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3MMC: What Is It, and Key Harm Reduction Tips

The last decade brought a rise in popularity of the recreational use of synthetic cathinones, a category of New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) with amphetamine-like effects. One of them is 3MMC (3-methylmethcathinone), a synthetic cathinone that shares structural similarities to mephedrone. Due to its almost identical structural composition, 3MMC gained popularity once mephedrone became banned, as a more easily accessible substance easily obtained through head shops, online sources, and the dark web.

Similarly to other synthetic cathinones, 3MMC does not have any known therapeutic uses; it is officially used in entirely recreational contexts. The drug first appeared in the European market in 2012 and regained popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic, with more reports of 3MMC-related incidents and harms being disclosed since 2020

Its production is fairly straightforward and can be done in makeshift laboratories in many environments due to easily accessible precursor chemicals and reagents. According to Floris Brocaar, Coordinator for UNITY (in the Netherlands), the ease of NPS production has changed the drug production and consumption landscape in Europe: there is increasingly less dependency on controlled international precursors, with a rise instead in local clandestine laboratories.


What are the effects of 3MMC?

Consumption of 3MMC is usually done through orally or nasally (by snorting); however, it can also be injected, as is common in the chemsex scene. Although structurally similar to mephedrone, 3MMC has more stimulating and less empathogenic effects. It has become well known for resembling a combination effect of MDMA and cocaine, with those using it reporting:

  • Higher levels of alertness
  • Feelings of euphoria
  • Increased sociability
  • Heightened empathy
  • Greater sensitivity to touch and sound

Its effects are reportedly similar to other amphetamine-like substances in how they increase your dopamine and 5-HT levels.


Average effect duration for oral and nasal consumption of 3MMC. Source: Energy Control


3MMC has also become extremely popular in the queer community and chemsex parties due to the significant increase in libido with large doses. The effects of 3MMC are more short lived and less potent than mephedrone, making it a substance requiring frequent redosing, making those using it more susceptible to tolerance and dependency. 

The long term effects of frequent 3MMC consumption is largely under-studied. However, user reports highlight similar adverse effects to those observed from other cathinones: these include:

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Dehydration
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Increased body temperature
  • Nausea and stomach pain
  • Muscle tensions

It is a harsh substance when taken nasally, which can harm the nasal mucosa and cause frequent nose bleeds. With frequent use and higher doses, users can also experience extreme cravings, anxiety, paranoia, and depressive episodes. Speaking to TalkingDrugs, Brocaar highlighted that frequent and past users have reported changes in their mental health for a few weeks, particularly more depression-like symptoms, once they stopped using 3MMC.


The general effects of 3MMC can last from 4-7 hours, with its after effects lasting 3-4 hours after initial ingestion. The effects and recommended doses vary, with high variety in potency and purity of samples. For first time users, it is recommended to start with a low dose and allow for the effects to manifest before redosing. 

Typically, users that snort 3MMC report that an average amount is 25-75 mg per dose, and for oral use it averages to 75-150 mg per dose. While there is a great variety in samples, Energy Control, a Spanish harm reduction organisation, has indicated some rough guidelines on dosing 3MMC.


Dosage levels for oral and nasal consumption of 3MMC. Source: Energy Control


Combining 3MMC with other substances

Given the lack of research on 3MMC and its interactions, it must be approached with caution. The harm reduction saying of start low, go slow should always be followed. 

There are a few known interactions that require caution:

  1. 3MMC and alcohol: As with other stimulants and alcohol, taking 3MMC while drinking may reduce the effects of alcohol and entice users to drink more, which can lead to alcohol poisoning, increasing risks associated with both substances. 
  2. 3MMC and other stimulants: combining 3MMC with other stimulants such as cocaine will increase the risks associated with both. This can lead to a severe increase in heart rate and blood pressure, and further cardiovascular issues. 
  3. 3MMC and MDMA/ecstasy: 3MMC shares similar effects to MDMA/ecstasy with feelings of euphoria and empathy. Combining the two can lead to dangerously high serotonin levels, potentially leading to Serotonin Syndrome which often results from taking MDMA in combination with other substances that increase serotonin levels such as 3MMC. Symptoms of Serotonin Syndrome include: agitation, increased heart rate and blood pressure, dilated pupils, sweating, tremors, muscle rigidity and in extreme cases seizures that can result in comas or death when not properly recognised or treated. 
  4. 3MMC and antidepressants/SSRIs: Taking 3MMC with antidepressants should be avoided as it can lead to extremely high serotonin levels. 
  5. 3MMC and GHB: the stimulating effects of 3MMC can mask the anaesthetic effects of GHB, leading to high risks of overdose and death.


Key Harm Reduction Tips

    1. Test your drugs. In a few countries, you can get drugs tested anonymously to ensure there are no adulterants in your sample. 
    2. Start low, and go slow. With the same dosage, effects can vary from person to person. Strength can also be different between batches, so start with a small amount and wait for 30 minutes to feel the effects. 
    3. Take 3MMC orally rather than nasally or through injection. This will protect your nose and veins.
    4. Stay hydrated – 3MMC, as well as most other stimulants and psychoactive substances can dehydrate you. Make sure to hydrate properly while using it, specifically in dance/party events. 
    5. Avoid mixing 3MMC with other substances as much as you can.

A huge thanks to Floris Bocaar (UNITY) and Mireia Ventura (Energy Control) for their insights on this piece.

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