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Last updated : May 9, 2019
Due to the lack of formal research about the use and effects of ethylone, much of the information in this fact sheet has been informed by research on synthetic cathinones (a category of drugs that includes ethylone).
Ethylone is a synthetic cathinone which is a category of drugs related to the naturally occurring khat plant.1 Ethylone is also an empathogen, which means it increases an individual’s feeling of empathy and compassion toward others.
Its effects are similar to other stimulant and empathogenic drugs such as MDMA, cocaine and amphetamines.2
The chemical structure of synthetic cathinones continue to change, this is thought to be an attempt to avoid existing legal regulations.1 Ethylone began to appear in 2011 and is a newer form of another synthetic cathinone called methylone1 which first emerged in the early 2000s.3
Bath Salts, plant food, research chemicals, bk-MDEA, MDEC, and 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-ethylcathinone.1
Research on how ethylone is used is limited, however it is reported that synthetic cathinones are most commonly snorted or swallowed. 4 Injecting, smoking, inhaling, as well as administering the drugs anally have also been reported.4
There is no safe level of drug use. Use of any drug always carries some risk. It’s important to be careful when taking any type of drug.
Ethylone can affect everyone differently, based on:
Depending on the amount taken, the following effects may be experienced and may last up to four hours:
Higher doses may result in the following adverse effects:
The effects of combining synthetic cathinones (such as ethylone) with other drugs – including over-the-counter or prescribed medications – can be unpredictable and dangerous. The following combinations could have the following effects:
Synthetic cathinones + ice, speed or ecstasy: increase the risk of cardiovascular (heart) problems and substance-induced psychosis.5
Synthetic cathinones + alcohol + cannabis: nausea and vomiting.6
If possible, find out what a common dose is of ethylone is. As ethylone is a relatively new synthetic cathinone the harm reduction advice is partly based on what is known of related drugs like amphetamines and MDMA, as not enough research has been done on ethylone specifically.
Use of ethylone is likely to be more dangerous when:
In Australia, poisons information centres and clinical toxicology units are often contacted for advice on poisonings from synthetic cathinones. Features of these poisonings include agitation, tachycardia (increased heart rate), hypertension and in severe cases delirium, aggressive behaviour, hallucinations, hyperthermia, cardiac dysrhythmia (irregular heart beat) and seizures.7
Injecting synthetic cathinones can cause soft tissue and vascular damage.
Sharing needles may also transmit:
Currently there isn’t available data on people seeking treatment for ethylone dependence.1 However, the limited data available on people who use synthetic cathinones demonstrates that frequent use and strong doses can lead to a strong compulsion to re-dose, as well as dependence, tolerance and withdrawal.8
In Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria there is now a ‘blanket ban’ on possessing or selling any substance that has a psychoactive effect other than alcohol, tobacco and food.
In other states and territories in Australia specific New Psychoactive Substances (including synthetic cathinones) are banned and new ones are regularly added to the list. This means that a drug that was legal to sell or possess today, may be illegal tomorrow. The substances banned differ between these states/territories.