CAT is most recent SA drug threat

2014-11-14 00:00

JOOST van der Westhuizen’s ex-stripper “girlfriend” Marilize van Emmenis appeared in court after allegedly being found with half a bag of Methcathinone (CAT) in her possession.

What is CAT?

CAT is a derivative of a naturally occurring stimulant drug, cathinone, which is found in the khat plant, Cathula edulis, which is native to the horn of Africa and southern Arabian peninsula.

History of CAT

CAT was first synthesised in Germany in 1928. It was used medically in the Soviet Union as an anti-depressant during the thirties and forties. CAT has reportedly been used as a recreational drug in the Soviet Union since the late sixties.

In the mid-fifties, Parke Davis & Company, a United States drug making company, experimented with the drug. The aim of the studies was to see if there was a medical use for CAT. The company may have tested it as a weight loss drug and antidepressant. But CAT dangers were thought to outweigh its potential value in a clinical setting.

Parke Davis quickly brought its research to an end and abandoned research with the drug. In 1989, CAT made its recreational debut in the U.S.

At that time, a University of Michigan student who was working at Parke Davis found a quantity of the drug and a copy of the manufacturing process. He decided to bring it home and undertake some study of the drug on his own.

The student and his friends seemed to like the effects of the drug and decided to share their love with the rest of the world.

A year later, they were synthesising and selling their own version of the product. Use spread from Michigan to the rest of the U.S. By 1992, CAT was being sold everywhere.

CAT was classified as a schedule 1 controlled substance on May 1, 1992. Chemistry synthesis of CAT does not require complicated lab equipment to make.

Ephedrine is often used to manufacture CAT. Oxidation of ephedrine to CAT requires almost zero chemistry experience, making it easy to synthesise. Potassium permanganate (KMnO4) is the most commonly used oxidant.

CAT can also be synthesised via the oxidation of l-ephedrine using sodium dichromate and sulphuric acid. This process is just as simple as oxidising the ephedrine with potassium permanganate. Because of this, ephedrine sellers have to give the authorities the names and addresses of buyers. So, if you plan on buying ephedrine, be prepared to furnish some form of identification before the supplier will sell it to you.

According to South Coast Recovery Centre, it is South Africa’s most recent drug threat and since 2001 this new drug has emerged as a cheap substitute for methamphetamine (Tik).

How it affects you

Clandestinely manufactured, CAT is almost exclusively sold in the stable and highly water soluble hydrochloride salt form. The effects of CAT intoxication are similar to those produced by amphetamines, crack and cocaine.

These effects can include:

• Feelings of euphoria.

• Increased alertness.

• Increased heart rate.

• Rapid breathing.

• Dilated pupils.

• Similar to other stimulants, CAT can amplify the action of norepinephrine and dopamine. Unusual stimulation of these two neurotransmitters can cause strange behaviour in some individuals.

Negative effects can include:

• Anxiety.

• Convulsions.

• Delusions.

• Fever.

• Hallucinations.

• Headaches.

• Insomnia.

• Irregular heart rate.

• Muscle twitching.

• Paranoia.

• Restlessness.

• Withdrawal symptoms of anxiety and profuse sweating can precede convulsions, hallucinations and severe depression.

Long-term effects:

• Paranoia.

• Hallucinations.

• Anxiety, followed by depression.

• Tremors and convulsions.

• Anorexia, malnutrition and weight loss.

• Dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.

• Stomach pains.

• Nausea.

• Nose bleeds.

• Destruction of nasal tissue.

• Elevated blood pressure.

• Elevated heart rate.

• Body aches.

• Permanent brain damage.

• Death.

Use of CAT

CAT can be taken orally, smoked, injected or snorted. The most common method is by nasal inhalation.

Tolerance and dependence can both develop quickly after just one six to 10 day binge.

CAT is a highly addictive drug, similar to crack cocaine. Like crack cocaine, the addiction is difficult to treat.

The most common street name is Cat. Others include Jeff, Bathtub Speed, Wannabe-Speed, Kitty, Meth’s Cat, Meth’s Kitten.

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