Know Your Cathinones

Image, white cathinone crystals on a table

We know that eutylone is being mis-sold as MDMA all over the country and ruining everyone’s summer this festival season. That’s not the only cathinone you need to watch out for though.

But wait, there’s more cathinones! And they’re pretty much all shit!

Aotearoa New Zealand has experienced at least 5 different types of cathinone in the last decade. Because they’re comparatively easy to make, every time we get a handle on one, another crops up to shit on everyone’s day.

Cathinones found in NZ have included:

  • Alpha PVP (flakka)
  • Eutylone
  • N-ethylpentylone
  • Mephedrone (4-MMC)
  • Pentylone
  • Methylone (M1 or bk-MDMA – despite the name, is *not* MDMA)

Why are cathinones so shit?

Cathinones are often more potent, mg for mg, than MDMA. A standard dose of cathinone can be anywhere between 10mg and 60mg. A standard dose of MDMA is anywhere between 75mg and 125mg. A dangerous dose of cathinone is between >15mg (flakka) and >100mg (eutylone). A dangerous dose of MDMA is >175mg.

So let’s say that someone’s been sold some “MDMA” that’s actually eutylone. They have 100mg of their “MDMA”, which is actually 1.5 doses of eutylone. The euphoria wears off quickly and they think that their “MDMA” is really weak, so they have another 100mg. They’ve now had 200mg of eutylone, which is well more than a standard dose and is getting into seriously risky territory.

Symptoms for dangerous doses for cathinones include hallucinations, tingling extremities, seizures, psychosis, vomiting and diarrhea, insomnia, severe, prolonged anxiety including panic attacks, and in some cases, death.

Sometimes drug manufacturers will mask cathinones with a small amount of MDMA in order to throw off reagent tests. Those are the drug manufacturers that get people killed. This is why getting your gear checked with our FTIR spectrometer is so important. Using reagent testing alone can’t detect these mixes and will give the same result as MDMA. We can tell you which cathinone you’re dealing with, how dangerous it is, and how you can take care of yourself if you have some by accident.

NZ’s top 3 cathinones

This is a run-down of the things you will potentially run into this summer. Things all cathinone experiences have in common are:

  • Mild euphoria that doesn’t last very long
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Racing heart

Things extreme cathinone experiences have in common are:

  • Hallucinations
  • Psychosis
  • Hospitalisations

People have also overdosed and died because of these substances.

Basically, almost nobody has a good time with cathinones, especially when they take them inadvertently, thinking they are MDMA. The only thing that really varies is how much it takes to hurt you if you don’t know you’ve taken it.


We started seeing eutylone in December 2018 and it’s been picking up since then. It’s been strongly prevalent this summer and a large number of people have had extremely negative experiences with it. Almost half of the samples that we’ve seen that are meant to be MDMA have been eutylone, or a eutylone/MDMA mix. People taking this have experienced insomnia, gastric distress, hallucinations, and severe anxiety.

It’s been found in pill, powder, and crystal form, so unfortunately there’s no way of telling whether what you have is eutylone just by looking.


Judged Summer’s Crap Drug of 2017, this cathinone has been linked to deaths overseas and hospitalisations here. We found this in powder, crystal, and pill form. The active dose of n-ethylpentylone is >35mg, so even half a standard dose of “MDMA” will be more than you bargained for. A normal MDMA sized dose is likely to be harmful and unpleasant. DO NOT MESS AROUND WITH THIS SHIT.


This is another cathinone that’s been linked to deaths overseas and hospitalisations here. This is one of the older cathinones (2005-2010) that has reappeared in NZ. Mephedrone can feel similar to MDMA but has a very high redose compulsion so you risk taking far too much. It also has a dependency risk.

We started seeing this in pill form in 2019, and it’s popped up every now and again since. Dosing for mephedrone is similar to that for MDMA, which means anything over 175mg is getting pretty risky. Make sure you weigh your gear properly, and be aware that if you snort it you should halve your dose.

Cathinones sound like shit, how do I avoid them?

Come and see us in the KYSNZ tent, obvs. We’ll run your gear through the FTIR spec and tell you if you’ve got mdma in your mdma, and whether or not you’ve got anything else in your mdma.

If you can’t come and see us, you can try a reagent test from the Hemp store or Cosmic, but this will only tell you if you’ve got solid cathinone. It can’t see cathinones that are present if the manufacturer has added MDMA to your cathinones.

If you can’t test your substances we strongly advise you not to take them.

Honestly, we’d rather you had a quiet one on the couch rather than a horrible one in A&E.

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