Synthetic cathinones are an emerging class of designer drugs abused for psychostimulant and hallucinogenic effects similar to cocaine, methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), or other amphetamines. Abuse of synthetic cathinones, frequently included in products sold as 'bath salts', became prevalent in early 2009, leading to legislative classification throughout Europe in 2010 and schedule I classification within the United States in 2011. Recent pre-clinical and clinical studies indicate that dysregulation of central monoamine systems is a principal mechanism of synthetic cathinone action and presumably underlie the behavioral effects and abuse liability associated with these drugs. This review provides insight into the development of synthetic cathinones as substances of abuse, current patterns of their abuse, known mechanisms of their action and toxicology, and the benefits and drawbacks of their classification.
Keywords: Bath salts; Designer drugs; MDPV; Mephedrone; Methylone; Stimulants; Synthetic cathinone.