MDPV Addiction: Effects, Withdrawal & Treatment

MDPV belongs to a new class of drugs called synthetic cathinones, which are sometimes called or marketed as “bath salts.” These drugs are highly potent and dangerous.

Read on to learn more about the risks of MDPV abuse, MDPV addiction, and how to get help if you or a loved one has lost control of their drug use.

What Is MDPV?

MDPV (3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone) is a synthetic cathinone drug chemically similar to MDMA or ecstasy (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine). MDMA is derived from khat, a South American plant sometimes chewed like gum for its stimulant properties. MDPV is a newer chemical, mainly found in bath salts, an emerging class of dangerous synthetic stimulant drugs being increasingly used in the United States.

Many synthetic cathinones associated with bath salts are chemically similar to amphetamines, especially ecstasy, but MDPV has been found to function more like cocaine when it impacts the brain. Both drugs elevate levels of dopamine in the brain, leading to similar surges in energy, elevated mood, and anxiety, but MDPV is 10 times more potent than cocaine.

MDPV is usually found as a white or light brown powder, which may be slightly clumpy and have a specific odor. Sometimes, the drug is found in pill or tablet form.

How Does MDPV Work?

mdpv pills as a white or light brown powder, which may be slightly clumpy and have a specific odor

MDPV binds to dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine transporters in the brain, preventing these neurotransmitters from being absorbed quickly. Neurotransmitters that stay available to the brain longer change mood and behaviors.

In the case of stimulants like MDPV, MDMA, and even meth and cocaine, the person experiences elevated physical energy, increased talkativeness, lowered inhibitions, excitement, and happiness. These positive feelings may then be followed by anxiety, paranoia, and possible violence.

Because MDPV is a new drug, it is not known for sure if the substance is addictive. Based on substances that have similar effects, including MDMA, cocaine, and meth, it is likely that MDPV can lead to compulsive behaviors because of how it changes brain chemistry.

MDPV Effects

Many of the effects of MDPV use are like those associated with other stimulants and amphetamines. They include:

  • Euphoria.
  • Elevated mood.
  • Rapid heartrate and breathing.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Elevated body temperature.
  • Confusion.
  • Mental and physical stimulation.

Effects from MDPV are dose-dependent. Very large doses of MDPV over a long period of time can cause intense paranoia, leading to delusions, aggression, and suicidal ideation. The person may suffer a break from reality leading to psychosis.

Heart attack, hyperthermia, kidney failure, seizures, and strokes have been caused by taking a large dose of MDPV, often in the form of bath salts, and these health consequences have led to death.

These effects may last for up to 6 hours, although the peak effects begin around 30 minutes after taking the drug and decrease after 2 hours. Negative side effects may last longer and lead to disturbed sleep, intense mood changes, increased aggression, and physical discomfort.

As the drug is eliminated from the body, the brain will not be able to produce dopamine at the same rate, and the neurons associated with dopamine release will be exhausted. The effect will be intense exhaustion, depression, anhedonia, and low mood after the drug leaves the body.

Dangers of MDPV Abuse

The National Forensic Laboratory Information System (NFLIS) first reported MDPV in 2009, when there were two reports of this substance involved in hospitalizations or law enforcement encounters. Reports of this drug increased to 380 in 2010 and then to 3,625 in 2011. After several reports of bath salts psychosis, the drug’s popularity decreased a little in 2012, with 3,377 reported incidents of MDPV to the NFLIS.

The drug’s legal status also changed after that time. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) moved MDPV to Schedule I, effectively banning this dangerous stimulant drug and making possession of it legally punishable.

Between 2010 and 2012, the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) reported that there were 8,520 calls to poison control lines about exposure to bath salts. In that same period, the DEA reported that 35 out of the 76,857 drug reports involved synthetic cathinones, and 77 percent of those reports involved stimulants containing MDPV.

Who Abuses MDPV?

When MDPV-based bath salts and Molly were legal in the U.S., most people who abused these drugs were young, often adolescents. Teens from ages 12 to 18 misused these drugs, as well as young adults.

Although some people over the age of 26 have been found to abuse MDPV stimulants, they are a much smaller group than younger people. In 2017, the Monitoring the Future Survey (MTF) found that 0.5% of 8th graders, 0.4% of 10th graders, and 0.6% of 12th graders abused bath salts, which may contain MDPV, at least once in the prior year.

MDPV was first identified in European markets in 2008 when Finnish officials seized the drug during a customs inspection. Just a year after MDPV first appeared in Europe, the synthetic cathinone made its way to the United States.

MDPV Withdrawal Symptoms

If a person has been using a CNS stimulant like MDPV regularly and at high doses, they may experience withdrawal symptoms if they attempt to stop or cut back their use. MDPV withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • Depression.
  • Anxiety.
  • Tremors.
  • Problems sleeping.
  • Paranoia.

As with other stimulants, there are no replacement drugs to ease withdrawal symptoms from MDPV. While some addictive substances like opioids have drugs like buprenorphine or methadone that can be used as medication-assisted therapy (MAT) to ease the body off addiction to the original opioid, MDPV and most other stimulants do not have the same prescription treatment options available.

During detox, medical professionals will oversee their patient’s withdrawal process, monitoring serious symptoms and treating them as necessary. After detox, professional addiction treatment—whether outpatient or inpatient, can help people address the issues that underlie addiction, modify behaviors around drug use, and help reduce the risk of relapse.

MDVP Addiction Treatment at Laguna

If you or a loved one is struggling with drug addiction, our Orange County rehab can help you begin the road to recovery.

At Laguna Treatment Center, we offer different levels of addiction rehab and personalized treatment plans designed to meet the individual needs of each patient.

To learn more about our programs, paying for rehab, using insurance to pay for rehab, call us at . You can also quickly check your insurance coverage by filling out this simple and secure .

You are not alone. Our admissions navigators are available around the clock and can help you start addiction treatment today.

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