MXE, also known as methoxetamine, is a substance with similar chemical properties to ketamine and phencyclidine (PCP), two illicit drugs known for their hallucinogenic and dissociative properties 1. MXE is an odorless, white powder that may be taken orally, inhaled through the nose, or injected.
MXE users may experience pleasurable feelings of euphoria and enlightenment for up to 24 hours after using the drug 2. However, taking too much or having a bad reaction to MXE may lead to psychiatric, cognitive, neurological, and/or cardiovascular problems.
MXE can also cause a range of negative side effects, including sensory distortions, paranoia, and problems with speech and communication.
Despite legal restrictions placed on the recreational use of similar drugs, PCP and ketamine, there are currently no federal restrictions on the sale of MXE in the United States 1. The potential harms of the drug haven’t gone unnoticed, however, with some states having recently passed laws banning the sale of MXE. As is the case with other synthetic drugs like Spice and bath salts, manufacturers of MXE often label the drugs “not for human consumption” in order to skirt legal restrictions.
XE (0.5–5 mg·kg−1) affected motor activity in a dose‐ and time‐dependent manner, inducing hypermotility and hypomotility at low and high doses respectively. At low and intermediate doses (0.5 and 1 mg·kg−1), MXE induced anxious and/or obsessive–compulsive traits (marble burying test), did not significantly increase sociability (social interaction test) or induce spatial anxiety (elevated plus maze test). At a high dose (5 mg·kg−1), MXE induced transient analgesia (tail‐flick and hot‐plate test), decreased social interaction time (social interaction test) and reduced immobility time while increasing swimming activity (forced swim test), suggesting an antidepressant effect. Acute MXE administration did not affect self‐grooming behaviour at any dose tested. Immunohistochemical analysis showed that behaviourally active doses of MXE (1 and 5 mg·kg−1) increased phosphorylation of ribosomal protein S6 in the medial prefrontal cortex and hippocampus.