, or using a smaller amount than usual.
Back to top