What is PMA?
PMA is similar to MDMA (the chemical in ecstasy). It can make you feel alert, alive and full of energy. Its similarity means that PMA is actually sometimes sold as ecstasy. However, PMA is more poisonous and can kill at lower doses than MDMA. Also like MDMA, it can cause a fatal rise in body temperature.
The effects of PMA also take longer than MDMA to begin to be felt – so some users have overdosed by mistakenly taking pill after pill thinking nothing is happening, which can also be fatal.
In recent years there have been a number of deaths and hospitalisations that have been linked to PMA and/or PMMA. It appears that those affected thought they were taking ecstasy pills containing MDMA and did not know that the pills contained PMA and/or PMMA. As with any drug you can never be sure what it is your buying and how it might affect you.
As PMA is often sold as ecstasy pills rather than sold by its own name, a lot of the street names associated with PMA are actually street names for ecstasy pills. Sometimes PMA and/or PMMA containing pills even look like regular ecstasy pills.
PMA is sold as a pill but the pills can be lots of different colours and can have different marks on them. It is relatively easy to grind down pills to re-colour and re-brand them with a new logo or design, so a pink heart-shaped pill can be made into a green round pill or a yellow square pill.
As with any pill you can never be sure what it contains or how this might affect you.
PMA has been found in ecstasy pills and these come in a variety of colours and shapes.
Like ecstasy, PMA is swallowed.
What are the effects of PMA?
PMA is similar to MDMA (the active substance in ecstasy) but can kill at lower doses as it is more poisonous.
PMA effects include:
- Giving people an energy buzz that makes them feel alert and alive.
- Feeling in tune with surroundings.
- Sounds and colours are more intense.
- Feelings of great love for friends and strangers.
What are the risks of PMA?
The effects of PMA can a take a while to kick-in so there’s a risk of the user double-dosing to compensate, risking a fatal overdose. Other risks include:
- As little as a quarter of a tablet (60mg) is enough to significantly increase blood pressure, body temperature and pulse rates.
- Anyone with a heart condition, blood pressure problems, epilepsy or asthma can have a very dangerous reaction to the drug.
- Anyone using too much can get paranoid and depressed.
- PMA can cause muscle spasms and lots of people feel very sick after taking it.
- PMA affects the body's temperature control and the risk of overheating may be greater than ecstasy, as it is more poisonous. People can get so out of control that they don't realise they're in danger of overheating and dehydration. Users should take regular breaks to cool down and should keep hydrated. If you feel your temperature soaring on the dance floor seek help immediately.
- Be a little careful not to overdo it when drinking fluid to avoid dehydration and overheating – as drinking too much water can also be dangerous or even fatal. Just remember to sip no more than a pint of non-alcoholic fluid every hour. This is important because drugs like PMA and MDMA (ecstasy) can cause the body to release a hormone which suppresses the production of urine. So, if a user drinks a few pints of liquid too quickly, water builds up in the body and interferes with the body’s salt balance. This excess of water in the body can directly harm brain function; and this can be as deadly as not drinking enough water.
- The long term risks associated with PMA have yet to be studied but many are likely to be similar to ecstasy.
PMA and alcohol
Mixing PMA with alcohol can have serious consequences – the effects of PMA are increased, making it more likely to experience its negative effects.
Can you get addicted to PMA?
As with ecstasy, it’s possible to build up a tolerance (which means people need to take more PMA tabs to get the same level of buzz).
Psychological dependence may also develop (with an increased desire to keep taking the drug despite the risks).
There have been no clear physical withdrawals reported with PMA but, as with ecstasy, users may feel lethargic or low for some days after having used.
PMA and the law
- PMA is a Class A drug which means that it's illegal to have for yourself, give away or sell.
- Possession can get you up to seven years in prison and/or an unlimited fine.
- Supplying someone else, even your friends, can get you a life sentence and/or an unlimited fine.
Did you know?
- A conviction for a drug-related offence could have a serious impact. It can stop you visiting certain countries – for example the United States – and limit the types of jobs you can apply for.
- Like drinking and driving, driving while impaired by PMA is illegal – you can get a heavy fine, be disqualified from driving or even go to prison.
- Allowing other people to supply drugs in your house or any other premises is illegal. If the police catch people supplying illegal drugs in a club they can potentially prosecute the landlord, club owner or any person concerned in the management of the premises.