Health Information and Tools > Health A-Z >  Alcohol and Drug Problems: Common Questions about PMA and PMMA

Main Content

Alcohol and Drug Problems

Common Questions about PMA and PMMA

​What are PMA and PMMA?

PMA and PMMA are in the same class of drugs as MDMA, also called ecstasy. PMA is also k​nown by the street name “death” or “Dr. Death”. As with ecstasy, drugs tend to come in colourful, branded tablets that are taken by mouth.

Although they are different drugs than ecstasy, PMA and PMMA are often sold as ecstasy or an ecstasy substitute. Buyers may think they are getting ecstasy, when in fact they are getting PMA, PMMA, or a combination of different drugs. In other cases, users may be encouraged to take PMA and PMMA with ecstasy to increase the effects.

Why do people take PMA or PMMA?

These drugs are often taken because of the way they make many users feel. Users report feeling “at peace” and as though “all is right with the world”. Users often also believe that these drugs may increase sexuality and enhance pleasure.

How are PMA and PMMA different from ecstasy?

PMA and PMMA are more toxic than ecstasy. They are more likely to cause side effects like seizures and a high body temperature (the person feels very hot to touch). Also, the early effects of PMA and PMMA are often delayed and milder than ecstasy making users think that they’ve taken a weak ecstasy pill. Users will then often take more of the drug to get the effects they are taking the drug for.

The other effects that can happen are the same as ecstasy. It can cause:
  • you to feel anxious or that someone is out to get you (paranoia)
  • hallucinations (hearing voices or seeing things)
  • a dry mouth
  • teeth grinding
  • you to feel weak
  • sweating
  • nausea (feeling sick to your stomach)
  • chest pain
  • your heart to feel like it is fluttering (palpitations)
  • headache
  • you to have trouble speaking

As with ecstasy PMA/PMMA can also have serious, life-threatening side effects when used on its own, and/or if combined with other medicine (including anti-depressants).

So, using PMA or PMMA can kill me?

Yes. Whether used on its own, or with other medicine, serious and life-threatening health effects are a very real danger when taking PMA or PMMA.

Life-threatening effects include:
  • your heart beating very fast (causing a heart attack)
  • your blood pressure going very high (causing a stroke)
  • your body organs shutting down
  • your body temperature going high enough to cause death

How can users be sure that their MDMA is pure?

There is no way to know. MDMA and other illegal drugs often have other chemicals in them that can cause their own side effects that could kill them. There is no “safe” street drug.

If I only take a small amount, can I avoid the bad effects?

No. There have been many cases where people have died or had serious, life-threatening side effects after taking just 1 pill.

But if I know I am getting pure ecstasy, I don’t have to worry, right?

You still have to worry! PMA and PMMA, ecstasy, as well as other illegal drugs often have other chemicals in them that can cause their own side effects that could kill you. There is no “safe” street drug and there is no safe dose of a street drug.

How would I know if I have taken PMA or PMMA rather than ecstasy and what should I do?

You won’t know. The only way to know which drug you took is by testing your urine or blood or by a laboratory testing the pills.

A bad reaction to PMA and PMMA can be very similar to ecstasy.

Call 911 if anyone who has used PMA or PMMA:
  • can’t tell you where they are or what day it is
  • can’t follow a simple command like “squeeze my hand”
  • feels very hot to the touch
  • has chest pain
  • has a seizure
  • become unconscious
  • stops breathing

The Poison and Drug Information Service (PADIS) is a free, confidential, 24/7 service for all Albertans. Staff are specially trained in the assessment and management of exposures to drugs and toxins like PMA/PMMA and are available by calling 1-800-332-1414​

If you are concerned about your own drug or alcohol use, the drug and/or alcohol use of a friend or loved one, or would like more information on drug and alcohol use, contact the 24/7 Addiction Helpline.​​​​

Current as of: October 3, 2017

Author: Poison and Drug Information Service (PADIS)