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Ecstasy Detection Time – How Long Does Ecstasy (MDMA) Stay In Your System?

Joseph Sitarik, DO

Medically reviewed by

Joseph Sitarik, DO

February 12, 2019

After the initial effects of the drug wear off, the amount of time ecstasy can be detected in someone’s system can vary depending on several factors. Treatment for ecstasy abuse may be needed to address the physical and cognitive damage that can be caused by excessive use.

Ecstasy is a common nickname for the synthetic drug MDMA, which is known to cause hallucinatory effects. It can come in the form of a tablet, capsule, or less commonly as a liquid.

The drug is classified as a hallucinogen that can have effects on the brain and body. While the initial “high” identified with ecstasy use only lasts a few hours, some short and potential long-term effects may linger after the initial effects have worn off.

After the initial effects of the drug have worn off, traces of the ecstasy may still be detected in a person’s system.

Ecstasy Drug Testing And Detection Times

The length of time that ecstasy may be detected depends in part on the testing method used. Different testing methods can vary in their efficiency as it concerns detecting traces of drugs in the body.

Drug tests that may detect ecstasy include blood, saliva, urine, and hair:

  • Urine: Urine tests may be able to detect MDMA in the system for one to three days, and in some cases up to five.
  • Blood: Ecstasy may be found in the blood for one to two days following drug use.
  • Saliva: After use, ecstasy may be detected in saliva for one to two days. Taking high doses may result in a detection time of up to three days.
  • Hair: Like many other drugs, although most traces of ecstasy will leave the system within a week, traces of the drug may be found in hair follicles for up to 90 days.

In addition to the testing method used, there are some other factors that can influence how long ecstasy may be detected in a person’s system.

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Factors That Affect Ecstasy Detection Time

There are several factors that can affect how long ecstasy stays in the body. Detecting traces of ecstasy following drug use depends on how fast the substance is metabolized (broken down) and removed from the body.

The exact window of detection time for ecstasy can vary from person to person. This depends on certain factors known to affect how quickly the drug is metabolized.

The following are factors that can affect detection time:

Dose

Taking larger doses, or multiple doses of ecstasy can affect how long the drug stays in a person’s system.

Body Mass Index (BMI)

Bodyweight can impact how quickly a drug metabolizes in the body. A larger person may metabolize the drug faster, and therefore experience faster removal of ecstasy from their body than a person of smaller size.

Genetics

Due to genetic factors, some people may metabolize MDMA slower or faster than others. This can affect how long you feel the drug’s effects, as well as how long it remains detectable in your body.

Health And Age

Having health problems such as damaged kidney and liver function, or liver and kidney disease, may impact detection time. Human metabolism also tends to slow down with age, which can cause older individuals to have longer drug detection times.

Effects of Ecstasy On The Brain

Ecstasy (MDMA) use has several effects on brain function. Ecstasy can boost the levels of certain chemicals in the brain — including serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine — which are responsible for regulating mood and emotions, among other things. This is what can cause the “high” experienced with ecstasy use.

Those who take ecstasy may begin to feel its effects within 45 minutes after taking a dose. The initial side effects of ecstasy on the brain include:

  • increased energy
  • euphoria
  • increased sociability
  • sexual arousal
  • increased closeness and empathy

These effects can be expected to last between 3 and 6 hours.

Some additional short-term side effects may also be experienced for up to a week after taking ecstasy. These effects may be more unpleasant and severe after taking multiple or larger doses of the drug. These short-term effects include the following:

  • irritability
  • anxiety
  • decreased concentration
  • low appetite
  • depression
  • troubles with memory

Effects Of Ecstasy On The Body

Ecstasy use can have several effects on the body that include increases in body temperature, heart rate, sensory perception, and blood temperature.

High doses of ecstasy can disrupt the body’s ability to regulate body temperature. This can put a person at greater risk for dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, and swelling of the brain. It may also cause sweating and hot flashes.

Some of the physical symptoms of ecstasy use may be experienced up to a week after taking the drug. These symptoms include:

  • blurred vision
  • jaw-clenching
  • muscle stiffness
  • nausea
  • low appetite
  • restlessness
  • chills
  • dry mouth

Dangers Of Ecstasy Abuse

As a drug that is illegal and therefore unregulated, ecstasy may often be mixed with other other substances during production. Taking ecstasy that is ‘impure’ can pose dangers to your health — especially when taken in large or multiple doses.

Taking ecstasy mixed with other substances may also impact the effects a person experiences, how long they last, and how long the drug may remain in their system. Combining it with the use of other substances, such as alcohol, caffeine, or amphetamines, may increase the intensity of negative side effects.

Warm-temperature settings, including party settings where crowds of people may be pushed together, can increase the risk of dangerous health problems. One of the most dangerous risks of excessive ecstasy use is spikes in body temperature. This can result in damage to the kidneys, liver, and heart.

Those who take ecstasy may be more likely to engage in risky behaviors, including but not limited to unprotected sex.

Can You Become Addicted To Ecstasy?

Ecstasy is often used for recreational purposes, and may be taken on a single occasion or through regular use.

Some research has shown the possibility of developing an addiction to ecstasy. Experts are still unsure of the high addiction risks associated with this type of drug. In addition, regular use of ecstasy may increase risk of addiction as the body may develop a dependency through repeated use.

Those that have reported cases of addiction have noted experiencing withdrawal symptoms of loss of appetite, decreased concentration, depression, and fatigue.

Whether or not addiction is present, even moderate ecstasy use can be harmful to a person’s health and may cause lasting damage.

Treatment For Ecstasy Abuse

MDMA use disorder is a disease that does not have to be faced alone. Several treatment options are available to provide support for those who need help in overcoming ecstasy abuse.

While there are no medications currently approved to treat MDMA use disorder, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and support groups may be effective for people struggling with ecstasy abuse. People who experience consequences to their mental or physical health as a result of their ecstasy abuse may need to enter an inpatient treatment program to get the help they need.

Contact us today to learn more about ecstasy abuse and treatment options.

National Institute on Drug Abuse - MDMA (Ecstasy/Molly)

National Institute on Drug Abuse - What are the effects of MDMA?

National Institute on Drug Abuse - Is MDMA Addictive?

ScienceDirect - Detection of ‘bath salts’ and other novel psychoactive substances in the hair

National Institutes of Health: U.S. National Library of Medicine - samples of ecstasy/MDMA/“Molly” users MDMA and Metabolite Disposition in Expectorated Oral Fluid Following

National Institutes of Health: U.S. National Library of Medicine - Controlled Oral MDMA Administration Detection times of drugs of abuse in blood, urine, and oral fluid

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