|Summary sheet: MDA|
|Common names||MDA, Sass, Sally, Tenamfetamine|
|Systematic name||(R) 1-(benzo[1,3]dioxol-5-yl)propan-2-amine|
|Psychoactive class||Entactogen / Stimulant / Psychedelic|
|Chemical class||Amphetamine / MDxx|
|Routes of Administration|
3,4-Methylenedioxyamphetamine (also known as MDA, and Tenamfetamine, or colloquially as "Sally", "Sass", or "Sass-a-frass") is a synthetic entactogen of the amphetamine chemical class. It produces long-lived entactogenic, stimulant and mild psychedelic effects that include stimulation, anxiety suppression, enhanced feelings of empathy, affection, and sociability, and euphoria when administered.
MDA was first synthesized in 1910 but its psychoactive effects were not discovered until in 1930. It was used in animal and human trials between 1939 and 1941 and from 1949 to 1957. More than 500 human subjects were given MDA in an investigation of its potential use as either an antidepressant or anorectic. By 1958, it was successfully patented as a cough suppresant and ataractic. By 1961 it was patented as an anorectic under the trade name "Amphedoxamine".
As with MDMA, MDA is thought to act primarily as a serotonin-norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitor and releasing agent. However, MDA is significantly more potent by weight and subjective intensity relative to MDMA. It also has a notably longer duration (six to eight hours instead of three to five) and produces more traditional serotonergic psychedelic effects (such as visual distortions) along with appreciably higher activity on dopamine, which is also believed to be responsible for the greater degree of neurotoxicity it produces.
Today, possession of MDA is illegal in most countries, although some limited exceptions exist for scientific and medical research.
History and culture
MDA was originally synthesized by G. Mannish and W. Jacobson in 1910. However, its psychoactive effects were not discovered until the self-experiments of Gordon Alles in July 1930. Alles would later license the drug to Smith, Kline & French. The first animal tests occurred in 1939, followed by human trials in 1941 that explored it as a possible therapy for Parkinson's disease. From 1949 to 1957, more than 500 human subjects were given MDA in an investigation of its potential use as an antidepressant and anorectic by Smith, Kline & French.
The United States Army also experimented with the drug, code-named EA-1298, while working to develop a truth drug or incapacitating agent. A man named Harold Blauer died in January 1953 after being intravenously injected with 450 mg of the drug.
MDA was eventually patented as a cough suppressant by H. D. Brown in 1958, as an ataractic by Smith, Kline & French in 1960, and as an anorectic under the trade name "Amphedoxamine" in 1961. MDA began to appear on the recreational drug scene around 1967. In early 1968, the Bureau of Drug Abuse Control reported the seizure of over 1.4 kilograms of MDA and 11 kilograms of precursors from a clandestine laboratory in New York.
In 1992, a huge batch of pills known as "Snowballs" came into mass circulation in Europe, that unexpectedly contained MDA instead of MDMA. The batch unleashed a wave of extraordinary hallucinations across the UK and Europe that year, since the chemists had inaccurately dosed the pills with almost 200 mg of the active substance, which is generally enjoyed at lower amounts.
Several researchers, including Claudio Naranjo and Richard Yensen, have explored utilizing MDA in the field of psychotherapy. In 2010, Matthew Baggott and colleagues studied the ability of MDA to invoke mystical experiences and alter vision in healthy volunteers.
MDA, also known as 3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine, is a synthetic molecule of the amphetamine family. Molecules of the amphetamine class contain a phenethylamine core featuring a phenyl ring bound to an amino (NH2) group through an ethyl chain with an additional methyl substitution at Rα. MDA also contains substitutions at R3 and R4 of the phenyl ring with oxygen groups. These oxygen groups are incorporated into a methylenedioxy ring through a methylene chain. MDA shares this methylenedioxy ring with MDMA, MDAI and more obscure variants like MDEA or MMDA.
MDA acts as a releasing agent and reuptake inhibitor of the neurotransmitters known as serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. It also functions as a 5-HT2A, 5-HT2B, and 5-HT2C receptor agonist and shows affinity for the TAAR1, α2A-, α2B-, α2C-adrenergic receptors and 5-HT1A and 5-HT7 receptors.
The effect on serotonin may explain the similar euphoric and empathogenic effects of the two compounds MDMA and MDA. However, MDA has a higher efficacy in stimulating the 5-HT2A receptor than MDMA; thus MDA tends to cause more psychedelic-like effects, such as visual geometry and hallucinations. While MDMA can also produce psychedelic-like visual effects, these are less pronounced than those of MDA or require a heavier dose to become apparent. It is worth noting that the role of these interactions and how they result in the psychedelic experience continues to remain elusive.
