N-Ethyl-nor-pentedrone (NEP) is a novel cathinone stimulant that entered the market in the mid-2010s. It is short-acting, with a single dose only producing its core effects for a couple hours. Because the total duration is short and euphoria declines even faster than stimulation, NEP is frequently binged for one or more days.
Although it can produce a euphoric rush, particularly with rapid-onset routes of administration (ROAs), NEP’s rush is relatively weak. Aside from the rush, its effects consistent of modest mood enhancement, stimulation, restlessness, talkativeness, and a tendency to be scatterbrained and unfocused.
Some users take one or two doses, akin to using a classic amphetamine, but most report taking a larger number of redoses. Repeated dosing may be genuinely enjoyable since it can offer prolonged mood enhancement, but often it is not very pleasant After a few doses or large amounts, NEP can lose most of its mood enhancement and the somewhat positive effects of the “rush” shorten in duration.
Experience Report Summaries and Article PDF: Link
N-ethyl-nor-pentedrone = NEP; N-ethylpentedrone; Ethyl-pentedrone; alpha-Ethylaminopentiophenone; N-ethylaminopentiophenone
PubChem ID: 205593
Molecular formula: C13H19NO
Molecular weight: 205.3 g/mol
- Section 1: Routes of Administration, Timeline, and Dose
- Section 2: Effects
- Section 3: Chemistry
- Section 4: Pharmacology
- Section 5: History
- Section 6: Legal Status
- Section 7: Safety
- Section 8: References
Section 1: Routes of Administration, Timeline, and Dose
The most common ROAs are intranasal and inhalation, though it is sometimes taken orally or rectally. Oral administration can reduce the side effects and the mental effects may be more functional due to the slower onset, reduced peak, and longer duration. However, NEP tends to be a poor option for increasing focus regardless of ROA.
NEP typically lacks a substantial rush and the likelihood of experiencing one is further reduced when its taken orally.
- Light: 10-20 mg
- Common: 20-30 mg
- Strong: 30-40+ mg
- Total: 1.5 – 3 hours
- Onset: 5 – 10 min
- Light: 10 – 20 mg
- Common: 20 – 30 mg
- Strong: 30 – 40+ mg
- Total: 1 – 2.5 hours
- Onset: <5 minutes
- Light: 20 – 30 mg
- Common: 30 – 50 mg
- Strong: 50 – 60+ mg
- Total: 2.5 – 4 hours
- Onset: 25 – 40 min
- Light: 10 – 20 mg
- Common: 20 – 40 mg
- Strong: 40 – 50+ mg
- Total: 2 – 3 hours
- Onset: 10 – 20 min
Section 2: Effects
This overview describes the general effects of NEP based on subjective reports from ~300 people (see: NEP experience report document). As with most drugs, there is no universal NEP experience and it can feel very different depending on the user. Therefore, this description should not be viewed as applicable to all users, but rather as a composite of a common NEP experience.
- Stimulation and wakefulness
- Mood enhancement
- Greater talkativeness and sociability
- Relatively smooth stimulation at common doses, i.e. minimal bodyload
- Increased motivation
- Nasal discomfort and irritation when snorted
- Anxiety and paranoia
- Increased heart rate, palpitations, and a racing heart sensation
- Increased blood pressure
- Vision impairment (e.g. blurriness, difficult to focus on nearby objects/text)
- This is often caused by heavy doses and binging.
- Vasoconstriction and cold extremities
- Scatterbrained and brain fog
- Muscle tension, bruxism, and jaw soreness
- Dry mouth
- Urinary retention
2.1 Cognitive, Psychology, and Perceptual
A brief euphoric rush can occur with fast-onset ROAs, but usually the rush is unimpressive and inferior to that of hexen. When present, it quickly subsides within 5-10 minutes. Many users find the initial effects are limited to a rapid increase in energy with minimal euphoria.
After the onset, the most enjoyable effects last around 45-60 minutes, shifting to plain stimulation for the rest of the duration. Minor to moderate mood enhancement is more common than euphoria.
