MXE, Mexxy, or Methoxetamine

The Drug Known as Mexxy is Not Yet Well Understood

Image of the methoxetamine (MXE) molecule

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The name MXE stands for methoxetamine, or to give it the full name, 2-(3-methoxyphenyl)-2-(ethylamino) cyclohexanone. It has many street names, including m-ket, sometimes written as m ket, k max, sometimes written as k-max, k-maxx, or kmaxx, mexxy, sometimes written as mexy, mexxi, and also known by other similar names, such as mexxiem, mkat, mxxe, methoxatamine, methoxetimine, and methoxetamin.

MXE is a drug from the arylcyclohexylamines family of compounds. Arylcyclohexylamines also include ketamine and PCP, which are two drugs that have been around for decades, and which have been used for anesthesia in humans and animals.

In contrast, MXE is a much more recently developed substance, which has been specifically used as a recreational drug. MXE differs from ketamine on a molecular level. Initial reports indicate that, despite its semi-legal status, MXE has longer-lasting and more intense effects than ketamine. There have not been any formal studies to demonstrate exactly how MXE works, but it is assumed to work in the same way that ketamine does, that is, it affects the brain's neurotransmitters by acting on their receptors. One of the neurotransmitters thought to be affected is dopamine, which is associated with feelings of euphoria, and which has a role in many addictions, including those involving drugs.

How It Is Taken

MXE is typically produced in the form of a white powder.

There are several ways that users take MXE. Some people take it orally, or sublingually (under the tongue). Some take it by nasal insufflation or snort it into the nose. It can also be inserted into the rectum, where it's absorbed into the bloodstream, or it can be injected into a muscle.

Doses typically range from between 5mg and 90mg. The effects begin within ten minutes of taking the drug and usually last for one to three hours. Some users, however, take more of the drug as a top-up, which is a dangerous practice as the drug can build up in your system.

Like other psychoactive drugs, the MXE high is described as pleasurable and includes stimulant, relaxant, and dissociative effects. But MXE has unpredictable and intense side effects—particularly with higher doses—that are extremely unpleasant both physically and psychologically. This is sometimes called an m-hole. Hospital reports show that, while people can recover from MXE toxicity, this recovery period can require several days of hospitalization, with treatment including detox medication, intravenous fluids, and respiratory support. In addition, news stories have blamed several deaths on consumption of the drug, MXE.

Given the unpredictability of the drug, and the fact that it has only emerged as a recreational drug in the years following 2010, very little is known about how to manage the medical consequences of the drug, making it a risky substance to take.

If you or anyone else has taken MXE and seem to be losing consciousness, call 911 immediately. Inform the paramedic that MXE was taken, as well as any other drugs or alcohol that were also consumed. The effects of MXE can be life-threatening.

Is Methoxetamine Legal?

MXE has been available on the internet since 2010, through online chemical manufacturers and head shops, who sell it as a "research chemical" and as a "legal high." By being marketed as a research chemical, which is a way that designer drugs can be sold semi-legally, it can potentially get through a legal loophole. However, lawmakers are getting increasingly savvy about drugs that are substantially similar to illegal drugs, so don't count on getting away with possession or dealing MXE. A number of deaths have been reported, which have been associated with people taking MXE, so any legal case would also take the dangerousness of the substance into account.

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Article Sources

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  • Ornella, C. et al. "Phenomenon of New Drugs on the Internet: The Case of Ketamine Derivative Methoxetamine." Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental,27:145-149. 2012.

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