What is the drug called CAT?

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Two unidentified dealers of Khat (Catha Edulis) shown in Sanaa, Yemen. Khat contains an amphetamine alkaloid stimulant narcotic illegal in most countries. Photo: Oleg Znamenskiy / Shutterstock.com
Two unidentified dealers of Khat (Catha Edulis) shown in Sanaa, Yemen. Khat contains an amphetamine alkaloid stimulant narcotic illegal in most countries. Photo: Oleg Znamenskiy / Shutterstock.com

The stripper known for the Joost van der Westhuizen "sex video", has been arrested for being in possession of the drug commonly known as ‘Cat’, Beeld reported on Tuesday.

Marilize van Emmenis, 29, spent Monday night in the police cells at Kameeldrift police station in Pretoria, according to the report.

She was arrested at her house in Montana around 14:00 after half a bag of the drug was allegedly found in her possession.

Read more:

Joost's sex video stripper arrested 
Joost: more on motor neuron disease

What is CAT?

History Of Methcathinone (CAT) 

Methcathinone 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.

Methcathinone was first synthesized in Germany in 1928. It was used medically in the Soviet Union as an anti-depressant during the 1930's and 1940's. Methcathinone has reportedly been used as a recreational drug in the Soviet Union since the late 1960's.

Read: Are you enabling an addict?

In the mid-1950's Parke Davis & Company, a U.S. drug making company, experimented with the drug. The aim of the studies was to see if there was a medical use for methcathinone.

They may have tested it as a weight loss drug and antidepressant. But methcathinone 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 methcathinone made its recreational debut in the United States.

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 synthesizing and selling their own version of the product. Use spread from Michigan to the rest of the States. By 1992, methcathinone was being sold everywhere.

Methcathinone was classified as a schedule I controlled substance on May 1, 1992. Chemistry Synthesis of cat does not require complicated lab equipment to make.

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

Methcathinone can also be synthesized via the oxidation of l-ephedrine using sodium dichromate and sulphuric acid. This process is just as simple as oxydizing 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 to you.

According to SouthCoast 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).

Read: Designer drugs are running out of control

Image: Khat, also called miraa, has been chewed for centuries in the Horn of Africa. Its psychoactive ingredients, cathinone and cathine, are similar to amphetamines but weaker, and can help chewers stay awake and talkative. In this picture A bundle of khat (CAT, qat) sits on a counter next to a leaflet giving information about how the stimulant plant is soon to be made illegal and classified as a Class C drug in Harlesden, north west London, on June 20, 2014. JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images

How it affects you

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

These effects last 4-6 hours and can include:

1. Feelings of euphoria
2. Increased alertness
3. Increased heart rate
4. Rapid breathing
5. Dilated pupils

Similar to other stimulants, methcathinone 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:

1. Anxiety
2. Convulsions
3. Delusions
4. Fever
5. Hallucinations
6. Headaches
7. Insomnia
8. Irregular heart rate
9. Muscle twitching
10. Paranoia
11. Restlessness
12. Tremors Withdrawal Early withdrawal symptoms of anxiety and profuse sweating can precede convulsions, hallucinations, and severe depression.

Long-term effects

1. Paranoia
2. Hallucinations
3. Anxiety followed by depression
4. Tremors and convulsions
5. Anorexia, malnutrition, and weight loss
6. Dehydration and electrolyte imbalance
7. Stomach pains
8. Nausea
9. Nose bleeds and eventual
10. Destruction of nasal tissue
11. Elevated blood pressure
12. Elevated heart rate
13. Body aches
14. Permanent brain damage
15. Death

Use Of Methcathinone

Methcathinone can be taken orally, smoked, injected, or snorted. The most common method being by nasal inhalation. Tolerance and dependence can both develop quickly after just one 6-10 day binge.

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

Image: Methcathinone and the paraphernalia used to injest it, via South Coast Recovery Centre


Read: Your guide to crack and cocaine

Street Names

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

Read more:

The hidden risks of TIK
Dagga is more dangerous than previously thought
The difference between CAT and cocaine

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