Redosing is very common, but some users enjoy the post-peak effects, in which case quick redosing is not necessary.
NEP is highly stimulating and can increase your interest in completing tasks, but task-switching usually overrides whatever functional potential it could otherwise have.
Anxiety and Paranoia
At common doses, anxiety is absent or mild. Prolonged redosing and large doses greatly increase the risk of anxiety, and users may experience a highly activated state in which they struggle to focus, are restless, and sociability is impaired. The stressful psychological effects may be amplified by a racing or pounding heart and an inability to calm oneself, which keep users from feeling comfortable in their body and environment.
Anxiety and discomfort can contribute to paranoia, which becomes more likely with severe sleep deprivation and multiday binges. As with other stimulants, people can become suspicious of other people and normal activities. This is a very fragile state and there is a high risk of the anxiety and paranoia expanding into delusions that could ultimately produce traumatizing experiences and dangerous behavior.
Redosing and Compulsiveness
Redosing is nearly the standard way to use NEP because of its short duration and frequently lackluster effects once the early effects and rush are gone. Users try to maintain the early effects by using more, often redosing every 40-60 minutes, though some people wait hours before taking another dose. Those who space out their doses are often trying to extend the general stimulating and mood elevating effects instead of repeatedly seeking the most powerful initial effects.
NEP’s euphoria can start to decline within 2-3 doses. Eventually, most or all of the euphoria may be lost, with continued use only extending the wakefulness and sense of being altered, along with delaying the comedown.
People can enter a pattern of prolonged redosing while simultaneously reporting it is not pleasant. Their use continues simply to delay the comedown and to increase how long they feel altered. With more redoses, the positive effects become shorter and weaker, so it takes less time to experience the comedown.
Unless you exert self-control and stop redosing, you can enter an almost mindless, robotic state where you redose just for the sake of redosing. The ability to control one’s use varies a lot between individuals and the extent of self-control is not necessarily dependent on how pleasant the effects are, i.e. one person may compulsively redose despite not feeling good, while another can control their use even though they love the effects.
Redosing is not inherently a problem as there are a couple distinct ways it can arise:
- Intentional: Because NEP is short-acting, a user may redose every 1-3 hours to extend the duration, but they are still in control of their use. Some will decide on a specific quantity or number of redoses to use. Others will redose until the negative effects escalate or until continued use would necessitate interfering with sleep and other necessities. At no point does their use become obviously irrational and counterproductive.
- Compulsive: This form of redosing can occur regardless of how pleasant the effects are. Many users experience negligible euphoria, restlessness, and a scatterbrained mental state, yet they are drawn to the drug. In other words, they are taking NEP merely to be altered, not because it feels good or is considered worthwhile by the user.
When a user is thinking and behaving logically, they will usually stop their use before it becomes pointless and they will not chase the few minutes of minimally enjoyable effects produced by each redose. But when people are under the influence, they can find it very hard to stop using, especially with rapid-onset ROAs.
Typically, it is not worthwhile to redose more than 3 to 5 times. The positive effects fall away and the negatives increase, including insomnia, anxiety, paranoia, hallucinations, and restlessness. When someone is compulsively redosing despite experiencing negligible benefit, they are only making their experience and the comedown worse. Unfortunately, as the comedown becomes more uncomfortable and hits faster, redosing can seem like the right choice, but it is only a trap.
It is important to understand that you do not know exactly how you will respond to a new drug. Everyone should approach NEP with care, not overconfidence. Plan out the size and number of redoses you intend to use and stick to that plan even when the habitual part of your brain starts to say, “just one more dose will be fine.”
If it turns out you could have used more, save that information for later instead of pivoting in the moment. Once your use deviates from the plan, “one more” dose frequently turns into far more than that.
If you have struggled with drugs in the past or have good reason to think you will find it hard to resist compulsive use, it is best to avoid NEP entirely. If you still decide to use, consider restricting how much you have access to so that your intake has a hard limit. For example, you can purchase only as much as you would want to use in a session, you can leave the rest with a friend, or you can lock it away.
