The Dangers & Effects of Methylone Use

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Methylone is one of the second generation of synthetic drugs emerging over recent years on the black market. Methylone and similar compounds are commonly termed designer drugs due to the deliberate alterations that chemists make to the molecular structure, allowing these substances to circumvent existing legal restrictions. By deviating from the chemical profile of banned drugs, these new compounds can be legally marketed. Read on to learn why the abuse of methylone or any designer drug is potentially deadly and should always be avoided.

What Is Methylone?

The synthetic compound 3, 4-methylenedioxymethcathinone, commonly known as methylone, is often found within products marketed as bath salts. Sharing a close structural resemblance to MDMA ­– 3, 4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine – methylone is sometimes illicitly sold as molly, suggesting an attempt by drug dealers to present it as a substitute for ecstasy or similar substances. Methylone is also known by various street names like bubbles, explosion, MDMCAT, and ease.

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Methylone has been classified as a Schedule I controlled substance by the DEA (United States Drug Enforcement Administration). This categorization indicates that the federal government deems the substance as having no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse and addiction. The DEA’s decision to classify methylone as Schedule I followed its initial temporary placement on the controlled substances list for more than two years.

A woman with her hand on her chin representing side effects of excessive methylone use

Methylone Effects on The Brain

Methylone is a synthetic cathinone that shares structural similarities with amphetamines and MDMA. Its impact on the brain closely mirrors that of these substances, influencing various neurotransmitter systems and neural pathways.

Neurotransmitter release and impact

Upon consumption, methylone acts as a potent releasing agent for crucial neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, within the brain. This process leads to a significant surge in the availability of these neurotransmitters, resulting in a rapid and profound alteration of neural activity.

Immediate effects on brain function

The heightened levels of serotonin can induce a sense of euphoria, emotional warmth, and heightened empathy, akin to the effects experienced with MDMA consumption. Additionally, the increased dopamine levels contribute to a surge in energy, intensified focus, and heightened motivation, which may lead to increased sociability and a heightened sense of well-being.

Adverse physiological reactions

That said, the excessive release of these neurotransmitters can trigger undesirable physiological responses, such as heightened heart rate, elevated blood pressure, and potential neurotoxicity. These reactions can be particularly problematic for individuals with underlying cardiovascular issues or those predisposed to adverse reactions to stimulant substances.

Risk of dependence and addiction

The overstimulation of the brain’s reward system by methylone can significantly increase the likelihood of developing psychological dependence and addiction. The rapid onset of pleasurable sensations, coupled with the drug’s potential to induce cravings and compulsive drug-seeking behaviors, can create a cycle of repeated use that may be challenging to break.

Long-term impact on brain chemistry and function

Prolonged or excessive use of methylone can lead to persistent alterations in brain chemistry and function. Chronic usage may trigger cognitive impairments, including memory deficits, decreased cognitive flexibility, and reduced decision-making capabilities. Mood disturbances, like anxiety, depression, and emotional instability, are also commonly associated with prolonged exposure to methylone.

Methylone vs. MDMA

While methylone and MDMA share structural similarities and exert comparable effects on neurotransmitter systems, several key distinctions differentiate their pharmacological properties and subjective experiences.

  • Chemical structure and composition: Methylone and MDMA belong to the cathinone and amphetamine classes, respectively. While they both affect serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine release, the specific mechanisms of action differ due to the unique structural disparities between the two compounds.
  • Psychoactive effects and experience: The psychoactive effects of methylone are often described as less intense and shorter-lasting than those of MDMA. People using methylone commonly report a milder sense of euphoria, empathy, and sensory enhancement, while MDMA is renowned for producing heightened feelings of emotional closeness, increased sensory perception, and profound empathy.
  • Duration of effects and aftereffects: The duration of effects and after-effects of methylone is generally shorter-lived than MDMA. Peak effects typically subside within a few hours, whereas the experiential effects of MDMA can last for several hours, often accompanied by an extended period of emotional openness and empathetic feelings, followed by a potential period of emotional vulnerability during the comedown.
  • Health risks and safety considerations: Methylone has the potential to trigger adverse health effects like increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, and neurotoxicity. In this regard, the drug is comparable to MDMA. However, due to variations in individual sensitivity and physiological responses, the overall risk profile and safety considerations may differ between the two substances.
An image of the California detox facility in Laguna Beach, CA, where treatment is available for methylone abuse

Get Treatment for Methylone Dependence at California Detox

Have you or someone that you care about been abusing methylone? If so, we offer a range of detox and addiction treatment services at California Detox in Laguna Beach, CA.

Take advantage of our supervised medical detox program to reduce the intensity of withdrawal from methylone. After a week or so, you can move into our inpatient treatment program for the most structured, supportive route to sustained recovery.

All addictions are unique, so all treatment programs at California Detox offer a personalized blend of treatments that may include:

When you are ready to move beyond addiction to designer drugs like methylone, call 949.694.8305 and begin your recovery right away.


No, methylone is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance in the United States and is illegal to manufacture, possess, distribute, or use for any reason other than approved research. Its classification varies by country, though.
Methylone can be detected in urine through specialized laboratory tests that can identify the presence of the substance. The duration for which methylone remains detectable in urine can vary depending on factors such as the frequency and dosage of use, metabolism rate, and individual body characteristics, but typically it can be detected for up to 4 days after ingestion.


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