4-ETA: An Amphetamine You Definitely Want to Avoid

Some things are better left alone ⚠️

By Enrique Santos Last Updated: February 22, 2023
Last Updated: February 22, 2023
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Para-ethoxyamphetamine, more commonly known as 4-ETA, is an amphetamine drug and close structural relative of para-methoxyamphetamine (PMA), which is well-known for its toxic effects.

Both of these compounds have limited value as recreational drugs: 4-ETA does not produce the desirable, empathogenic effects usually associated with serotonergic compounds like MDMA — PMA only has minor empathogenic effects.

It’s important to understand that 4-ETA is not a compound people tend to take on purpose. It can produce all of the adverse effects associated with amphetamines with none of the benefits. 4-ETA is usually sold fraudulently under the guise of another compound.

The effects of 4-ETA have been likened to a lighter version of PMA. PMA, on its part, is usually considered excessively stimulating — producing nasty side effects like hyperthermia, dehydration, tachycardia, and anxiety.

4-ETA Specs

Chemical NamePara-ethoxyamphetamine
Level of RiskModerate to High
Other Names4-ETA
Most Common Side EffectsTachycardia, Dehydration, Hyperthermia, Anxiety, overstimulation,
Duration of Effects10 to 14 hours
Estimated Threshold Dose10 mg
Common Dose20 to 50 mg
Legality/StatusResearch Chemical
PubChem ID:162223124
CAS#129476-58-0

Trip Sitter Safe 4-ETA Guidelines

  1. 🐍 I understand why psychedelics should be treated with respect
  2. ⚖️ I’m familiar with the laws for 4-ETA in my country & state
  3. 🍄 I’m familiar and confident in the dose I’m taking
  4. 🧪 I’ve tested a sample of the substance I’m using with a drug-testing kit
  5. 💊 I’m not mixing any medications or other substances with 4-ETA
  6. 🏔 I’m in a safe & comfortable environment with people I trust
  7. 🐺 One of the members of my group is responsible and sober (AKA a trip sitter)
  8. ⏳ I have nothing important scheduled for after the trip
  9. 🧠 I’m in a sound & healthy state of mind
  10. ❤️ I don’t have any underlying health issues — don’t take 4-ETA if you have underlying heart, neurological, or psychiatric disorders
  11. 👭 Use the buddy system — 4-ETA can remove your inhibition and allow you to make unsafe decisions, always stay with people you trust, and never go out alone
  12. 🌵 I understand the risk of dehydration — it’s easy to become dehydrated on 4-ETA, so make sure you’re drinking a cup of water every hour while using it

How Does 4-ETA Work?

Studies to determine the pharmacology of 4-ETA are limited — mainly because this drug lacks any practical benefit in the first place. Still, we can start with what is generally true about amphetamines and work from there.

Amphetamines like 4-ETA alter the body’s neurotransmitters, primarily dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin.

Amphetamines leverage three primary pathways to interact with neurotransmitters:

  1. Block the reuptake of neurotransmitters
  2. Block the clearance of neurotransmitters
  3. Reverse the polarity of neurotransmitter transporters

The differences between these pathways can be significant in terms of their effects on an amphetamine’s pharmacology; ultimately, they all produce the same result: an increased concentration of neurotransmitters in the synapses.

Increased neurotransmitter presence translates into increased neurotransmission. This means that bodily effects produced by molecules like dopamine and serotonin become stronger.

Most amphetamines are reuptake inhibitors, so it’s likely that 4-ETA uses this pathway as well.

4-ETA also has stimulant action, so it must have at least some affinity for either dopamine or norepinephrine receptors, which are strongly associated with stimulant-like effects.

However, bizarrely enough, 4-ETA does not seem to produce psychomotor stimulation [1]. Its stimulant aspects are more related to side effects like tachycardia and hyperthermia. These stimulant effects are comparable to those of PMA but not as strong.

Furthermore, research shows that 4-ETA has prominent monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) activity [2].

The puzzling aspects of 4-ETA have more to do with serotonin, the neurotransmitter associated with empathogenic effects.

PMA, a compound whose pharmacology is very similar to 4-ETA, strongly correlates with serotonin release. However, it does not produce empathogenic effects. This could be due to a lack of activity at 5HT2B, the specific serotonin receptor family associated with empathogenic effects. It’s likely that 4-ETA also lacks empathogenic effects for the same reason.

What Are the Effects of 4-ETA?

There are no human studies to help us discern the effects profile of 4-ETA. In this situation, we usually turn to subjective self-assessments found in online drug forums. However, 4-ETA is a relatively obscure compound and is not even considered a recreational drug by the larger designer drug community. Thus, there are no entries for 4-ETA on the main forums.

This leaves us with few options. The next best choice is to analyze the effects of PMA, its closest pharmacological relative, and then point out their differences.

