This product is one of the substances of “concern in Europe”, according to the European Drug Observatory.
Its full name is 3-methylmethcathinone, but it is mostly called 3-MMC. The use of this drug, known since the early 2010s, has spread in the population in recent years, and is sometimes presented as a cheaper alternative to cocaine. “This is the new coke,” he says The Parisian a recent consumer, who first tried this product a few months ago.
In his latest reportthe French Observatory of Drugs and Drug Addiction speaks of a “significant phenomenon” and this drug is one of the substances that “cause concern in Europe”, wrote the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) last March.
• What is the 3-MMC made of?
This drug is part of what is called synthetic cathinones. This is a “family of synthetic substances derived from natural cathinone” from the khat plant (Catha edulis), explains the Drugs Info Service website. “They more or less mimic the effects of cocaine, MDMA / ecstasy and amphetamines.”
3-MMC was officially identified and categorized as a new psychoactive substance by the EMCDDA in September 2012, following a “customs seizure of 51.1 grams of powder on 27 June 2012 in Gothenburg”. explains the European organization. The circulation of this substance has since been monitored, and Seizures of this drug are announced from time to time.
This product can be in the form of powder, crystal but also tablets. It is “ingested, sniffed, more rarely injected (slam) or consumed rectally,” the OFDT writes. It is sniffed or ingested, but the injection is also reported in high-risk contexts, such as chemsex parties“, explains the EMCDDA.
• What are its effects?
The 3-MMC “aims to lift inhibitions, increase pleasure” and was until then “almost exclusively” consumed “among men who have sex with other men (MSM) in contexts that mix sexuality , most often in groups, and consumption of synthetic psychoactive products “, which is called chemsex, explains the OFDT.
3-MMC is “both stimulating, euphoric and empathogenic,” the French organization continues. Users define its effects “as a combination of those of cocaine, of MDMA and amphetamines“, products already known in the festive environment.
• Why is it occurring more recently?
In recent years, this drug has spread to other groups and is used by other people, gay and straight, in festive settings. “There is a significant increase in the use of 3-MMC outside of sexual intercourse, showing signs of spread outside the gay and MSM communities.” can be read in a March 2022 report on the Chemsex, destined for the Ministry of Health.
While the amounts of cathinone powder have been declining since 2016, “in 2020, there has been a significant increase, with about 3300 kg of seized powders,” compared to about 1800 kg in 2016, the EMCDDA writes.
“It appears that at least in part, this increase was due to 3-MMC, which accounted for nearly a quarter of the amount of powder seized in 2020.”
Its spread could be partly due to its lower cost than cocaine. According to the EMCDDA report, prices range from 8 to 37.5 euros per gram, with a majority purchase on the web, compared to 70/80 euros per gram of cocaine.
• What are the risks?
Like any drug, there are serious risks associated with its use. The EMCDDA writes that 27 deaths due to taking this substance have been reported in Europe. Overall, “most reports noted the negative health impact of consumption [de 3-MMC] was considerable, ” writes the World Health Organization in a 2017 report.
“Adverse events following its use included tachycardia, agitation, reduced consciousness, dilated pupils, hallucinations, diaphoresis [forte transpiration, ndlr]seizures and hyperthermia, “said WHO.
“Users have also reported insomnia, difficulty concentrating and tingling in the arms and legs. Hospitalizations have been reported, some of which are due to the use of 3-MMC alone.”