N-ethyl-nor-hexedrone (Hexen) is a stimulant in the cathinone class. It’s only been on the market since ~2015 and little more than anecdotal reports exist about its activity.
It’s become somewhat popular due to its recreational potential. People have turned to the drug as an alternative to methamphetamine, cocaine, alpha-PHP, and alpha-PVP, among other recreational stimulants. It’s most often used via fast-acting routes of administration (e.g. intranasal and inhalation) to maximize its recreational effects.
Though most people are pursuing euphoria when using it, the drug may be used as a productive stimulant at low to common doses.
Hexen = N-ethyl-nor-hexedrone; N-Ethylhexedrone; α-ethylaminocaprophenone
Molecular formula: C14H21NO
Molecular weight: 219.33 g/mol
- Light: 10 – 25 mg
- Common: 25 – 40 mg
- Strong: 40 – 50 mg
- Light: 2 – 5 mg
- Common: 5 – 10 mg
- Strong: 10 – 20 mg
- Total: 2 – 4 hours
- Onset: 00:05 – 00:15
- Total: 1 – 3 hours
- Onset: 00:02 – 00:10
Residual stimulation lacking euphoria tends to persist for at least a few hours after the core effect period. It can either be uncomfortable or pleasant. Sometimes this period of potentially uncomfortable stimulation begins just an hour after administration.
- Mood lift
- Greater talkativeness
- Increased sociability
- Increased confidence
- Physical euphoria
- Increased motivation
- Increased heart rate
- Increased blood pressure
- Jaw clenching
- Dry mouth
- Muscle tension
A lot of comparisons to cocaine have been made due to its short duration and ability to cause a pleasant “rush.” Though those comparisons are common, a lot of people find they’re substantially different, often with cocaine considered an overall superior substance due to a potentially lower propensity to become uncomfortable, scatterbrained, and anxious. It’s been suggested a better comparison may be to cathinones like alpha-PHP and alpha-PVP.
The drug does have a strong stimulant effect, surpassing that of a typical methylphenidate or caffeine dose. It may be stronger in this regard than amphetamine.
If you restrict yourself to common doses, it may be clearheaded (albeit with faster thinking) and even useful for productive applications. Once you’re using larger amounts and/or redosing, it’s easy to end up impaired and you can produce a state that’s not conducive to working.
Overall, a lot of the positive effects (mood lift, concentration enhancement, sociability, clearheadedness) can decline or disappear with a few redoses or large amounts.
Common to strong doses can produce pleasurable feelings around the body, including sensations of warmth and tingling.
Peripheral stimulation easily becomes noticeable at common+ doses, with users reporting signs of vasoconstriction (e.g. cold fingers) and heart palpitations.
Some of the greatest problems (e.g. severe comedowns, stimulant psychosis, paranoia, and hallucinations) occur with extended multi-day binges or with really heavy use during a single day, such as a few hundred milligrams or more. Its somewhat compulsive nature increases the likelihood of people’s use getting out of hand, thereby leading to those problems.
Rush & Euphoria
Especially with a strong dose via a fast-onset ROA (e.g. intranasal, inhalation) it can produce a rush of stimulation, euphoria, and sometimes a momentary sense of calm and peace. This quickly gives way to a substantially enhanced mood and greater engagement in whatever you’re doing. The rush is less prominent or nonexistent when lower amounts are taken.
Usually the rush declines or disappears after repeat dosing. By the time you’ve taken a few redoses, the same positive effects don’t consistently return. Stimulation continues to come back, but the core activity people are usually pursuing doesn’t stick around indefinitely.
Despite its euphoric potential, some users come away disliking the drug because it so easily produces undesirable effects if you try to maintain the euphoria for a long period of time.
And some portion of users don’t get especially strong euphoria from the start. Just like any stimulant, its ability to produce the desired recreational effects is partly dependent on the user.
Stimulants are generally going to be compulsive for some users if they have sufficiently recreational properties, especially if their duration is short. That applies to hexen.
If you have trouble controlling your use under the influence, you’re best off avoiding the drug. At the least, you should restrict the amount you have access to ahead of time.
Because the best effects can begin to go away within just 30-60 minutes, redosing is incentivized. After just a few redoses you’re primarily taking it to avoid a comedown and although the stimulation persists, there’s a rising level of anxiety, paranoia, and physical stimulation. At that point it may just be generally uncomfortable.
