Monkey dust addiction

In the last decade, Monkey Dust has been one of the most talked about drugs in the media. But While tabloid stories of zombie-like states, cannibalism and superhuman strength have little basis, in fact, Monkey Dust’s dangers are very much real. Monkey Dust abuse can lead to severe health and personal problems, including the possibility of Monkey Dust addiction. It is crucial for anyone considering or currently using Monkey Dust to understand the serious dangers the drug poses and to know that there is help available at professional addiction treatment centres like Sanctuary Lodge.

What is Monkey Dust?

Monkey Dust, also known by its street names “Zombie Dust,” “Cannibal Dust,” and scientifically as MDPV (Methylenedioxypyrovalerone), is a powerful synthetic cathinone with intense psychoactive effects. A member of the drug family known as “bath salts,” Monkey Dust’s history is relatively recent, with it first being used recreationally in the early 2000s. Its chemical structure is similar to that of other cathinones, such as amphetamine, but it is significantly more potent.

Monkey Dust works by increasing the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain, such as dopamine and norepinephrine, leading to its highly stimulating and euphoric “high”. It is typically consumed by snorting, injecting or ingesting orally with the effects lasting up to twelve hours.

Monkey Dust drug effects

Monkey Dust has a range of effects on its users that can vary widely depending on the dosage, a person’s physiology and the presence of other substances in their system.

These include:

Psychological effects

  • Euphoria: Initially, users may feel an overwhelming sense of happiness and well-being.
  • Increased alertness and energy: Users may also experience a significant boost in energy and attentiveness.
  • Paranoia and anxiety: As the drug’s effects progress, however, users often report feelings of intense paranoia and anxiety.
  • Hallucinations: Visual and auditory hallucinations are common, leading to distorted perceptions of reality.
  • Aggression: There is often a marked increase in irritability and aggression, which can lead to violent behaviours.

Physical effects

  • Hyperthermia: Monkey Dust can cause the body’s temperature to rise to dangerous levels, potentially leading to heatstroke.
  • Increased heart rate and hypertension: These effects can pose serious risks to individuals with pre-existing heart conditions.
  • Insomnia: The stimulant properties of Monkey Dust can make it difficult for users to sleep, leading to prolonged periods of wakefulness and a resulting increase in the risk of accidents and mood and mental health issues.
  • Appetite suppression: Users often experience a decrease in hunger, which can lead to weight loss and malnutrition.

Long-term effects

Monkey Dust is still a relatively new substance, so more research is needed into its long-term effects. However, it is clear that abuse can lead to severe mental health issues, including:

  • Persistent psychosis
  • Depression
  • Increased risk of suicide

Physically, chronic Monkey Dust use can cause irreversible damage to the heart and other organs while the drug’s potency also means that overdose is an ever-present risk.

Monkey Dust in the UK

In the United Kingdom, Monkey Dust has emerged as a significant concern for public health and safety officials, particularly in certain regions where its use has become alarmingly prevalent. The drug’s affordability, at just a few pounds per dose, combined with its potent and long-lasting effects, has contributed to its popularity among users, especially in the Midlands and North of England. One city that has seen a particularly distressing rise in incidents is Stoke-on-Trent where Monkey Dust has led to numerous reports of extreme paranoia, an increased risk of self-harm and erratic, violent behaviour towards police and emergency medical personnel.

The legal status of Monkey Dust in the UK has been subject to scrutiny, with calls for tighter regulations and classification under the Misuse of Drugs Act. However, the adaptability of its manufacturers means that even as specific compounds are banned, new variants quickly take their place, challenging the effectiveness of legal restrictions.

What is Monkey Dust addiction?

Monkey Dust addiction means that a person has an uncontrollable urge to consume the drug despite the negative consequences it brings. Addiction to Monkey Dust, like other substance use disorders, involves complex interactions between the drug’s chemical properties and the user’s brain, leading to changes in behaviour, physiology and mental health.

The drug’s powerful stimulant effects on the brain’s reward system play a crucial role in the development of addiction. By significantly increasing levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward, Monkey Dust creates a euphoric high that users seek to replicate, leading to repeated use.

Drug addiction often develops gradually, beginning with occasional use and escalating to frequent consumption as tolerance builds. Once tolerance has developed, dependence often comes next, where the user experiences withdrawal symptoms such as fatigue, depression and intense cravings when not using Monkey Dust. This dependence, coupled with a psychological reliance on Monkey Dust to feel happy, to self-medicate for underlying issues, or just to cope with everyday life, is the hallmark of addiction.

