What Does The Drug CAT Do To Your Brain?
Overview of CAT
Before we look at the effects of CAT on the brain, let us begin by giving a brief overview of what is it and where it comes from. Methcathinone or the drug CAT, is an addictive psychoactive substance, and abuse of this drug is rapidly increasing in South Africa. CAT use is mostly associated with the club and rave scenes. There is no medical or pharmaceutical use for this substance’ and it is mainly produced in illicit ‘CAT labs’, for recreational purposes. According to reports, there has been an increase in the use of CAT since 2010. It is often used as a substitute for other stimulants such as cocaine and ecstasy. CAT is not to be confused with the Khat plant, the leaves of which are chewed as a central nervous system stimulant.
Methcathinone is a derivative of cathinone (a substance that occurs naturally). It was first synthesized in the United States in 1928 although it was only patented in 1957. It was used to treat depression in the Soviet Union during the 30’s and 40’s. It has also been tested as a drug for weight loss, however, the side effects and the addictive nature of it, outweighed the benefits.
Effects of the drug CAT
CAT is a stimulant, that is the effect it has on the brain which causes a person to feel high. CAT increases the level of dopamine, the neurotransmitter which makes you feel good. It also stimulates the release of the stress hormone norepinephrine, which makes you more alert.
In the body, CAT can increase blood pressure and heart rate, as many other stimulants do. Using CAT a lot or over a long period of time can cause tooth decay, gum disease, and heart problems. It can also cause problems with your stomach and digestive tract, such as constipation, ulcers, pain, and tumours.
The effects of CAT on the brain and body, can last from 90 minutes to 3 hours. Users may feel depressed and irritable and have trouble eating and sleeping once it wears off.
Negative Effects of CAT include :
- Manic Behaviours
- Increased Heart Rate
- Nausea or Vomiting
- Anorexia Weight Loss
- Dental Problems
- Pulmonary Issues
People who abuse CAT typically do so for increased energy, mental alertness, or physical stimulation. These effects do occur, and they can also include mild euphoria, sensory perception changes, boosted confidence, lowered inhibitions, and increased talkativeness.
CAT’s negative effects on the brain include aggression or violence toward oneself or others, suicidal ideation, anxiety and restlessness, paranoia, manic behaviours, lowered inhibitions leading to dangerous choices, insomnia, and emotional changes during withdrawal like depression or anhedonia (an inability to take pleasure in anything).
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