Synthetic cathinones are more commonly known as bath salts. They are man-made stimulants chemically related to cathinone which is a compound found in khat plants. The khat plant grows in the Eastern parts of Africa and the southern Arabia area. In these areas, the leaves of the khat plant are chewed by many for the mild stimulant effects one can experience from it. Man-made cathinones can be more potent than the natural product and in some cases considered dangerous especially when abused (1).


Synthetic cathinones or ‘speed’ is a broad term encompassing a number of drugs that are popular with young people for the ease of purchasing and use. The name ‘speed’ has become synonymous with the ‘coke’ of today. It has been used as a ‘recreational’ drug and is available in bars, nightclubs, online drug stores, and from dealers on the street. This has not limited the appeal of the drug as it is also used by those trying to get high, as a way of getting themselves high without the jitters of drug withdrawal and without the serious health consequences of using meth, cocaine, and heroin. Unfortunately, synthetic cathinones can be just as destructive as other drugs once abused; this article will look at some common dangers associated with using synthetic cathinones (2).

The major problem with synthetic cathinones, especially when used over a long period of time, is that they can produce a range of adverse effects in users. They have been known to cause nervousness, chest pain, agitation, anxiety, depression, hallucinations, delusions, psychosis, sexual dysfunction, cardiovascular collapse, liver disease, and respiratory arrest. These side effects can range from mild to very severe and they can occur in either the short or long term. The most common adverse effects occur in users who abuse the drug often or for prolonged periods of time (3).

One of the most dangerous side effects produced by the use of synthetic cathinones is delirium. Delirium is a mental illness that affects the coordination and motor abilities of the individual. The disease is extremely dangerous and has a very high fatality rate. It is known to be one of the most fatal drug-induced illnesses in America and over 1% of accidental deaths involve the use of delirium.

Another effect produced by the use of synthetic cathinones is hallucinations and paranoia. Some of the more common symptoms associated with agitated delirium are vision disturbances, hearing difficulties, tingling and numbness, and heart palpitations. If the user has a history of hallucination, it is likely that he will experience some or all of these symptoms while using the drug. Some users become so paranoid that they believe their family, friends, and themselves are evil and planning to poison them and eliminate them from the face of the earth (4).

Other Synthetic Cathinones

Other common synthetic cathinones include ephedrine, speed, meth, and sniffles. Mephedrone is usually purchased in the form of a powdered drug in the form of a pill or a spray. I’m sure you have heard of parties where people get together and rollups and do ephedrine. This is one form of recreational drug that is widely used throughout the United States and Europe.

Speed has been popular as well. It is an easy-to-produce stimulant which can be found in powder, liquid, or pill form. It is often taken in large doses over a long period of time. This drug was the first synthetic cathinones available on the market and is also often referred to as “bath salts”. Bath salts are highly concentrated plant food products that are sold as a cheap way to experience the benefits of marijuana without having to ingest it (5).


What makes these particular drugs dangerous is that their effects quickly wear off. The reason being that the human body quickly builds up a tolerance to the drug. This means that after only a short period of time users begin to require higher dosages to achieve the same effects. Because synthetic cathinones produce effects similar to those of marijuana they have earned themselves a controversial name but are still legal in many states.

Despite their negative reputation, the sale of synthetic cathinones is not something to be overlooked. These are new psychoactive substances on the market that are being abused by users just looking for a cheap high. They may have no real health risks but can easily cause all sorts of problems with a person’s liver, kidneys, heart, and brain. Before purchasing these kinds of drugs it is wise to do research into their side effects, risks, and addiction potential.