Because the comedown contributes to excessive redosing, it may be helpful to plan your approach to the comedown, such as having a low-to-moderate dose of a benzodiazepine or gabapentinoid, so long as you do not have a problematic history with those drugs.
It is risky to stack drugs on top of each other to reduce negative effects and this kind of polydrug use can get people in trouble, but if carefully implemented, the impact can be very positive. It is better to find a safe way to alleviate the comedown than to have your use spiral out of control because you are trying to outrun the comedown.
Lastly, if NEP is compulsive when inhaled or snorted, oral use may alleviate much of that problem.
NEP can increase sexual arousal and a minority of users report that it enhances sex with a partner, but most reports pertaining to sexual activity involve masturbation. The drug is stimulating, increases focus on what one is feeling or seeing (e.g. porn), and it can produce pleasurable physical sensations. Because of those properties and other factors, users may masturbate more frequently and sometimes compulsively.
Because heavy use usually causes an effectively non-functional state, especially for complicated mental tasks, sexual activity is one of the easier things to become immersed in.
Those who binge NEP for multiple days often switch between low-effort tasks and masturbation for hours or days. This is by no means universal, but it is common.
Although sexual arousal can increase, other aspects of NEP’s activity, such as vasoconstriction caused by sympathomimetic stimulation, may interfere with sexual function. Males will often find it hard to get and maintain an erection and this may be more difficult with sex than with masturbation.
Productivity and Functionality
Functional effects are occasionally experienced, but they are relatively rare and primarily associated with lower doses and/or oral administration. Even with lower doses and slower-onset ROAs, it can be scatterbrained and hard to focus.
Physical tasks like cleaning may be doable and perhaps more enjoyable, but anything that requires clearheaded mental effort will likely be impaired.
NEP certainly causes mental stimulation, but it is hard to apply that stimulation to a single complex task. Users struggle to complete work and frequently switch between tasks.
In contrast, more clearheaded stimulants like amphetamine, methylphenidate, and 2-FMA, can make it easier to focus on high-effort tasks.
Talkativeness and Sociability
Common doses frequently increase talkativeness, although communication can be somewhat impaired for some users, particularly with heavier use. When large amounts are used, it can be harder to communicate your thoughts and users sometimes become anti-social and introverted because of anxiety, paranoia, and communication impairment.
Entactogenic and “Serotonergic” Effects
A small minority of users report slightly entactogenic or serotonergic effects, i.e. reminiscent of the MDMA experience. The standard experience includes greater talkativeness, but not in a caring or empathetic way, unlike entactogens. However, some people report a more caring form of sociability, with a more genuine interest in what others are experiencing and saying.
Even for those who find it somewhat comparable to entactogens, it is nowhere near the intensity of entactogens like MDMA, MDA, and 6-APB.
Some people have suggested these atypical reports could involve batches where NEP was combined with a more serotonergic cathinone. Because most NEP is never analyzed by third parties, it is unknown whether this is actually a factor.
The reports are inconsistent regarding how much pain and irritation is caused by intranasal NEP. Much of the variation could be from differences in quality. Some batches may contain irritating impurities, while others contain different drugs entirely.
If we try to isolate NEP itself, it seems to cause minor nasal discomfort and it is often described as less irritating than average. A single dose may cause pain and burning for a few minutes, and heavy use can produce significant nasal inflammation and occasionally bleeding. These properties are essentially the same as many other intranasal drugs.
But some users report severe pain, inflammation, burning, and nose bleeding with moderate levels of use. Even if the rest of its effects are enjoyable, the pain can be intense enough that people stop using the drug or they switch to a different route.
In some cases, users have described substantially different effects across batches, with some causing little to no pain and others being almost unbearable. The more painful batches could conceivably contain impurities or different drugs altogether.
Interestingly, a number of reports about the painful batches described them as also causing greater anxiety, heart racing, and less mood elevation. It is unclear whether this involves batch quality or the misrepresentation of other drugs as NEP.
