Stimulants Among the New Synthetics

Drug Lab

This year, the World Drug Report from the United Nations named a new category of illicit drug because of the proliferation of new substances from this category. They called it New Psychoactive Substances, or NPS. These are the new synthetic drugs that are hitting the market, one after another.

Chemical tests of substances stated to be one of the drugs above, especially Ecstasy, have shown that they are frequently adulterated with other substances.

The number and type of synthetics arriving on the illicit market is constantly changing. Some people like these drugs because drug tests can’t keep up with them and some of them are still legally for sale. Even the best drug tests only detects a fraction of the number of synthetics that are found in pills that some young people are using. You may not be able to count on a drug test telling you if your child is abusing a synthetic drug.

Here is some brief information on these other substances and their dangers.

Newly Reported Substances

The European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction issued a warning in early 2014 of a new deadly synthetic to hit the European and UK markets. D4-methylaminorex and its derivative 4,4’-DMAR have similar effects to methamphetamine. While D4-methylaminorex is on the lists of illegal drugs in Europe and the US, 4,4’-DMAR was not, as of early 2014.

In 2012, 4,4’-DMAR began to be seen on the illicit market in Denmark, Finland, Hungary, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom. By 2014, it had caused 26 deaths. Those who died manifested agitation, dangerously increased body temperature, breathing problems, foaming at the mouth and cardiac arrest. This drug may also be called 4-methyl-euphoria, 4-methyl-U4Euh, 4-M-4-MAR, 4,4-dimethylaminorex or Serotoni.



Found in a class of stimulants called phenethylamines. These stimulants also have hallucinogenic (causing hallucinations) effects.


Dragon Fly

This drug was given this nickname because the shape of the molecule resembles a dragonfly. The difference between what is considered a “safe” dose and a fatal dose is very, very small. Several deaths have occurred as a result of this or similar drugs. Adverse effects of this drug include liver failure, kidney failure and amputation of fingers and toes.

Besides being very potent, the effects of this drug may last as long as three days. Confusion, heart problems, seizures and hallucinations often result. It may be sold as a white or off-white powder in a small plastic bag, labeled “not for food, drug, household or cosmetic use.”

The other formulas of phenethylamine are known only by number-letter designation, for example:

2C-1, 2C-B, 2C-E, 2C-T-7, 2C-P.



BZP belongs to a category of drug called piperazines. The chemical name for BZP is 1-benzylpiperazine. Another drug seen on the illicit market from this class is TFMPP or 1-(3-trifluoromethyl-phenyl)piperazine. These drugs are often sold in blister packs or may appear in pills sold under a different name. Users experience increased heart rate and blood pressure. Pupils dilate. They go hot and cold, have stomach pains and nausea, headaches and tremors. Some people experience severe seizures and others have panic attacks.


These are drugs that are mostly found in the UK. They are chemically similar to Ecstasy or methamphetamine.

Their chemical names are:

  • PMA: Para-methoxyamphetamine
  • PMMA: Para-methoxymethamphetamine

These are strong stimulants that causes increases in energy, body temperature, blood pressure and heart rate. They can cause hallucinations, convulsions and respiratory distress. Some people have received PMA or PMMA when they thought they were getting Ecstasy and later died. Dozens of deaths have been associated with these two drugs.



(mostly outside the US)


This drug is in a class called cathinones. It is chemically similar to amphetamine and produces a similar experience to amphetamine, methamphetamine, Ecstasy or cocaine. Users report euphoria and a sense of wellbeing, alertness and confidence. Adverse effects include racing heart, blurred vision, tension in face and jaw, blue fingers and other extremities, nausea, vomiting and a compulsion to continue to use it despite harm. Some people suffer hallucinations and insomnia. Use of mephedrone has been associated with a number of deaths, but the role of this drug in causing those deaths is uncertain.


Known chemically as 3,4 methylenedioxypyrovalerone

This is also a cathinone and has similar effects as mephedrone but it is much more potent than other drugs in this class.

Methylone (bk-MDMA)

This is one of the chemicals that may be used in “bath salts” or that may be found in a pill sold as Ecstasy. Use has been associated with the sudden death of otherwise healthy individuals. Users tend to overheat, have blurred vision and lose their ability to perceive time accurately. They may grind their teeth, be dizzy and confused and suffer hallucinations. Users sometimes report a feeling of empathy, similar to that of Ecstasy.

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