Synthetic cathinones, more commonly known as "bath salts," are synthetic (human-made) drugs chemically related to cathinone, a stimulant found in the khat plant. Khat is a shrub grown in East Africa and southern Arabia, and people sometimes chew its leaves for their mild stimulant effects. Synthetic variants of cathinone can be much stronger than the natural product and, in some cases, very dangerous (Baumann, 2014).
MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine), popularly known as ecstasy or, more recently, as Molly, is a synthetic, psychoactive drug that has similarities to both the stimulant amphetamine and the hallucinogen mescaline. It produces feelings of increased energy, euphoria, emotional warmth and empathy toward others, and distortions in sensory and time perception.
MDMA was initially popular among White adolescents and young adults in the nightclub scene or at “raves” (long dance parties), but the drug now affects a broader range of users and ethnicities.
An alert was recently issued in The Netherlands warning about pills with a distinctive Superman logo, sold as MDMA (also called ecstasy or Molly) but actually containing a lethal dose of another substance, PMMA (paramethoxymethylamphetamine). These pills have not been reported in the U.S., but four people in the UK are thought to have died after taking these pills.
Molly—slang for “molecular”—refers to the pure crystalline powder form of the club drug MDMA (3-4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine), which in pill form is known as ecstasy. Molly, which is usually purchased in capsules, has seen a surge in interest in the past few years, being celebrated frequently by popular music artists. MDMA in any form produces energy and euphoria in users but also may dangerously affect body temperature and cause confusion, depression, and sleep problems.
A moderate dose of MDMA, commonly known as Ecstasy or Molly, that is typically nonfatal in cool, quiet environments can be lethal in rats exposed to conditions that mimic the hot, crowded, social settings where the drug is often used by people, a study
Dr. Marilyn Huestis of NIDA’s Intramural Research Program talks about conducting research on drug effects with human subjects, developing tests to help law enforcement identify drugged drivers, and an assay to help identify children whose prenatal exposure to anti-HIV drugs may put them at risk for adverse developmental outcomes.