While MDA is similar to MDMA, users report that MDA has more stimulant and psychedelic qualities and less intense entactogenic effects than MDMA. MDA is also considered to be less predictable than MDMA, with effects varying greatly from person to person.
Disclaimer: The effects listed below cite the Subjective Effect Index (SEI), a research literature based on anecdotal reports and the personal experiences of PsychonautWiki contributors. As a result, they should be regarded with a healthy degree of skepticism. It is worth noting that these effects will not necessarily occur in a predictable or reliable manner, although higher doses are more liable to induce the full spectrum of effects. Likewise, adverse effects become much more likely with higher doses and may include addiction, serious injury, or death.
- Stimulation & Sedation - In terms of its effects on the user's physical energy levels, MDA is commonly considered to have the paradoxical ability to both be stimulating as well as sedating and relaxing. While MDA is described as being more "speedy" than MDMA, as attributed of its higher dopamine transporter affinity. it can also produce a pronounced sedating stoning or couch-locking effect depending on one's set and setting. Unlike MDMA, this can both discourage or encourage activities such as group socializing and dancing in a way that makes it a popular substance for musical events such as festivals and raves.
- Spontaneous physical sensations - The "body high" of MDA can be described as a moderate to extreme euphoric tingling sensation that radiates throughout the entire body. It is capable of becoming overwhelmingly pleasurable at higher doses and capable of immobilizing the user. This sensation maintains a consistent presence that steadily rises with the onset and hits its limit once the peak has been reached.
- Physical euphoria - The physical euphoria MDA has been noted to produce is often described as intensely pleasurable and all-encompassing at its peak.
- Tactile enhancement - One may find surfaces such as rugs, carpets, blankets, or skin to be softer and more pleasant to the touch while under the influence of this subject's effects.
- Bodily control enhancement
- Vibrating vision - At high doses, a person's eyeballs may begin to spontaneously wiggle back and forth in a rapid motion, causing the vision to become blurry and temporarily out of focus. This is a condition known as nystagmus.
- Temperature regulation suppression
- Increased bodily temperature - As MDA is a serotonin releasing agent, a rise in core body and brain temperature tends to be high and consistent throughout the experience. Caution must be taken as too high of a dose can result in the dysregulation of the brain's ability to regulate its internal core temperature, which can result in serotonin syndrome, a condition which can be fatal if left untreated.
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased heart rate
- Increased perspiration
- Dehydration - Feelings of dry mouth and dehydration are a universal experience with this class of compounds; this effect is a product of an increased heart rate and metabolism. While it is important to avoid becoming dehydrated (especially when out dancing in a hot environment), there have been some notable cases of users suffering from water intoxication through over-drinking (to compensate). It is therefore advised that users simply sip on their water and avoid over-drinking.
- Difficulty urinating - Higher doses of MDA result in an overall difficulty when it comes to urination. This is an effect that is completely temporary and harmless. It is due to MDA’s promotion of the release of anti-diuretic hormone (ADH); ADH is responsible for regulating urination. This effect can be lessened by simply relaxing, but can be significantly relieved by placing a hot flannel over the genitals to warm them up and encourage blood flow to the region.
- Appetite suppression
- Pupil dilation
- Excessive yawning
- Stamina enhancement
- Teeth grinding - This is usually only present at moderate to higher doses and is similar to what one might experience from MDMA.
- Temporary erectile dysfunction
- Seizure - This is a rare effect but can happen in people predisposed to them, especially when taking heavier-than-recommended doses or while in physically taxing conditions, such as being dehydrated, fatigued or undernourished.
The visual effects of MDA have an occurrence rating that is more selective and less consistent than any of the traditional psychedelics. The effects can never be guaranteed to manifest themselves, but are the most likely to occur with chemically pure, high dose MDA experiences, towards the end of the experience and particularly if the user has been smoking cannabis. They are also more likely to occur if the user has prior experience with psychedelics, but also remain entirely possible for those who have never tried them as well.
Unlike MDMA, MDA can directly induce mild to moderate psychedelic visual effects due to its ability to partially agonize the 5HT2A receptor, which means it has the ability to induce moderate psychedelic visual effects.
MDA presents an array of visual enhancements which are mild in comparison to traditional psychedelics, but still distinctively present. These generally include:
The visual geometry that is present throughout this experience can be described as more similar in appearance to that of psilocin than LSD. It can be comprehensively described through its variations as primarily intricate in complexity, abstract in form, organic in style, structured in organization, dimly lit in lighting, mostly monotone in colour with blues and greys, glossy in shading, sharp in edges, small in size, fast in speed, smooth in motion, equal in round and angular corners, non-immersive in-depth and consistent in intensity. At higher doses, they are significantly more likely to result in states of level 8A visual geometry over level 8B.