Here are the physical effects associated with PMA (and likely 4-ETA as well):

  • Abnormal heartbeat
  • Appetite suppression
  • Dehydration
  • Dizziness
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased body temperature
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased perspiration
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Pupil dilation
  • Rapid breathing
  • Seizures
  • Stimulation
  • Teeth grinding
  • Temporary erectile dysfunction
  • Vasoconstriction
  • Vibrating vision

The cognitive effects associated with PMA (and likely 4-ETA) include the following:

  • Anxiety
  • Cognitive euphoria or dysphoria
  • Dream suppression
  • Time distortion
  • Wakefulness
  • Drifting
  • Tracers (light hallucinations)

As can be seen, little of PMA’s profile resembles a party drug like MDMA. Aside from some cognitive euphoria and light hallucinations, their profiles are quite distinct. The only similarity would be in terms of the stimulant-like side effects.

In the case of 4-ETA, from the limited trip reports available, it appears to be a milder form of PMA, with even less empathogenic qualities but comparable side effects.

Is 4-ETA Addictive?

Yes. All amphetamines can cause habit-forming behaviors.

That being said, the overall unpleasantness associated with 4-ETA likely means it’s less likely to cause addiction than popular compounds like cocaine or MDMA. Remember — most people don’t take 4-ETA on purpose.

The addiction pathways used by amphetamines differ when compared to other drugs like benzodiazepines or opioids. The latter compounds are more capable of producing dependence, as their chemical nature can induce physical dependence and intense withdrawal symptoms. Some benzodiazepines are so potent in this regard that doctors only prescribe them for extremely short-term treatments (10 to 14 days).

In comparison, amphetamine addiction seems to rely more on behavioral and psychological mechanisms, like the basic chemical responses we get from doing something that gives us pleasure and how this can influence human psychology.

Is 4-ETA Safe? Risks & Side Effects

All amphetamines come with risks — but 4-ETA carries a higher risk than most.

These risks mostly relate to the many cardiovascular dangers and the slow onset. People often take a drug believing its MDMA, but in reality, it contains something like 4-ETA. Many people take a second dose when the effects don’t kick in within the first 45 minutes or so. Shortly after, the first dose of 4-ETA kicks in, and later the second — resulting in an overdose.

The only positive of 4-ETA’s risk profile is its relative lack of serotonergic toxicity compared to drugs like MDMA.

Harm Reduction: 4-ETA

The relative lack of knowledge surrounding 4-ETA, its similarities with the very dangerous PMA, and its unpleasant profile should be reason enough to stay away from 4-ETA.

However, we’ll never miss the chance to remind users of a few simple and effective harm-reduction techniques:

1. Don’t Mix Drugs

Drug interactions are always a bad idea. Consuming substances compulsively, or adding other potent compounds, always increases the risks and brings a certain unpredictability that is inherently dangerous.

2. Test Your Drugs

Illegal recreational compounds bought online, or worse, on the street, always carry the risk of adulteration. Hedge against this risk by testing your drugs with a reagent test kit — they’re affordable and easy to use.

3. Know Your Dose

Most unpleasant drug experiences and severe health events result from acute intoxication (overdose). Luckily, users can follow a very simple heuristic in order to avoid consuming too much. Don’t consume all of the intended dose at once. It’s far safer to have half, wait until the effects kick in, and then decide if you can handle the other half.

4-ETA Drug Interactions

Watch out for these drug interactions when consuming amphetamines:

1. Alcohol

Combining alcohol and stimulants like 4-ETA may increase the risk of adverse effects from both drugs.

Alcohol is a depressant that causes disinhibition and altered decision-making. Combining this effect with a stimulant that increases feelings of rage, anxiety, paranoia, and delusions is a bad idea.

As the effects of alcohol wear off, any active 4-ETA can cause a reversal in depressant action — resulting in significantly increased heart rate, blood pressure, and anxiety.

2. Cocaine & Other Stimulants

Consuming more than one type of stimulant will lead to an agonistic interaction — when two different substances are working towards the same effects inside the body.

Agonistic interactions increase the risk of side effects and overdose.

Never mix 4-ETA with other stimulant drugs, including other amphetamines and synthetic cathinone, cocaine, or caffeine.

3. PCP & Arylcyclohexylamines

These dissociative drugs can increase the risk of tachycardia, hypertension, and manic states. Arylcyclohexylamines like PCP (phencyclidine) also produce similar side effects and cardiovascular risk, which could compound when combined with amphetamines like 4-ETA.

When to Avoid Using 4-ETA

Do not use 4-ETA for any reason if you have any of the following conditions:

  1. Advanced arteriosclerosis
  2. Cardiovascular disease
  3. Moderate to severe hypertension
  4. Hyperthyroidism
  5. Known hypersensitivity or idiosyncrasy to sympathomimetic amines
  6. Glaucoma
  7. History of drug abuse
  8. Use of monoamine oxidase inhibitors
  9. Prescription for other central nervous system stimulants
  10. Pregnancy or lactation

References

  1. Martin-Iverson, M. T., Yamada, N., By, A. W., & Lodge, B. A. (1991). ” Designer” amphetamines: effects on behavior and monoamines with or without reserpine and/or alpha-methyl-para-tyrosine pretreatment. Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, 16(5), 253.
  2. Martin-Iverson, M. T., & Lodge, B. A. (1991). Effects of chronic treatment of rats with” designer” amphetamines on brain regional monoamines. Canadian journal of physiology and pharmacology, 69(12), 1825-1832.
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