Methylone is a designer drug that acts on the brain much like MDMA or ecstasy. The substance releases a flood of dopamine and serotonin to increase alertness, excitability, and physical energy. However, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), methylone may not have the same toxicity as the other amphetamine-based stimulants, meaning the drug may not have the same potential for addiction as MDMA.
This was based on a study involving rats that monitored the levels of neurotransmitters released by the brain over time. The study found that repeated, high doses of both methylone and mephedrone, another synthetic cathinone, did not deplete serotonin in the brain in the same way that MDMA did. However, the initial studies on similarities between methylone, MDMA, and mephedrone are small and do not involve humans, so understanding how addictive and toxic new chemicals like methylone are can take time.