A common effect of some batches is persistent sneezing for 30-60 minutes, with or without severe nasal discomfort. Many of the sneezing reports involved a batch sourced from Europe that was described as having a minty smell. Some users also experienced a bloody or runny nose. When this batch is taken via a different ROA, the irritation/sneezing is mostly avoided, though some users report minor throat irritation or tingling when it is inhaled.
There are contradicting reports about the rest of the effects produced by sneezing-associated batches. Some people find they have essentially the same positives and negatives as other batches, but others describe the experience as almost exclusively negative, consisting of anxiety, palpitations, and an overall uncomfortable feeling.
Muscle Tension and Bruxism
It can cause muscle tension around the body, but often the most noticeable manifestation is bruxism, i.e. jaw clenching and teeth grinding. This is rarely a major problem, but it can cause lingering jaw discomfort for a day or two. During the acute and next-day after effects, the impact is usually limited to mild jaw tension and aching.
The intensity is far less than that of MDMA and other entactogens, though with high doses and binging it can still be substantial. If you plan to use a large amount or are experiencing jaw tension, it can be useful to stretch your jaw every so often and you should try to avoid teeth grinding. Chewing gum can be helpful when experiencing this effect.
Cardiovascular and Chest
The real and subjective effects on cardiovascular activity are minor with common doses, but heavier use frequently causes heart racing and sometimes palpitations, which contribute to restlessness and anxiety.
Common doses minimally affect pupil size. Some dilation can occur with heavier use and sleep deprivation.
NEP may cause ‘numbing’ in the mouth, nose, and throat, depending on the ROA. This is not reported by all users, but it has frequently been mentioned. Whatever numbing property it has does not appear to be adequately reliable or strong to overcome the severe pain caused by snorting certain NEP batches.
Reports differ as to the intensity of tissue numbing. Depending on the user, it has been described as stronger or weaker than numbing induced by hexen, but there are very few reports on this aspect of the drug. NEP should not be expected to cause cocaine-like numbing.
2.3 After Effects
The comedown is rarely severe when one or two standard doses are taken. Users may feel a bit depleted and disinterested, and its residual wakefulness can be uncomfortable, but it is easy to get through the experience. Heavier use, particularly over an extended period, can produce a very uncomfortable comedown.
With heavy use, you may experience heart racing, restlessness, anxiety, paranoia, and insomnia for upwards of 6-12 hours after the final dose. It’s common to have a few hours of insomnia after a single dose wears off, but when large amounts are taken over an extended period, the insomnia can be much more intense.
The more severe cases of insomnia may be resistant to moderate benzodiazepine use, so it can be difficult to sleep even with assistance from other drugs.
The aftereffects are largely limited to the acute comedown such that users wake up the following day feeling mostly back to baseline. Among the potential aftereffects are brain fog, fatigue, reduced motivation, increased heart rate (most often with heavy use), and residual nasal discomfort.
The aftereffects from modest usage are usually minor to moderate in intensity and they resolve on their own within 1-2 days of returning to normal sleep. Heavier use can cause a larger decline in mood, cognitive function, and motivation for up to a few days.
Some of the aftereffects may be partly caused by sleep deprivation, which is one of many reasons that maintaining normal sleep is important. It is best to take NEP early in the day and to limit redosing, otherwise sleep can easily be disrupted for a night or two after the cessation of use, prolonging the aftereffects.
2.4 Comparisons to Other Drugs
Much of the experience is qualitatively reminiscent of hexen, but there are large differences. Hexen often has a stronger initial rush and its effects are more “pushy” or forceful.
NEP is frequently preferred to hexen because its bodyload and other side effects tend to be less substantial, it has a longer duration, the effects feel smoother, and it may cause more mood enhancement and euphoria overall, despite having a weaker rush early on.
It can maintain its effects across more redoses than hexen. Within a few doses, the positive effects of hexen are frequently lost and its side effects become much more prominent, but the positive effects remain greater with NEP, at least during a single day of use.
