cathinones is the name of a category of drugs related to the naturally occurring khat plant.1 They are stimulants, meaning that they speed up the messages between the brain and the body and have similar effects to amphetamines.
Synthetic cathinones are also part of a group of drugs known as New Psychoactive Substances (NPS). NPSs are a range of drugs that first appeared on the recreational drug market in the mid 2000s, that have been designed to mimic established illicit drugs, such as cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy and LSD. Between 2005 and 2014 more than 81 synthetic cathinone derivatives were reported to the EU Early Warning System.2
Synthetic cathinones are mostly white or brown powders but also exist in the form of small, chunky crystals. They are sometimes found as capsules and less commonly as tablets