Meet Methoxetamine—A Dangerous New Drug with Unwarranted Reputation for Safety

Methoxitamine in original gray packaging.

Some drugs are derived from plants, like heroin and cocaine, and many others are born in chemical laboratories.

Long, complicated procedures result in a few chemicals that have therapeutic uses and hundreds of others that are only trafficked on the illicit market. In general, these synthetic substances never go through any kind of testing procedure until some underground chemist offers those drugs for sale on the illicit market.

A recent newcomer to this illicit market is methoxetamine, known to most users as MXE, now being tested on thousands of unsuspecting buyers.

What Is Methoxetamine?

This synthetic drug is part of a family of psychoactive substances that includes the animal anesthetic ketamine and the intensely psychoactive drug phencyclidine (PCP). In effect, it is most similar to ketamine in that it is a dissociative drug. This means that it is a drug that creates a disconnection between an individual and his (or her) thoughts, memory and even one’s own sense of identity.

What Does Methoxetamine Look Like?

Methoxitamine white powder.

Like many other synthetics, it is usually sold as an odorless white powder. A quick internet search shows that this drug can be purchased from overseas manufacturers who claim that it is a “research chemical” that can legally be sold to anyone. Twenty-five grams can be ordered for less than $200 paid with bitcoin or Western Union money order. The Drug Enforcement Administration disagrees with any claim to its legality.

It may also be added to other powdered drugs such as methamphetamine or cocaine or pressed into pills.

How Is Methoxetamine Used?

As a powder, it can be snorted or placed under the tongue. It can be dissolved and then injected into muscles or directly into a vein.

What Are the Street Names for Methoxetamine?

MXE, Mexxy, Hypnotic, Jipper, Minx, Special M, Ultraviolet.

How Much Does Methoxetamine Cost?

Purchased from an overseas manufacturer, it could cost $6 a gram or $2.80 a gram if purchased by the pound.

What Are the Short-Term Effects of Using Methoxetamine?

Like PCP or ketamine, MXE is abused for its hallucinogenic and dissociative effects. The effects vary greatly by the dosage.

A lower dosage will cause milder effects like euphoria but heavier doses take a person into what is now called an “M-hole”—a state of severely altered consciousness similar to the K-hole associated with ketamine use. Some ketamine users will inject this drug repeatedly until they reach this level of dissociation they consider desirable.

Methoxetamine has a stronger and longer effect at a lower dosage than ketamine and it is said to not be as hard as ketamine on the user’s bladder although recent reports refute this. Some ketamine users have had to have their bladders repaired or removed as a result of the damage done by this drug. An MXE user may think that this drug is therefore “safer” when it is anything but safe.

In high doses, it causes a very high heart rate and high blood pressure accompanied by catatonia requiring a person to be rushed to an emergency room. Treatment may be medication with a benzodiazepine such as Valium or Xanax until the effects wear off. Some people have needed hospitalization when they lost control of their body movements.

Woman high on drugs and in panic.

While users may be seeking a “state of bliss,” the effects they actually encounter include:

  • Terror
  • Hallucinations
  • Confusion
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of one’s identity and perception of one’s body
  • Loss of coordination up to the point of being unable to walk
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Aggression
  • Time distortion
  • Paranoia
  • Inability to focus
  • Inability to speak
  • Dissociative psychosis

The effects of MXE kick in within 10 to 20 minutes of consumption and last several hours, with after-effects lasting as long as two days. Some people complained that they felt “empty and drained” after its effects wore off.

The effects must not be all that pleasant because a survey of users cited by the World Health Organization found that “almost one-third of users reported that they did not intend to try the drug again.”

What Are the Long-Term Effects of Using Methoxetamine?

Of course, addiction is an effect of long-term use of this drug. Addictive effects may be mainly psychological. Other scientific documentation is sketchy because the drug is fairly new on the illicit market. As mentioned earlier, it appears that MXE has similar damaging effects on the bladder to those of ketamine.

What Are the Symptoms of Methoxetamine Overdose?

It is not notably a drug that causes overdoses although there has been one U.S. death and 22 deaths reported in Europe. Some of these European deaths were from MXE alone, some were accidental deaths where MXE use was considered a contributing factor and other deaths involved the use of multiple illicit substances.

What Are Withdrawal Symptoms Like?

Accurate information is scarce on this point. One report from the World Health Organization notes no apparent physical withdrawal symptoms but one formerly addicted person reported feeling “

detached and sad

” after quitting use. As this drug is sold to more people and more research is done, more accurate information on addictiveness and withdrawal symptoms will become available.

AUTHOR

Karen

For more than a decade, Karen has been researching and writing about drug trafficking, drug abuse, addiction and recovery. She has also studied and written about policy issues related to drug treatment.