Because they partly share some important properties, including their kinetic profile (onset, duration), rush, and pro-social stimulation, a minority of users have suggested NEP is comparable to cocaine and some have even claimed its effects are superior. Despite the glowing reports, most people find NEP shares little with cocaine aside from kinetics.
Cocaine is often more pleasurable, the effects are smoother, and it causes more mood enhancement.
While they may be used in similar ways, i.e. with frequent redoses, it would be misleading to describe NEP as similar to cocaine or as a “lighter” version of cocaine. Both are short-acting and can be pro-social, but they are qualitatively distinct.
Methamphetamine and Amphetamine
Aside from them being potentially recreational stimulants, NEP has little in common with amphetamine and methamphetamine. The positives of amphetamine and methamphetamine can easily last hours longer than NEP. The classic amphetamines are also more functional than NEP, with comparatively clearheaded mental states and greater focus enhancement.
The brief effects of NEP can make it a more compulsive drug even though the classic amphetamines may provide more mood enhancement overall.
In general, methamphetamine has a longer duration, a longer and more euphoric rush, and a cleaner feel.
The differences become less noticeable after the first day. With multiday binges, these stimulants cause less euphoria, more paranoia and anxiety, and hallucinations. Users may continue to compulsively redose, but they are left with little more than mere wakefulness.
This combination is usually positive, either with a low to moderate benzodiazepine dose taken concurrently with NEP or with a benzodiazepine taken towards the end of the effect period. Taken concurrently, a low benzodiazepine dose can reduce anxiety, muscle tension, shakiness, heart racing, and restlessness. However, if the dose is too high it can attenuate the positive effects, including stimulation and mood enhancement.
After the main effects of NEP have worn off, benzodiazepines can reduce the duration of insomnia, along with reducing anxiety, residual stimulation (mental and physical), and heart racing.
The NEP + benzodiazepine combination is discussed further in the ‘Risky Combinations’ part of Section 8.
Some people like to combine NEP with hexen. The superior rush of hexen may combine well with the longer duration and smoother effects of NEP, but the combination can also amplify the comedown and greatly increase anxiety, paranoia, and hallucinations unless the doses are carefully controlled.
This combination is discussed further in the ‘Risky Combinations’ part of Section 8.
Section 3: Chemistry
NEP is a close derivative of pentedrone, another long-chain cathinone stimulant, only differing through the presence of an N-ethyl moiety in NEP in place of the N-methyl moiety in pentedrone. NEP is also a homolog of N-ethyl-nor-hexedrone (hexen).
As a cathinone, the structure of NEP features an amphetamine backbone with a β-keto substitution.
It can also be considered a member of the sub-group of ‘long-chain’ cathinones, along with substances like pentedrone, hexedrone, and hexen, which tend to produce roughly similar effects.
Section 4: Pharmacology
NEP almost certainly increases monoamine neurotransmitter activity, particularly dopamine and norepinephrine. Because it has not been studied, its mechanism of action is unknown. Its subjective effects and chemical structure suggest that it works as a norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitor (NDRI), but monoamine releasing activity, interactions with monoamine receptors, or activity at other sites may exist.
Pentedrone, a structurally similar stimulant, functions as an NDRI, not a monoamine releaser (Simmler et al. 2014. This could apply to NEP as well, but more research is needed to determine its mechanism.
Although a minority of users report “serotonergic” or entactogenic effects, most reports indicate NEP is heavily biased towards dopamine and norepinephrine.
Section 5: History
It appears to have entered the market in the mid-2010s and most NEP experience reports have been published since 2016. As of 2020, it is a fairly popular drug in the research chemical market.
Section 6: Legal Status
This section is current as of August 2020.
Schedule 9. NEP is covered by a cathinone blanket ban.
NEP is not explicitly scheduled, but it may be treated as a Schedule I drug due to a ban on derivatives of amphetamine.
Class B. It is covered by a cathinone blanket ban.
It has not been scheduled at the federal level in the US. However, because of its similarity to pentedrone, a Schedule I drug, possession and sale associated with human use could be prosecuted under the Federal Analogue Act.
