What is MDA?
MDA (or 3,4-Methylenedioxyamphetamine) is a so-called "psychedelic amphetamine". It is in the same chemical family as mescaline (phenethylamines) and is a close cousin to MDMA. While MDA and MDMA are very similar, there are some important differences between the two that will be discussed throughout this FAQ.
What is the History of MDA?
MDA was first synthesized in 1910 by German chemists G. Mannish and W. Jacobson. UCLA researcher Gordon Alles (who also discovered amphetamine) studied and ingested MDA several time in the 1950's. His work and publishing led to the recreational use of MDA in the early Sixties, often sold as the "hug drug". (1)
Is MDA legal?
No. MDA, like MDMA is Schedule 1 in the US, making it illegal to buy, sell, or possess w/o a license. MDA is Schedule 1/Class A in the UK and Australia, and other countries have followed suit in banning MDA. If in doubt, check your governmentís laws to be sure.
How does MDA work?
The action of all psychedelics (which MDA and MDMA both count as) is poorly understood. In laymenís terms, we believe that MDA acts on the serotonin (5ht) system by entering the neuron via the reuptake pump. This cause 5ht to flood the brain, producing the drugs effects. While MDMA is rather specifically targeted to one type of neuron (5ht1, which manages mood), MDA affects a more broad range of 5ht neurons, including the 5ht2 sites that are responsible for managing perception. It is for this reason that MDA is considered more of a true psychedelic than MDMA, as overexcitiation of 5ht2 sites produces visual distortions (wrongly called hallucinations). All known psychedelics are considered to work primarily at the 5ht2 sites to some degree.
While MDA is affecting the serotonin system causing the increase in mood and the visual effects, the 5ht released also causes dopamine (DA) and norepinephrine (NE). While it has not been proven, it is thought that MDA might have a more potent effect on the DA and NE systems than MDMA. Dopamine is the reward or pleasure drug of the brain, and norepinephrine is the chemical responsible for the "speedy" feeling you get on MDA. Other drugs which cause an increase in the levels of DA and/or NE are cocaine, amphetamine/meth, caffeine and nicotine.
What about testing for MDA?
The standard Marquis regent tests only for the presence of MDxx substances, not specifically MDMA or MDA. As MDA is structurally similar to MDMA, the reaction will be the same. AFAIK, no regent on the market is able to discern between the different types of MDxx drugs (2).
Is MDA put in pills on purpose, or is it a byproduct of MDMA?
MDA isnít made accidentally, nor is it considered a cut. The making of MDA is not the same as MDMA (though similar) so the chemists either made MDA on purpose, or did the wrong reaction entirely (4). Some people believe that MDA is not "real" ecstasy, while others prefer it, but in either case unless you know the chemist who made your ecstasy personally, or have access to highly expensive lab equipment, you are not going to know if you have MDA or not until you take the pill.
What forms does MDA come in and how should I take it?
MDA is an off-white powder, which normally comes in a pressed pill form, though gelcaps and just powder are sometimes encountered (NOTE: the form you get MDxx in has nothing to do with purity. Just because you got powder does not mean it was not cut). As for how to take MDA, that is up to you. The most commonly used options are: swallowing the pill, chewing the pill, sublingually (letting it dissolve under your tongue), snorting the pill, and plugging the pill (rectal insertion). All of these methods work, though they have different absorption percentages. Swallowing is the most common method. Chewing, parachuting and sublingual administration all hit a little faster than swallowing. Snorting hits much faster than the other methods, is a stronger trip, but only lasts for a couple hours at the most. Plugging has the highest absorption rate and lasts for the same amount of time as swallowing. Methods of Administration FAQ
You forgot about IV!
No, I didn't. Most people who have experienced this have stated it was TOO powerful, and did not desire to repeat it. IVing was a common practice in the 70's, and early 80's, and is still done in recent times. Injecting drugs of any kind can be dangerous for even the most experienced user, so please use caution, and be sure you know what you are doing before you go through with it. Please read the "Intravenous and Intramuscular Injection" FAQ for more information.
IV MDA is one of the most intense experiences you could imagine. It's not like taking the drug any other way. Some people enjoy it, while some people find it to be too intense, and rather uncomfortable. There is an extreme "rush", followed by sometimes hours of open eye visuals. IV MDA is extremely dose sensitive. As little as 15mg of variance can mean the difference between an enjoyable experience, and total hell. If you decide to use this drug in this manner, please be very careful. You must have pure MDA powder in order to do this. IV administration of pills can be detrimental to your health.
So what's the oral dosage for MDA?
The common amount needed is between 100-150mg. For some the range can go down to 75mg, while others need upwards of 170mg. (3) As with all drugs, if it is your first time using it, start low and work your way up in case you are sensitive to the drug. Also, remember that as almost all MDA is in pill form, you will not know exactly how much is drug and how much is binder. Be careful in your doses, as increased dose is thought to be related to neurotoxicity.
What is the experience like?
The effects of MDA are very similar to MDMA. I want to focus on how MDA feels opposed to MDMA. As MDA is not as potent at the 5ht1 sites (see above) the mood lift as compared to MDMA is thought to be less. Still there, but less. Since MDA acts much more on the dopamine and norepinephrine systems, it is considered to be speedier than MDMA. People often report the unstoppable urge to dance and move all night on MDA. The visual factor is much more pronounced, especially the closed eye visuals (cevs). With a higher does, oevs are possible. This seems to come into effect later in the trip for most people. MDA is considered to have a harsher comedown with more day after negative effects.
