5,6-Methylenedioxy-2-aminoindane: from laboratory curiosity to 'legal high'

Hum Psychopharmacol. 2012 Mar;27(2):106-12. doi: 10.1002/hup.1255.


Objectives: The fully synthetic 'legal high' 5,6-methylenedioxy-2-aminoindane (MDAI) is an analogue of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine. Although developed in the 1990s, it was not widely abused until 2010. However, mephedrone was banned in the UK in April 2010, and almost immediately, MDAI was widely advertised as a legal alternative. This paper provides both an overview of the current state of knowledge of MDAI and a critical analysis of online available information relating to its psychoactive effects, adverse reactions and use in combination with other drugs.

Methods: The literature on MDAI was searched in three databases: PsycInfo, PubMed and MedScape. Once the availability of information on MDAI was identified within these websites, further specific searches were carried out for narratives focusing on the nature of its effects on users, motivations behind its recreational use and possible trends of misuse, and any other relevant information.

Results: Internet-sourced products have been shown variously to contain mephedrone, and mixed compositions of inorganic substances, while containing no MDAI. Numbers of Internet searches have been considerably higher in the UK compared with Germany and the US.

Conclusions: Better international collaboration levels may be needed to tackle the novel and fast growing phenomenon of novel psychoactive drug availability from the web.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Designer Drugs / adverse effects
  • Designer Drugs / pharmacology
  • Drug and Narcotic Control
  • Hallucinogens / adverse effects
  • Hallucinogens / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Indans / administration & dosage
  • Indans / adverse effects
  • Indans / pharmacology*
  • Internet*
  • Methamphetamine / adverse effects
  • Methamphetamine / analogs & derivatives
  • Methamphetamine / pharmacology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • United Kingdom


  • Designer Drugs
  • Hallucinogens
  • Indans
  • 5,6-methylenedioxy-2-aminoindane
  • Methamphetamine
  • mephedrone