How Long Does Ecstasy Stay in Your System?

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Author: NP Addiction Clinic
Published: April 12, 2022

Ecstasy is a common party drug whose use is widespread both within the US and in other countries. It leaves a user feeling euphoric, energized, and with a sense of emotional closeness to other people due to the way it works in the brain. But how long does ecstasy stay in your system? To answer this question, we will go through different factors that affect how long ecstasy will stay in your system and the different drug tests that can be used to detect MDMA.

Abusing ecstasy can lead to substance addiction and substance use disorder. Fortunately, substance abuse treatment options are readily available and effective. Addiction treatment can help you to get your life back on track and look forward to a future free from substance abuse.

What Is Ecstasy?

Ecstasy, also known as MDMA or molly, is a controlled substance in the United States as it has a high likelihood of abuse. It is an illicit, synthetic drug, meaning that it is produced in a lab rather than being derived naturally. Ecstasy is sometimes known as a club drug as its use leaves people feeling euphoric, wanting to dance, sociable, and with a lot of energy. It is widely abused by young adults; however, its use is not confined to this group of people and it is abused by a range of people.

It comes in powdered form or as a pill, and how it is ingested can affect how quickly it leaves the body. People commonly swallow ecstasy, snort it, or dab it on their gums. Ecstasy taken by snorting leaves the body at a quicker rate than that taken through oral ingestion.

Is Ecstasy Addictive?

In terms of addiction being a physical dependence on a drug, there is mixed research on this. Studies on animals have shown that they will self-administer Ecstasy, which can be a way of measuring whether or not a drug has the potential to be addictive. However, the amount of self-administration is less than in drugs like cocaine, which are much more addictive.

Although taking MDMA here and there does not put someone at high risk of physical addiction, addiction is possible and someone can have a substance use disorder without experiencing withdrawal symptoms or being physically dependent on a drug. If you are worried about a loved one's addiction, some signs to look out for include:

  • Withdrawal from social events where there isn't access to MDMA
  • Change in social circles
  • Secretive behavior and lying
  • Experiencing strong drug cravings
  • An inability to quit despite consequences on health and wellbeing
  • Problems with daily tasks, school work, or paid work
  • Mental health decline

What Are the Effects Associated With Taking Ecstasy?

Ecstasy is what is known as a stimulant drug, as it increases central nervous system activity. It floods the body with serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which are chemical messengers in the brain responsible for regulating:

  • Energy levels
  • Reward system activity
  • Appetite
  • Mood
  • Aggression
  • Sexual arousal
  • Sleep
  • Pain
  • Heart rate
  • Blood pressure

Once taken, ecstasy users feel more empathetic, connected to others, sexually aroused, and euphoric. They feel increased energy levels and more alert, are able to dance for hours on end, and are often more talkative. As well as having stimulant properties, MDMA is also slightly hallucinogenic, giving users a heightened sensory awareness and distortions of color, time, and textures.

Some of the negative side effects that can accompany ecstasy use include:

  • Paranoia
  • Panic attacks
  • High blood pressure
  • Involuntary jaw clenching and teeth grinding
  • Fluctuating body temperature
  • Sweats
  • Nausea
  • Anxiety
  • Blurred vision

What Are the Dangers and Health Risks of Ecstasy Abuse?

Ecstasy is an illicit drug due to the negative effects it can have on both your physical and mental health. These side effects can be experienced whilst on the drug, and also once it has left your system due to the way it interacts in the body.

A big risk of taking MDMA, like most illegal substances, is that it can be mixed with other drugs. MDMA is frequently laced with substances such as:

  • Ketamine
  • Cocaine
  • Bath salts
  • Rat poison
  • Over the counter cough medicine
  • Caffeine
  • LSD
  • Amphetamines

Not being sure whether or not MDMA is pure means that you are at risk of toxic effects or overdose each time you take the drug. Also, taking MDMA with other substances puts you at risk of fatal side effects, as polydrug use is highly dangerous. Ecstasy can also be dangerous for those suffering from health conditions like heart conditions, blood pressure issues, epilepsy, or asthma to take ecstasy.

As the initial euphoria wears off, and in the following days to weeks, users may experience a decreased appetite and suffer such mental health effects as depression, anxiety, and paranoia. This is what is known as a comedown and can be very unpleasant.

Dancing for hours in a hot club can put you at risk of hyperthermia and dehydration. When taking MDMA it is important to be aware of how much to drink. Drinking too little can leave you at risk of dehydrating. However, it can also be dangerous to drink too much. Ecstasy causes the body to produce a hormone that can prevent urination which can affect the body's salt balance. It is therefore recommended that you drink no more than one pint of water (or soft drinks) per hour.

How Long Does Ecstasy Stay in Your System?

Half-Life

When answering the question 'how long does ecstasy stay in your system?', we need to look at the drug's half-life. Half-life is the length of time that it takes for the body to get rid of half of a drug. The half-life of MDMA is around 8-9 hours meaning that after this time only half of the ecstasy will be left in the system. It takes roughly five half-lives for the system to eliminate the majority of the drug, so after 40 hours most of the ecstasy will have left the body. However, it can stay in the body for longer than this.

The liver breaks down MDMA into metabolites, which are its chemical compounds, which then pass to the kidneys and eventually into the bladder where they are excreted. The metabolites that ecstasy is broken down into are what is detectable in a drug test.

Metabolic Rate

How long ecstasy stays in the system is determined by several factors. The amount taken, whether there are other drugs added, and the pH of urine can all affect the rate at which it is eliminated from the body. Metabolism also determines how quickly ecstasy leaves the body, a factor which can be affected by the following:

  • Age
  • Weight
  • Metabolic rate
  • Kidney function
  • Liver function
  • Genes

Drug Tests

Although Ecstasy is not one of the five drugs commonly tested for by employers, it can show up on these tests as its metabolites are detectable. Each test used has a different detection window.

Urine tests. Urine tests are simple, cheap, fast, and can detect Ecstasy for 1-3 days.

Saliva tests. Saliva tests can detect MDMA for up to two days.

Blood tests. Blood testing for Ecstasy has a detection window of 1 and 2 days; once taken orally it can peak at a maximum concentration in around 2 hours.

Hair follicle tests. Drug tests that use hair follicles are not so common as this is generally a more expensive method of testing; however, it does offer a long detection window of up to 3 months.

Addiction Treatment

Fortunately, ecstasy addiction is not common. However, if you feel that you may be suffering from substance abuse and ecstasy addiction, there is addiction treatment available. Outpatient treatment will help you to understand substance abuse problems and support groups can help you to feel connected to other people undergoing similar experiences. Treatment will help you to work through ways to cope with addiction and heal from substance use.

Conclusion

The length of time that Ecstasy will stay in a system is ultimately dependent on the metabolism, body composition, and organ function of the individual, the pH of urine, and the amount of drug used. However, the half-life of MDMA is around 8-9 hours, so you can use this to work out how long the drug will stay in your body. Different drug tests - each with a different detection window - can be used to detect the metabolites of ecstasy.

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