OPEN Foundation

From PCP to MXE: a comprehensive review of the non-medical use of dissociative drugs

Share This Post

Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on twitter
Share on email


PCP or phencyclidine was discovered in 1956 and soon became a popular street drug. Dissociatives including PCP, ketamine, and dextromethorphan have been used non-medically for their mind-altering effects for over 60 years. Many of these compounds have also been used clinically and in legitimate research. At least 14 derivatives of PCP were sold for non-medical and illict use from the late 1960s until the 1990s. With the advent of the Internet, the drug market underwent a dramatic evolution. While initially gray-market chemical vendors offering dextromethorphan and ketamine thrived, most recently the market has shifted to legal high and online-based research chemical vendors. Starting with the first dissociative research chemical, 4-MeO-PCP in 2008, the dissociative research chemical market has rapidly evolved and currently comprises at least 12 dissociatives, almost half of which were unknown in the scientific literature prior to their introduction. Several of these, including methoxetamine, have reached widespread use internationally. A historical account of non-medical use of over 30 dissociative compounds was compiled from a diverse collection of sources. The first complete portrait of this underground market is presented along with the relevant legal, technological, and scientific developments which have driven its evolution.

Morris, H., & Wallach, J. (2014). From PCP to MXE: a comprehensive review of the non‐medical use of dissociative drugs. Drug testing and analysis, 6(7-8), 614-632.
Link to full text

OPEN Foundation

Join ICPR 2022 Online!

ICPR features world-leading experts from many academic disciplines, including psychiatry, psychology, neuroscience, anthropology, ethnobotany, and philosophy who come together to give a scientific conference for academics, therapists, researchers, clinicians, policymakers, and members of the public. Get your ICPR 2022 livestream ticket today and use the code OPENLIVE30 at checkout for a €30 discount.

Learn More


Subscribe to our new OPEN-Minded newsletter to stay in the loop, hear about our events, and become a part of a community dedicated to advancing psychedelics.

By clicking subscribe, I confirm to receive emails from the OPEN Foundation and agree with its privacy policy.

27 June - Spiritual & Existential Dimensions in Psychedelic Care: Challenges & Insights