Section 7: Safety
Because NEP is a research chemical with a limited history of use and a lack of formal research into its safety and effects, little can be said with certainty about its safety profile. Without formal sources of information, a highly tentative safety profile can be constructed based on similar drugs and how people describe the subjective effects.
It increases heart rate and blood pressure, but the magnitude of that increase with common doses is unknown. Because some cardiovascular risks are shared among most psychostimulants, it is safe to assume NEP can cause acute myocardial infarction (heart attack), arrhythmias, and stroke, among other conditions. Those complications will presumably arise from large overdoses, but data supporting that idea is not available.
How easily it produces these complications compared to common stimulants is entirely unknown. For that reason, it should be treated as if the risk is greater than average, and it should be taken more cautiously (i.e. lower dose, reduced frequency) than a well-researched stimulant.
Stimulants usually increase the risk of seizures and they are best avoided in those who have preexisting seizure disorders, unless the drug is medically necessary. There are no case reports of NEP-induced seizure, but it likely has that capacity.
7.3 Psychosis and Delirium
Common stimulants like methamphetamine, amphetamine, and cocaine can cause anxiety, paranoia, unusual thinking, delusions, hallucinations, and behavior that endangers the user and those who are around them. Subjective reports indicate these problems exist with extended NEP use. People who experience psychosis or delirium on stimulants have typically used large amounts over a multiday period, they are severely sleep deprived, and they may have a preexisting mental illness.
The combination of those factors can easily produce states in which people are detached from reality, potentially resulting in dangerous decision making.
Visual distortions can appear within one day of use, usually presenting as blurriness and minor to moderate changes in brightness and color intensity. Those changes are not inherently concerning so long as the user stops taking the drug in a reasonable amount of time.
Compared to classic stimulants, its paranoia, visual distortions, and unusual thinking seem to have a faster onset, which is why people can become anxious, paranoid, and easily startled within one day. But the most concerning effects, like substantial hallucinations and delusions, can almost always be prevented by avoiding sleep deprivation.
7.4 Risky Combinations
This list is not exhaustive.
All of the major risks of NEP are increased when it is taken with other stimulants, particularly when the dosages are not adjusted to account for the additive and synergistic potential of this combination. While it may be fine to take a low dose of two stimulants, often the doses are high, leading to an increase in anxiety, restlessness, confusion, insomnia, and general discomfort.
Tramadol increases seizure risk, particularly with doses of 300-400+ mg, and this could become a greater issue when NEP is taken. NEP-associated seizures have not been mentioned in the medical literature, but they are almost certainly possible and therefore the combination should generally be avoided.
Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
MAOIs amplify the effects of monoaminergic stimulants by further increasing the effects on norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin. This combination should be avoided because it greatly increases NEP’s side effects and health risks.
The confusion and hallucinations caused by psychedelics can become more severe when stimulants like NEP are added. This combination should be avoided because of the elevated risk and because it is difficult to predict how the drugs will interact.
DXM is associated with serotonin toxicity, cardiovascular stimulation, mania, confusion, and hallucinations. These effects will be unpredictably amplified by NEP, so the combination should be avoided.
This section is primarily applicable to benzodiazepines, other GABAergic sedatives may interact differently with NEP.
It is vital that you carefully control your dosing for both drugs. Because NEP can be more comfortable when a benzodiazepine is taken, it is easier to use an excessive amount of NEP, which may be physically dangerous or could become uncomfortable when the benzodiazepine effect begins to subside.
Similarly, it is easier to use an excessive depressant dose because NEP can temporarily mask sedation and impairment. The depressant effects can quickly intensify when the effect of NEP is reduced.
Do not take a higher dose of either substance than would be considered safe if they were used on their own. If you combine them, it should only be to make a normal dose more comfortable or enjoyable.
Section 8: References
Simmler, L. D., Rickli, A., Hoener, M. C., & Liechti, M. E. (2014). Monoamine transporter and receptor interaction profiles of a new series of designer cathinones. Neuropharmacology, 79, 152–160. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropharm.2013.11.008