The drug cat – what do you need to know.
Methcathinone, otherwise known as the drug cat, is a commonly used and easily accessible, synthetic stimulant that is used recreationally in South Africa and other parts of the world (Sikk and Taba, 2015). It is a stimulant and as such, acts to elevate a persons energy levels as well as brain activity. Individuals under the influence of cat often appear to have erratic speech and behaviour (Dasgupta, 2016). It elevates an individual’s heart rate, blood pressure and increases the levels of certain chemicals in the brain (Sikk & Taba, 2015). This produces a sensation of euphoria, hyperactivity and pleasure in those under its influence (Sikk & Taba, 2015).
This synthetic stimulant was initially produced using “over the counter cold remedies” which contain high levels of ephedrine or pseudoephedrine. The final mixture often contains high levels of manganese. Although manganese is an essential trace element, exposure to high levels of it is neurotoxic and may possibly result in neurological disorders such as early onset Parkinson’s disease (Sikk and Taba, 2015).
The drug cat, suppresses an individuals’ appetite as well need for sleep and although it doesn’t remain in the human body for long, its effects can be quite damaging when taken over extended periods of time (Dasgupta, 2016). Apart from weight loss and symptoms associated with insomnia such as red eyes, chronic skin conditions and blemishes – there is evidence to suggest that the drug cat, may cause hypertension, cardiac complications, gastrointestinal disorders, kidney and liver damage as well as tooth decay (Dasgupta, 2016). Part of the reason why this drug is expelled from the body so quickly is because it is recognized as a toxin by the body’s immune system (Dasgupta, 2016). In order to maintain the high associated with cat, an individual will need to take greater doses to overcome their bodies tolerance to it (Sikk and Taba, 2015). Because cat is often sniffed or inhaled, it can cause damage to the respiratory system more specifically the nasal passages, lungs, trachea, esophagus, mouth and even the teeth (Dasgupta, 2016).
Cat is often mixed with other substances and is rarely found in its purest form and for this reason further complications other than those mentioned above are likely to occur (Dasgupta, 2016). Although the body works quickly to expel this toxin, the immune system can become overwhelmed when the body is saturated with cat. Individuals using cat often resort to using depressants in an effort to moderate the effects of cat on their minds and bodies (Dasgupta, 2016). When an individual enters this stage of the the addictive cycle, they become increasingly dependent on the substance as the withdrawals from it become excruciating and have in some cases proven to be fatal (Dasgupta, 2016). In a case in the United States, a young girl was rushed into hospital after having used cat as well as various other substances in an effort to regulate her body (Dasgupta, 2016). When attempting to stabilize her blood toxicity levels, they found her levels were too high to administer any sedatives and anti-toxins (Dasgupta, 2016). The woman died of heart failure due to prolonged cat-use which overtime had impaired her heart’s ability to function (Dasgupta, 2016).
Cat mainly acts on the brain and those who are detoxing from it, have irregular and sometimes extreme sleep cycles, appetites as well as joint pains and aches (Dasgupta, 2016). In extreme cases where individuals overdose on this drug they can slip into a coma. Sometimes overdose is fatal (Dasgupta, 2016).
Cat is a dangerous substance regardless of whether it is abused or used casually and can have long-term side-effects. If you or a loved one needs assistance with an addiction to cat – know that help is readily available. The road to recovery is not always an easy one, but getting yourself or your loved one the best possible care from the team at Crossroads Recovery Centres provides you with a map to sober, healthy living. No matter how bad things seem, there is hope, and it’s only a phone call away. If you or anyone close to you needs help with an addiction to sex, gambling, substances, alcohol or food, contact us for a free assessment.
Sikk, K., & Taba, P (2015). Methcathinone “Kitchen Chemistry” and Permanent Neurological Damage (Chapter 12, pp 257-271): International Review of Neurobiology. Academic Press. https://doi.org/10.1016/bs.irn.2015.02.002.
Dasgupta, A. (2016). Challenges in Laboratory Detection of Unusual Substance Abuse (Chapter 5, pp 163-186): Issues with Magic Mushroom, Peyote Cactus, Khat, and Solvent Abuse. Elsevier. https://doi.org/10.1016/bs.acc.2016.07.004.
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