Signs and symptoms of Monkey Dust addiction

Recognising the signs and symptoms of Monkey Dust addiction is crucial for early intervention and treatment. Monkey Dust addiction symptoms vary from person to person based on their usage pattern, physical health and individual circumstances. However, some of the potential signs and symptoms of Monkey Dust addiction include:

  • Compulsive seeking and using Monkey Dust, despite the known harmful consequences.
  • Increased secrecy or lying about drug use or whereabouts.
  • Withdrawal from social activities, hobbies or family events that the person used to enjoy.
  • Neglect of responsibilities at work, school or home.
  • Engaging in risky behaviours, such as driving under the influence of Monkey Dust.
  • Noticeable weight loss or changes in appetite.
  • Job loss, financial difficulties and strained or broken relationships with family and friends.
  • Sleep disturbances such as insomnia or an altered sleep schedule.
  • Physical deterioration, such as poor skin condition and dental problems.
  • Mood swings or sudden changes in personality.
  • Increased anxiety, paranoia or panic attacks.

If you or someone you know exhibits these symptoms, it is important to approach the situation with empathy and seek professional assistance as soon as possible.

Why is Monkey Dust addictive?

The addictive potential of Monkey Dust stems from its powerful impact on the brain’s reward system, along with several other factors that make it particularly prone to misuse and dependency. These factors include:

Some people may turn to Monkey Dust as a means of escaping from stress, anxiety or depression, making the drug psychologically addictive as users become reliant on its effects to cope with negative emotions.
Accessibility and affordability
The relatively low cost and ease of access to Monkey Dust contribute to its addictive potential, especially in areas where it is prevalent.
Peer influence
Social environments where drug use is normalised can increase the likelihood of Monkey Dust addiction, as individuals may face pressure to use the substance and fit in with their friends.
Underlying mental health issues
People with pre-existing mental health conditions may use Monkey Dust as a form of self-medication as the drug’s intense euphoric effects can initially provide some relief from symptoms. Over time, however, this can exacerbate the underlying condition and create a cycle of addiction.
Unresolved trauma
Those with unresolved trauma may also turn to Monkey Dust as a way to numb or escape their pain. However, this reliance on Monkey Dust can quickly lead to addiction, further complicating a person’s ability to heal from their traumatic experiences.
People with a family history of substance abuse are at a higher risk of developing addictions themselves, including to Monkey Dust. Genetic factors can influence how a person’s brain responds to certain substances, potentially making the euphoric effects of drugs more pronounced and rewarding which combined with the other above factors, can increase the likelihood of Monkey Dust addiction.

How Monkey Dust addiction is treated

Treating Monkey Dust addiction requires a multi-faceted approach that addresses both the physical and psychological aspects of the addiction. Given the complexity of the drug’s effects on the brain and body, Sanctuary Lodge provides a combination of:

  • Monkey Dust detox: The first step in treating Monkey Dust addiction is to safely remove the drug from the individual’s system. Our drug detox process is led and supervised by our team of medical professionals who help to manage the potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms.
  • Monkey Dust rehab: Our drug rehab programme offers structured therapy sessions which help our clients understand the triggers of their Monkey Dust use, develop coping strategies and build a supportive network.
  • Aftercare support: Ongoing support is crucial for maintaining sobriety and preventing relapse. At Sanctuary Lodge, our aftercare programme involves free group therapy for a year which provides the resources and support necessary for continued recovery.

Get help for Monkey Dust addiction

If you or someone you know is struggling with Monkey Dust addiction, it is crucial to seek professional help as soon as possible. The path to recovery can be challenging, but with the right support and treatment, overcoming addiction is possible. Sanctuary Lodge offers comprehensive treatment in a supportive environment where you can build a foundation for a drug-free life. Contact Sanctuary Lodge today to learn more about how we can help.


Is Monkey Dust the same as spice?
No, Monkey Dust and Spice are not the same substance. Monkey Dust, also known as MDPV (Methylenedioxypyrovalerone), is a synthetic cathinone that acts as a powerful stimulant, leading to heightened alertness, euphoria and sometimes severe paranoia or hallucinations. Spice refers to a range of synthetic cannabinoids, which are chemicals designed to mimic the effects of THC, the psychoactive component in cannabis. While both are considered synthetic or “designer” drugs, their chemistry and effects are quite different.
What class drug is Monkey Dust?
Monkey Dust is currently a Class B drug in the UK but there is currently serious consideration about reclassifying it as a Class A drug. This is the classification for the most dangerous drugs which reflects the very real risks of Monkey Dust abuse and addiction.

(Click here to see works cited)

  • Alcohol and Drug Foundation. “‘Monkey dust’ – busting the myths.” Alcohol and Drug Foundation, 20 January 2019, Accessed 26 February 2024.
  • GOV.UK. “Government seeks advice on ‘monkey dust.’” GOV.UK, 11 May 2023, Accessed 26 February 2024.
  • The Independent. “What is monkey dust? The drug that is making people jump from buildings and eat glass.” The Independent, 11 May 2023, Accessed 26 February 2024.
  • Substance Misuse Resources. “Substance Misuse Resources.” drug and alcohol resources, Accessed 26 February 2024.
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