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Drug Alcohol Depend. 2003 Oct 24;72(1):33-44.

Reinforcing, subjective, and physiological effects of MDMA in humans: a comparison with d-amphetamine and mCPP.

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Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences, Substance Abuse Research Division, Addiction Research Institute, Wayne State University, 2761 E Jefferson, Detroit, MI 48207, USA.


3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) is a widely used drug of abuse chemically related to both the amphetamines and mescaline. Laboratory animal studies have shown that MDMA is a potent re-uptake inhibitor and releaser of dopamine and serotonin. Although the subjective and physiological effects of MDMA have been compared to d-amphetamine in humans, no direct comparison with a serotonin releasing agent has been reported and reinforcing effects have not been evaluated. In this paper we report a direct comparison of the reinforcing, subjective, and physiological effects of MDMA (1 and 2 mg/kg) to d-amphetamine (10 and 20 mg), to metachlorophenylpiperazine (mCPP--a serotonin releasing agent (0.5 and 0.75 mg/kg)), and to placebo using a within-subject design in 12 volunteers with moderate MDMA experience. Both the high dose of d-amphetamine and MDMA showed significant reinforcing effects as indicated by high cross-over values on the multiple choice procedure compared to all other treatments. All three drugs showed dose-dependent changes in subjective effects whereas physiological effects were most pronounced for MDMA with almost no changes seen with mCPP. The subjective effects of MDMA were similar both to those of mCPP and d-amphetamine, suggesting that both dopamine and serotonin systems are involved in mediating these effects. In contrast, only the dopaminergic agents, d-amphetamine and MDMA, had reinforcing effects.

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