Stimulants in Bath Salts Produce Effects Similar to MDMA

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A research study conducted by NIDA's (National Institute of Drug Abuse) Intramural Research Program showed that mephedrone and methylone act on the brain like MDMA, also known as ecstasy. Mephedrone and methylone are two stimulants found in bath salts, so one of the conclusions being made is that these stimulants are similarly addictive in both MDMA and bath salts. Both drugs are indeed addictive, and have been known to cause similar effects, such as euphoria, energy, wakefulness, a sense of well-being, and mood changes.

Perhaps these findings can shed light on how bath salts isn't too much different from ecstasy, a popular club drug that is perceived as safe or fun. Although bath salt usage has seen more extreme cases of death and injury, ecstasy has had its share of tragic consequences. A person dying of dehydration or heart problems has occurred many times with MDMA, and bath salts are known to cause aggression, confusion, suicide, and irregular behavior. Each drug has its own effect; however, this recent study reveals that underneath the behavior, there may be similar reactions occurring in the brain--at a bio-chemical level.

The study focused on lab rats, where each was given a dose of one of the three stimulants. Every drug escalated extracellular concentrations of the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin. And for all three substances, serotonin was affected the most as opposed to dopamine. So all in all, there was an "underlying mechanism for the heightened neurotransmitter presence"-- which was that all three drugs caused transporters in cellular membranes to release dopamine and serotonin in the extracellular space. However, the main point is that usually, the normal activity of the transporters is to draw out the neurotransmitters from the extracellular space, not in.

This means that the drug usage reversed the normal functioning of these transporters, and each effect was the same as the next drug. They produced similar pharmacologic effects. There were also some differences found however: repeated high doses of MDMA reduced serotonin concentrations in the brain, while mephedrone and methylone did not follow this effect. Also, repeated high doses of these drugs caused the lab rats to behave differently. MDMA led to flattened body posture, while mephdrone and methylone induced rearing behavior. Of course, the most important fact is that all these drugs have a high potential for addiction. Mephedrone and methylone have less toxic potential than MDMA, but much testing and research is expected in order to support this hypothesis. Hopefully, many of these findings can be shared in schools and colleges in order to show teens and young adults (or any drug user for that matter), that bath salts and MDMA aren't too far apart in the drug hierarchy.

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