Some individuals have reported staying up for days because of compulsive use. This comes with a high chance of stimulant psychosis and paranoia.
If you’re going to redose, you should plan out your doses ahead of time. Don’t decide how to use it in the heat of moment. When you’re on the drug it may continue feeling like it’s the right time to take more long after it actually is.
Euphoria declines in just 30-60 minutes and for some people they’re already experiencing a comedown within an hour or two. Most users report a comedown when sufficient doses are used, particularly with repeat administration. Generally it’s described as quite unpleasant, though perhaps not as bad as alpha-PVP.
The symptoms can include dysphoria, irritability, restlessness, depression, low motivation, and insomnia.
Because those symptoms quickly show up, people will often redose to keep the positive effects going. This unfortunately has the effect of making the eventual comedown worse, so it’s not recommended.
Comedown severity varies based on personal susceptibility and dose. It can range from some fatigue and irritability to severe depression.
Usually psychosis will only appear once you’ve skipped at least one night of sleep, but really heavy use on a single day can trigger psychotic symptoms, including paranoia and hallucinations.
Psychosis is a legitimate and serious concern with overuse.
Those who are naturally prone to visual distortions, paranoia, and other odd symptoms from natural sleep deprivation should be even more careful. No one should take it to avoid sleep.
Chemistry & Pharmacology
Hexen is the n-ethyl derivative of hexedrone. It also has structural similarities to alpha-PHP, with the nitrogen in the pyrrolidine ring of alpha-PHP instead being bonded to an ethyl moiety and a hydrogen in hexen.
The drug is similar in structure and homologous to N-ethyl-nor-pentedrone, another research chemical stimulant.
Its pharmacology is unknown. Considering its observed activity in humans and its structure, it’s thought to act as a reuptake inhibitor for dopamine and norepinephrine, making it an NDRI. Though it could conceivably function at non-transporter targets or be a monoamine releaser.
Based on the effects, it seems to have substantially more impact on dopamine and norepinephrine than on serotonin.
It was originally mentioned in a patent on aminoketone derivatives from Boehringer Ingelheim, a German pharmaceutical company. The patent discussed new α-secondary-aminoketones with potentially valuable pharmacological properties.
2015 – 2016
No research was conducted and nothing was done with hexen until ~2015, when it appeared on the research chemical market.
From 2015 to 2016, multiple law enforcement agencies around Europe reported seizures of the drug. Some of the shipments were coming from China, including in bulk quantities.
Seizures reported to the EMCDDA in 2015 and 2016:
- Belgium – 3 seizures totaling 50 grams of powder, coming from China. Seizures were in October and November 2015.
- Czech Republic – A seizure of 1 gram from February 2016.
- Germany – Collected 10 grams of powder from a Chinese online shop. This took place in November 2015.
- Netherlands – Seized 3 kilograms in December 2015. The circumstances of the seizure were listed as “distribution.”
- Slovenia – Collected a sample of 0.14 grams of white powder in January 2016.
- Hungary – Seizure of 2.57 grams in January 2016.
Legal Status (As of December 2017)
Not specifically controlled, but it could be covered by the Analog Act.
Australia: May be treated as a controlled drug due to its analog status.
Canada: Schedule 1
UK: Class B
Very little is known about its safety. It’s best to use it infrequently, at common doses, and without combinations.
The drug does increase cardiovascular stress. Those with cardiovascular disorders are best off avoiding it entirely.
It likely increases seizure susceptibility. Those with epilepsy are best off avoiding the drug entirely.
A large portion of intranasal experience reports mention it being painful and causing runny nose, bleeding, or seemingly obstructed breathing for a short time after periods of use.
If taken via this route, chronic use can conceivably cause tissue damage. It’s best to limit intranasal use even further.
Risky combos (list may not be complete)
Other stimulants, tramadol, MAOIs, and psychedelics.
Blanckaert, P. (2016). Fact Sheet – N-ethyl hexedrone.
Liu, C., Jia, W., Li, T., Hua, Z., & Qian, Z. (2017). Identification and analytical characterization of nine synthetic cathinone derivatives N -ethylhexedrone, 4-Cl-pentedrone, 4-Cl- α -EAPP, propylone, N -ethylnorpentylone, 6-MeO-bk-MDMA, α -PiHP, 4-Cl- α -PHP, and 4-F- α -PHP. Drug Testing and Analysis, 9(8), 1162–1171. https://doi.org/10.1002/dta.2136