At high to heavy doses, MDA is capable of producing a unique range of low and high-level hallucinatory states in a fashion that is significantly less consistent and reproducible than that of many other commonly used psychedelics. These effects are far more common during the offset of the experience and commonly include:
- Peripheral information misinterpretation
- External hallucination (autonomous entities; settings, sceneries, and landscapes; perspective hallucinations and scenarios and plots) - This effect is very similar to the same experience found within deliriants, but does not manifest itself consistently and usually happens only at high doses. It can be comprehensively described through its variations as delirious in believability, autonomous in controllability and solid in style. They usually follow themes of memory replays and semi-realistic or expected events. For example, people could be casually holding objects or performing actions which one would expect them to be in real life before disappearing and dissolving under further inspection. Common examples of this include seeing people wearing glasses or hats when they are not and mistaking faces of friends for random people, and objects as human beings or animals.
- Internal hallucination - The internal hallucinations which MDA induce are mostly only present as spontaneous breakthroughs at extremely high doses. This effect's variations are delirious in believability, interactive in style, new experiences in content, autonomous in controllability and solid in appearance. The most common way in which they manifest themselves is through hypnagogic scenarios which the user may experience as they are drifting off to sleep after a night of use; these can usually be described as memory replay from the previous several hours. These are short and fleeting, but frequent and completely believable and convincing as they happen. In terms of the theme, they often take the form of conversations with the people who were with you or instead manifest themselves as bizarre and extremely nonsensical plots.
The cognitive effects of MDA can be broken down into several components which progressively intensify proportional to dosage. The headspace of MDA is described by many as one of moderate to extreme mental stimulation, feelings of love, openness or empathy, and powerful euphoria. It displays a large number of typical psychedelic, entactogenic and stimulant cognitive effects.
The most prominent of these cognitive effects generally include:
- Anxiety suppression
- Cognitive euphoria - Strong cognitive euphoria and feelings of happiness can be produced by MDA and are likely a direct result of serotonin and dopamine release.
- Empathy, affection, and sociability enhancement - This particular effect is more consistent, pronounced, powerful and therapeutic with MDA than any other known substance. It is the most obvious and noticeable effect within any MDA experience and dominates the head space. With time, repeated use, and improper spacing, however, this effect becomes severely diminished as the perspective it instills becomes fully imprinted, making it, so users feel merely speedy and scattered with no new found urges to communicate or bond with others.
- Emotion enhancement
- Time distortion - Strong feelings of time compression or dilation are common within MDA and alter the experience of time quite noticeably.
- Increased music appreciation
- Increased sense of humor
- Compulsive redosing - Due to its potential euphoria-inducing effects, there is the potential for MDA to encourage compulsive redosing, much like with MDMA. Due to the length of the experience, many find this less of an issue.
- Novelty enhancement
- Creativity enhancement
- Focus enhancement - This component is most effective at low to moderate doses as anything higher will usually impair concentration.
- Immersion enhancement
- Motivation enhancement
- Increased libido
- Thought acceleration
- Wakefulness - This component is present, but to a noticeably lesser degree than MDMA. Users often report being heavily sedated or "floored" compared to typical stimulants.
- Existential self-realization - Although this effect is present, it is not quite as pronounced or as consistent when compared to other hallucinogens such as mescaline, LSD or MXE. Due to the relative calmness and lack of chaotic energy that MDA possesses relative to MDMA, however, this combined with its extended duration may make it a better therapeutic agent and can be thought of as being more similar to mescaline than MDMA.
- Unity and interconnectedness - Experiences of unity, oneness, and interconnectedness between level 2 - 3 are common within MDA. This component most consistently manifests itself at high doses within large crowds at raves and musical events in the form of "becoming one with the crowd."
The effects which occur during the offset of a stimulant experience generally feel negative and uncomfortable in comparison to the effects which occurred during its peak. This is often referred to as a "comedown" and occurs because of neurotransmitter depletion. The comedown of MDA is generally considered harsher compared to that of MDMA. Its effects commonly include:
- Appetite suppression
- Brain zaps - This effect is known to happen slightly more consistently than with MDMA, but does generally not occur if the user is practicing proper spacing and safe dosing practices.
- Cognitive fatigue
- Derealization - This effect can occur temporarily after a strong MDA experience and persist in cases of misuse.
