Monkey Dust Drug: Signs and Effects

Monkey Dust Drug: Signs and Effects

A drug known as monkey dust has been used in the UK for at least a decade. It made headlines in 2016 after police released footage of people, believed to be under the influence of the drug, behaving in extreme ways.

A number of deaths were linked to monkey dust, and the use of the substance was described as an epidemic – centred around the city of Stoke-on-Trent. The government is currently seeking advice on the harms linked to the monkey dust drug and related substances in order to decide whether to reclassify it.

Monkey dust is currently a Class B substance; reclassifying it as a Class A drug could see suppliers facing a potential life sentence. But what exactly is monkey dust, and what are the signs and effects of this dangerous drug?


What is Monkey Dust?

In recent years, the UK  (along with other countries) has seen a rise in synthetic ‘designer’ drugs known as New Psychoactive Substances (NPS).

They are often designed to mimic the effects of existing drugs while bypassing legal restrictions because the new substances have not been specifically banned. They could, therefore, be sold as legal highs or ‘research chemicals’. One type of NPS that may be particularly harmful is synthetic cathinone.

Cathinone is a natural stimulant found in the plant that is chemically similar to amphetamine. Synthetic cathinones have often been marketed as legal replacements for banned stimulants such as amphetamine, MDMA and cocaine. In the UK, they are currently banned as a Class B substance.

Monkey dust is a slang or street name for a number of different synthetic cathinone formulas and can be difficult to pin down. These drugs are not confined to the UK and may go by different names – such as bath salts in the US. Even within the limited area of a city like Stoke-on-Trent, users report using different ‘types’ of monkey dust, with different colours and strengths.


What Are the Main Monkey Dust Drug Effects?

Monkey dust and other synthetic cathinones act as a stimulant and may broadly produce similar effects to Class A illegal drugs such as amphetamines, MDMA (ecstasy) and cocaine. These effects can include a feeling of euphoria, energy and confidence. Users have also reported a boost in libido.

Monkey dust drug effects can also cause erratic behaviour, however. They have been linked with a range of mental health issues, including anxiety and paranoia, and there may be many complications and side effects. Because the drug is relatively new, with a chemical formula that can change over time and location, it has not been studied enough for us to know about all the potential effects.


What Are the Dangers of Monkey Dust?

While the full range of monkey dust effects and potential side effects are not fully understood, they can certainly be dangerous. Synthetic cathinones, including monkey dust drugs, present some of the same risks as other stimulants. These could include increased heart rate and blood pressure, nausea, tremors, seizures and even death through overdose. Monkey dust has been linked to a number of deaths in the UK.

Monkey dust has also been associated with a number of mental health issues. Research commissioned by Stoke-on-Trent City Council found that the majority of users said that monkey dust had a detrimental effect on their mental health and, in some cases, exacerbated existing mental health issues.

Paranoia and even psychosis were described as common side effects, with one participant saying it was “hard to know what’s real” while under the influence of the drug. Others said that they didn’t look after themselves while using monkey dust. This included not sleeping or eating well, failing to keep track of time and failing to take medications.

Some participants talked about experiencing physical effects, including damage to internal organs and impacts on skin, teeth, hair, personal hygiene and weight loss. This may be related to users’ lifestyles as well as the drug itself – but using monkey dust can certainly contribute to the vicious cycle of a chaotic lifestyle.

Some users also described a strong compulsion to continue using the drug, suggesting that it can be addictive. Other stimulants, including cocaine and amphetamines, are known to be highly addictive substances.

Monkey dust and similar drugs can also lead to erratic and dangerous behaviour. In media coverage five years ago, Chief Supt Jeff Moore of Staffordshire Police told the BBC that users were putting themselves and others in danger. “We have seen cases where we’ve got people running into traffic; we’ve seen cases where we’ve got people climbing onto buildings,” he said. “It is that unpredictability that is causing that concern.”


Signs Someone is Using Monkey Dust

There are a number of signs that you should look out for if you are concerned that someone you know is using monkey dust.

Aside from actually witnessing them using the drug, their behaviour may become erratic. This could include euphoric episodes when they are using the drug, paranoia, extreme anxiety and depression. At other times they may act confused or detached from reality. Dangerous and unpredictable behaviour, including violence and aggression, could be another sign.

Lying or getting defensive about drug use can be a sign that the person knows they have a problem on some level, even if they don’t admit it. Making the sourcing and using of monkey dust a priority – which could involve spending money they can’t afford, stealing and borrowing to get it – could be a sign of addiction.


Monkey Dust Drug Addiction Treatment

As with any form of addiction, a monkey dust habit can be extremely difficult to beat without expert help.

An effective treatment programme should not only help you detox and get the drug out of your system, but it should also address the psychological aspects of the addiction and root causes of substance abuse. For further guidance and support, contact Cassiobury Court today at 0800 001 4070 to find out how we can help.