Chemical Abstracts Service Registry Number: 4764-17-4 Formal Names: Amphedoxamine, 3,4-Methylenedioxyamphetamine Informal Names: Chocolate Mescaline, Hug Drug, Love, Love Pill, Mellow Drug of America
Type: Hallucinogen. See page 25 Federal Schedule Listing: Schedule I (DEA no. 7402) USA Availability: Illegal to possess Pregnancy Category: None
Uses. This drug is a derivative of amphetamine and an analog to MDMA, with effects similar to the latter and to MDEA. MDA is stronger than those two hallucinogens. Researchers also report it to be three to five times stronger than mescaline, to which it is chemically related. MDA is legally defined as a hallucinogen, but its stimulant qualities put it in the entactogen pharmacological class—a type of drug with both stimulant and hallucinogenic qualities. MDA is an illicit drug designer's delight; by the 1970s thousands of offshoots had been made.
First produced in a laboratory in 1910, MDA was intended to help people lose weight. One authority believes the drug has potential for stopping allergic reactions to a variety of allergens. As the 1960s arrived the drug had been patented as a cough suppressant and as a tranquilizer, but MDA never went into legal commercial manufacture.
Reports of MDA's psychological effects date back to the 1930s, but not until three decades later did the substance become a recreational drug. It has the capability to change how a person views time and space. While under the influence a user's hearing and sense of touch can become more sensitive, and a person's sense of identity can alter. Emotions and caring about other persons can intensify, as can ability to communicate feelings. Such aspects allowed MDA to find a niche in psychotherapy as well as on the street. Strong doses can bring on hallucinations, with experiences so similar to LSD and mescaline that users cannot tell whether they were dosed with the latter drugs or with MDA.
Drawbacks. MDA raises heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, and salivation. The substance can cause nausea, along with high acid levels in blood. Although one authority notes that the drug can relax muscles, nonetheless tremors and seizures are also possible; MDA is known to worsen Parkinson's disease. MDA can tense up jaw muscles and cause grinding of teeth. As drug effects go away, users may experience weariness and muscle aches accompanied by depression. Users coming off the drug may also be short-tempered, suspicious of others, and nervous. Typically the effects desired by a user decline with repeated use of the drug, while undesired postintoxication effects increase. MDA can cause organic brain damage in rats, in some aspects worse than what MDMA does.
Overdose symptoms resemble those of amphetamine and MDMA, including massive perspiration and strange conduct prone to combativeness. The percentage of fatalities among abusers is small, but the size difference between a recreational dose and a serious overdose can vary tremendously between individuals. What one person can tolerate without apparent ill effect can send another person to a hospital. Blood and urine tests in one fatal overdose case showed only MDA, demonstrating that this drug can be lethal even when it is not part of a polydrug abuse mix.
Men may suffer fewer ill effects from MDA than women do. In one animal study documenting a gender difference in effects, male rats showed a higher body temperature increase than female rats did, but blood levels of MDA stayed higher in the female.
Abuse factors. Not enough scientific information to report about tolerance, dependence, or withdrawal. In animal experiments self-administration is a traditional sign of addictive potential; rats show mild interest in self-administration of MDA.
Drug interactions. Animal experiments suggest that taking certain drugs along with MDA can reduce its toxicity.
Cancer. MDA causes cancer in mice and rats, with males being more susceptible than females.
Pregnancy. Not enough scientific information to report.
Additional information. At one time MDA was nicknamed Ecstasy, but that street name was later transferred to MDMA. An industrial chemical called MDA (methylene dianiline) is not the drug of abuse.
Additional scientific information may be found in:
Climko, R.P., et al. "Ecstacy: A Review of MDMA and MDA." International Journal of
Psychiatry in Medicine 16 (1986-1987): 359-72. Hegadoren, K.M., G.B. Baker, and M. Bourin. "3,4-Methylenedioxy Analogues of Amphetamine: Defining the Risks to Humans." Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews 23 (1999): 539-53. Poklis, A., M.A. Mackell, and W.K. Drake. "Fatal Intoxication from 3,4-Methylenediox-
yamphetamine." Journal of Forensic Sciences 24 (1979): 70-75. Richards, R.N. "Experience with MDA." Canadian Medical Association Journal 106 (1972): 256-59.
Richards, K.C., and H.H. Borgstedt. "Near Fatal Reaction to Ingestion of the Hallucinogenic Drug MDA." Journal of the American Medical Association 218 (1971): 1826-27.
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