- Dream suppression or Dream potentiation - Although this substance have been known to suppress dreaming, some users note extremely strange and sometimes scary dreams for several nights after taking large doses of MDA.
- Sleep paralysis - Some users report a higher incidence of experiencing sleep paralysis after consuming MDA.
- Motivation suppression
- Thought deceleration
- Thought disorganization
- Suicidal ideation - This effect is known to happen slightly more consistently than with MDMA, but does generally not occur if the user is practicing proper spacing and safe dosing practices.
Anecdotal reports which describe the effects of this compound within our experience index include:
- Experience:250mg MDA / 250mg MDMA - unnecessarily large dosage
- Experience:~150mg MDA(oral) - a case of mistaken identity
Additional experience reports can be found here:
Toxicity and harm potential
Anecdotal evidence from people within the psychonaut community who have tried MDA suggests that there are no negative health effects attributed to simply trying the drug by itself at low to moderate doses and using it very sparingly (but nothing can be completely guaranteed). Independent research should always be done to ensure that a combination of two or more substances is safe before consumption.
Harold Blauer died in January 1953 after being intravenously injected with 450 mg of MDA.
It is strongly recommended that one use harm reduction practices when using this substance.
Tolerance and addiction potential
As with other stimulants, the chronic use of MDA can be considered moderately addictive with a high potential for abuse and is capable of causing psychological dependence among certain users. When addiction has developed, cravings and withdrawal effects may occur if a person suddenly stops their usage.
Tolerance to the psychedelic effects of MDA is built almost immediately after ingestion. However, tolerance to the stimulant and entactogenic effects are built up after repeated and heavy usage in a manner that varies between individuals. After that, it takes about 3 days for the tolerance to be reduced to half and 7 days to be back at baseline (in the absence of further consumption). MDA presents cross-tolerance with all psychedelics and most stimulants, meaning that after the consumption of MDA all psychedelics and some stimulants will have a reduced effect.
- 25x-NBOMe & 25x-NBOH - Members of the 25x family are highly stimulating and physically straining. Combinations with stimulants should be avoided due to the risk of excessive stimulation. This can result in panic attacks, thought loops, seizures, increased blood pressure, vasoconstriction, and heart failure in extreme cases.
- Alcohol - Alcohol can be dangerous to combine with stimulants due to the risk of accidental over-intoxication. Stimulants mask the sedative effects of alcohol, which is the main factor people use to assess their degree of intoxication. Once the stimulant wears off, the depressant effects of alcohol are left unopposed, which can result in blackouts and respiratory depression. If combined, one should strictly limit themselves to only drinking a certain amount of alcohol per hour.
- DXM - Combinations with DXM should be handled with extreme care due to DXM's effects on serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake. This can lead to panic attacks, hypertensive crisis, or serotonin syndrome with stimulants that increase levels of serotonin (MDMA, methylone, mephedrone, etc.). Monitor blood pressure carefully and avoid strenuous physical activity.
- MDMA - The neurotoxic effects of MDMA may be increased when combined with other stimulants. There is also a risk of excessive heart strain.
- MXE - Combinations with MXE may dangerously elevate blood pressure and increase the risk of psychosis.
- Stimulants - MDA can be potentially dangerous in combination with other stimulants like cocaine as they can increase one's heart rate and blood pressure to dangerous levels.
- Tramadol - Tramadol lowers the seizure threshold. Combinations with stimulants may further increase this risk.
- Cocaine - This combination may increase strain on the heart.
Serotonin syndrome risk
- MAOIs - Such as banisteriopsis caapi, syrian rue, phenelzine, selegiline, and moclobemide.
- Serotonin releasers - Such as MDMA, 4-FA, methamphetamine, methylone and αMT.
- SSRIs - Such as citalopram and sertraline
- SNRIs - Such as tramadol and venlafaxine
Internationally, MDA is part of the the Convention on Psychotropic Substances of 1971 as a Schedule I substance.
- Australia: MDA is a controlled substance.
- Austria: MDA is illegal to possess, produce and sell under the SMG (Suchtmittelgesetz Österreich).
- Canada: MDA is listed on the CSDA in Schedule I.
- Germany: MDA is controlled under Anlage I BtMG (Narcotics Act, Schedule I) as of September 1, 1984. It is illegal to manufacture, possess, import, export, buy, sell, procure or dispense it without a license.
- Russia: MDA is classed as a Schedule I prohibited substance.
- Switzerland: MDA is a controlled substance specifically named under Verzeichnis D.
- The Netherlands: MDMA is illegal to possess, produce and sell in the Netherlands
- United Kingdom: MDA is a class A drug.
- United States: MDA is a Schedule I drug.
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