Also known as entactogens 

The term empathogen means “generating a state of empathy” where empathy is defined as the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. Empathogenic drugs have psychoactive properties and can produce feelings of emotional connection and openness.

Perhaps the best known empathogen is 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, otherwise known as MDMA. Other examples include MDA, MDEA, methylone and mephedrone. They often have both hallucinogenic and stimulant effects.

Psychiatrists began investigating empathogens as psychotherapy tools in the 1970s but their experiments fell out of favour. More recently there has been renewed interest in the potential therapeutic uses of these drugs, particularly with regard to treating mental health problems.

Updated October 2021

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