Abuse potential and toxicity of the synthetic cathinones (i.e., "Bath salts").Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2020 03; 110:150-173.NB
The synthetic cathinones are derived from the naturally occurring drug cathinone found in the khat plant (Catha edulis) and have chemical structures and neurochemical consequences similar to other psychostimulants. This class of new psychoactive substances (NPS) also has potential for use and abuse coupled with a range of possible adverse effects including neurotoxicity and lethality. This review provides a general background of the synthetic cathinones in terms of the motivation for and patterns and demographics of their use as well as the behavioral and physiological effects that led to their spread as abused substances and consequent regulatory control. This background is followed by a review focusing on their rewarding and aversive effects as assessed in various pre-clinical animal models and the contribution of these effects to their self-administration (implicating their use and abuse potential). The review closes with an overview of the consequences of synthetic cathinone use and abuse in terms of their potential to produce neurotoxicity and lethality. These characterizations are discussed in the context of other classical psychostimulants.