MDA is an abbreviation for the chemical 3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine.
MDA was a popular drug during the 60's and 70's when it was known as "the love drug". Today that nickname has come to refer to MDMA instead.
Why do I care about MDA?
Because any time you purchase MDMA on the black market, there is a small chance that you will actually be getting MDA instead. Many of the effects of MDA bear a striking resemblance to MDMA, and standard ecstasy testing kits cannot differentiate between the two drugs. DanceSafe's complete testing kit now offers a reagent which can differentiate MDMA and MDE from MDA.)
What are the effects of MDA?
MDA, unlike MDMA, has hallucinogenic properties. If you have ever had open or closed eye visuals during a roll, there is a good chance that at least part of the pill you took was MDA. Another noticeable difference is that MDA lacks much of the empathic properties of MDMA. Users generally feel much less "lovey" or understanding of others than with MDMA. The peak of MDA is similar to MDMA (about four hours), but its stimulant properties tend to last much longer - up to 12 hours, making it harder to go to bed at the end of the night.
So how can I tell the difference?
Get DanceSafe's complete adulderant screening kit. It's a little more expensive than the regular kit, but your money is going to support DanceSafe which is a great cause, and one kit can test hundreds of pills so you'll get plenty of use out of it.
The testing kits are somewhat crude, and aren't of much help when pills have multiple drugs in them, which they often do. In that case, sending it into the lab for testing is your best bet.
If you didn't test your pill, but find yourself having a long, "trippy roll", just be sure to follow all the same precautions as you would with MDMA (see Safety Concerns), and try to enjoy the experience. Unlike most ecstasy adulterants, MDA can actually be quite enjoyable.
Why is MDA sometimes sold instead of MDMA?
It is not any easier or less expensive to produce MDA than it is MDMA. The reason MDA is sometimes found on the market is because there is a small demand specifically for MDA among the users and manufacturers that appreciate it, but not enough of a demand that it can be profitable without selling it as "ecstasy". Most end-level dealers are not even aware that there is a difference between the two drugs, and they honestly believe that they are just selling "ecstasy".