“Monkey dust” is an off-white powder, which is the synthetic version of the natural compound referred to as MDPV which can be administered orally, through injections or through snorting. Cathinones is the family of drugs that MDPV belongs to, it includes the naturally occurring stimulant khat. The stimulant khat originates from a shrub which grows in East Africa and Southern Arabia. Khat leads to an increase in the levels of dopamine, which is the neurotransmitter that makes you feel good; it stimulates the release of the stress hormone norepinephrine, which makes you feel more alert and hyper.
The stimulant can lead to increase in heart rate, so can cause users to develop serious heart defects (NIDA for Teens, 2018). Before 2010, Cathinones were permitted to be sold in headshops; however, they were reclassified as ‘Class B’ drugs due to an increase in the drug, mephedrone and prior to a bigger increase in the usage of legal highs and therefore “Monkey Dust” is considered illegal in the UK (Matthews-King, 2018). In America, “Money Dust” is referred to as ‘bath salts’, and most frequent users prefer to snort ‘bath salts’, combined with oral dosing because it provides a more rapid start with a significantly longer duration of effect.
The pharmacology of “Monkey Dust” and the interactions of “Monkey Dust” with the brain are still very obscure (Majortests. com, 2018). Chemical properties of MDPV include, molecular weight being 275. 348 g/mol; has a complexity of 341. Monkey dust also has a Topological Polar Surface Area of 38. 8 A2, which is explained as the amount of molecular surface emerging from polar atoms (PubChem. ncbi. nlm. nih. gov, 2018). The biological and pharmacological properties of MDPV are that it functions as a strong Re-uptake inhibitor for dopamine and norepinephrine within the nerve tissue at the plasma membrane transporters. Re-uptake inhibition is where, dopamine which is located out of the cells is not absorbed through postsynaptic neuron; so is inhibited from re-entering the presynaptic neuron, which leads to an increase in the level dopamine situated outside of the cell (En. Wikipedia. org, 2018). Having too much dopamine present within the body can lead to euphoria, aggression and intense sexual feelings (Psychology Today, 2018). The MDPV’s structure consists of equal amounts of each enantiomer. Enantiomer are stereoisomers that are non-superimposable mirror images of each other (Mytutor. co. uk, 2018). MDPV induces abuse-related effects due to the S-isomer being more potent than the R-isomer at inhibiting dopamine.
Also, MDPV exhibits a fast pharmacokinetic effect when injected into rats which had a maximum plasma concentration for up to 10 to 20 mins and then declined rapidly. MDPV can be catalysed into 3,4-dihydroxypyrovalerone and 4-hydroxy-3-methoxypyrovalerone within the living organisms, however the motor activation achieved by the drug has a positive correlation with plasma concentrations of the parent drug and not its metabolites. 3,4-dihydroxypyrovalerone is also a strong Re-uptake inhibitor for dopamine which occurs for processes outside a living organism but has little effect after consuming it within the living organism. 4-hydroxy-3-methoxypyrovalerone is the main MDPV metabolite even though it is weak at dopamine and norepinephrine sites. MDPV has a similar molecular structure to α-pyrrolidinovalerophenone (α-PVP), and it has a similar ability to inhibit dopamine and increase extracellular dopamine concentrations. These findings show that MDPV moreover its analogues have a unique class of transporter inhibitors with a high propensity for abuse and addiction (Baumann MH, Bukhari MO, Lehner KR, 2018).
Monkey dust has been profound to be a public health concern as it can be bought as cheap as £2, so easily accessible. Within the UK it first hit the streets of Stroke-On-Trent and Staffordshire. It causes individuals, who are on the drug to have violent and psychotic episodes and has been majorly criticised for terrifying ‘face eating attacks’ which has caused the police to raise alarms. PC Rich Frost said: “When you are trying to restrain them it’s almost like trying to restrain someone who thinks they are the Incredible Hulk and the strength is unbelievable. ” The effect that “Monkey Dust” has on people is, it inhibits users from feeling pain and causes agitation, hallucinations and severe paranoia which is due to the increase in dopamine levels. Chief Superintendent Jeff Moore told Sky News: “The drug is highly addictive and highly unpredictable, meaning emergency services can often struggle to provide the appropriate treatment to those under the influence”. Each user reacts differently, exhibiting dangerous and volatile behaviour.
West Midlands Ambulance Service have been called to 178 incidents since April, with 131 of them being from North Staffordshire and have dealt with cases across the region. (Shiner, 2018). “Monkey Dust” has risen over the last two years, however paramedics and local police have reported a significant increase in cases this summer furthermore emergency services have stated to be dealing with an ‘epidemic’ in the city, where they are encountering aggressive, unstable users that are hooked onto this substance nearly every day. Footage was obtained by Sky, revealing alleged user attacking paramedics with a bone protruding from his arm and another jumping from the rooftop of a building (Evans et al. , 2018). It has been found that drug use usually spreads through conversations on social media and that someone might have access to large amounts of the substance due to its popularity and so can sell or purchase “Monkey Dust” from anybody through social media.
Another spokesman stated, “People who take these substances have absolutely no way of knowing what is contained within them as the chemicals are untested and unregulated,”. Moreover, if headshops were to be closed then there would be no control over what would be sold due to everything being on the black market and no quality control. ‘Prof David Nutt, a former government adviser on drugs, said the 2016 Psychoactive Substances Act had resulted in Cathinones becoming stronger. ’ Another spokesman stated that having drug testing facilities introduced in areas such as Stroke-on-Trent could allow scientists to figure what exactly is in monkey dust and educate the public about the consequences of the Class B drug (Marsh, 2018).
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