The times are similar to that of MDMA as well. Usually it takes an hour to 1.5 hours for the effects to build to the peak, followed by 2-5 hours of experience, then a period of after effects and "comedown" lasting a couple hours (3). It was once thought that MDA lasted significantly longer than MDMA, as Dr. Shulgin reported 8-12 hrs in PIHKAL. This has been resolved, and now it is believed that MDA might last only slightly longer than MDMA.
What kind of negative effects can I get from MDA?
Well, you can die. No Iím not joking. MDxx drugs are considered to be relatively safe, but if you take them irresponsibly, then the risk of death or serious bodily harm are increased greatly. MDA is a stimulant. Heart rate, blood pressure, etc all increase. If you have any type of preexisting cardiac condition, this could be fatal to you. It is possible that those with CYP2D6 enzyme deficiency may be more susceptible to MDxx overdoses, as that enzyme is thought to play a role in metabolizing MDA. This is not certain however. There is serotonin syndrome, a condition where the high levels of serotonin released by MDA can cause hyperthermia (over heating), seizures and death. The more benign side effects include a panic reaction (bad trips happen, even on these drugs), jaw clenching, high body temperature, muscle aches from overexertion, and dehydration (though this can become fatal if not careful).
What about neurotoxicity? Is MDA more damaging than MDMA?
I wish I could give an answer to this, but it just isn't known. MDMA hasnít been proven to be neurotoxic at recreational levels, thought I would assume that it is to some degree. I would also venture that MDA is more toxic than MDMA.
One method of neurotoxicity is the dopamine theory. It works like this: MDA enters the brain, causing the release of serotonin, dopamine, etc. As the 5ht system is much slower than the DA system in replenishing itself, the serotonin runs low. Now you are left with a high level of dopamine, which may get picked up by the 5ht receptors. As dopamine isnít designed to "fit" in those receptors, this can damage them. It is unknown the extent of this damage, or what effects this might have. Seeing as how MDA is a more potent releaser of dopamine than MDMA is, I would venture to say that it is more neurotoxic.
Note: Another method of neurotoxicity could be from toxic metabolites of MDA. Both the dopamine theory and the toxic metabolite theory have supporters. It is entirely possible that one, both, or neither of these theories is correct.
Now, many things are neurotoxic, alcohol for one. Even if it is shown that recreational use of MDxx is toxic, then we still must look at three things: how toxic, to what sites, and is the damage permanent. As MDA was used extensively in the 1960ís and 70ís, I am doubtful of it being extremely dangerous, but you never know. Time will tell on this issue.
Can I combine MDA with other drugs?
No drug combination is really safe. The risks could be divided into three categories: ones with the fewest reported physical problems, ones with a higher chance of problems and ones that are dangerous.
Drugs with a small chance of problems in combination with MDA
Drugs with a higher chance of problems in combination with MDA
- Speed (amp/meth)-may increase toxicity (can be dangerous to combine stimulants)
- Alcohol (can increase dehydration)
- MDMA (no cross tolerance between the two, same dangers as speed, plus increased risk of serotonin syndrome)
- LSD/Mushrooms/Mescaline (no physical dangers noted, may be overwhelming mentally)
Drugs that are dangerous in combination with MDA
- MAOIís (monoamine oxide is the chemical that breaks down 5ht, increased risk of serotonin syndrome, very dangerous)
- DXM (may interfere with the enzyme that breaks down MDA, plus affects bodyís ability to regulate temperature)
- Ritonavir (prescription protease inhibitor, can be life threatening to take with MDA)
If you chose to use a combination, realize that the effects of the two drugs will not just be added together, they can be many times more powerful than a single drug. Be sure you fully understand your body's reaction to both drugs you wish to combine, and take smaller doses of both than you normally would.
I preload/postload when using MDMA, will this help with MDA?
Depends on what you use to pre/post load. 5-htp, vitamins, magnesium are all still good things to take. Some prefer to post load with Prozac on MDMA, and this will still give protection with MDA. Any preloads for the purpose of enhancing the experience that does not have a protective purpose (as 5-htp does) should be avoided to be safe. For instance, taking L-tyrosine to try and make your high more pleasurable (debatable if it works) could increase the risk of neurotoxicity by increasing your dopamine levels.
What can I do to be safe?
If you want to be absolutely safe from the effects of these or any other drug, DO NOT TAKE THE DRUG. You can minimize these risks by using basic common sense. If you have any medical condition that would make taking any type of stimulant dangerous, do not take the drug. If you are in the middle of an emotional crisis, mental instability, or other problems, do not take the drug unless you are willing to risk getting worse. Do not take a large amount of pills at once. Space your times taking the pills, once every 6-8 weeks is usually acceptable. Test your pills. It is safer not to combine drugs, but if you chose to, some are more dangerous than others. Some combinations can kill (see below). Drink and adequate amount of water, esp. if you are dancing all night. 500ml/hour is considered to be good enough for most, but you may be different. Be careful, as too little water (dehydration) as well as too much water (hyponatremia) can be life threatening.
(1) Psychedelics Encyclopedia 3rd edition. Peter Stafford
(4) Total synthesis II. Strike
(5) PIHKAL. Dr. Alexander Shulgin (referred to throughout the entire FAQ)