Ecstasy remains in one’s system for about six hours after ingestion, but it can generally be detectable on drug tests for a few days.
Urine tests are most commonly used to test for ecstasy use, and they can detect use within the past three days. Hair follicle tests can detect past use within the prior three months.
What Is Ecstasy?
Ecstasy is one of the names for 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine, which is also called MDMA or Molly. It is most associated with abuse in a social setting like a nightclub, concert, or rave.
It was originally derived from amphetamines in 1912 by German scientists as an appetite-suppressing prescription drug.
It was a little-known and rarely used drug until the 1970s when federal control over it loosened in the U.S. It became a medication prescribed by therapists to help their patients overcome trauma, depression, and other issues during psychotherapy.
By the 1980s, it was being abused for nonmedical reasons. By 1988, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) rescheduled MDMA so that it was a Schedule I substance, meaning it is not believed to have any medical use.
Effects of Ecstasy
This drug is both a stimulant and a hallucinogen. It triggers the release of serotonin in the brain, which causes changes in both mood and the body. You will feel happier, more energetic, more trusting, and more empathetic. You will have less of a need for sleep and food, and you’ll feel warmer and more physically energized.
There Are Other Physical Side Effects of Ecstasy Use Including:
- Muscle tension
- Jaw clenching or teeth grinding
- Elevated body temperature, including to a dangerous point over 106 degrees Fahrenheit (hyperthermia)
- Fast heartbeat
- High blood pressure
- Rapid breathing
- Cold chills
- Blurry vision
There are many mental side effects of use as well. Among them are:
- Intensified senses
- Powerful euphoria
- Empathy for others and feelings of emotional warmth
- Hallucinations, especially tactile sensations
Many of the side effects associated with ecstasy will feel good for a few hours. They could become uncomfortable as the euphoria wears off, but the drug remains active in your body. Eventually, your body will metabolize the MDMA out, and then you will experience withdrawal or comedown symptoms.
How Long Does Ecstasy Stay Active In The Body?
Most people take ecstasy orally, so that means it will be digested and absorbed in the small intestine. Typically, it takes 15 to 40 minutes for one dose of ecstasy to fully bind to your brain, with the intensity of many of the effects lasting between 60 and 90 minutes.
After that, the drug’s enjoyable effects will decrease, but it remains active in your body for up to six hours, which can become uncomfortable. This discomfort may lead some people to take another dose of the drug.
The Comedown Experience Includes Various Symptoms Such As:
- Sleep trouble, both too much and too little sleep
- Cravings for the drug
- Memory difficulty
While MDMA is not considered addictive, the negative side effects, loss of euphoria, and uncomfortable comedown symptoms may cause you to take more of the drug just to feel good again. This can be dangerous.
MDMA is metabolized by the liver into an active metabolite called methoxyamphetamine, which has a longer half-life of 16 to 38 hours. Consuming more ecstasy means there will be more of this metabolite in the blood, which can, in turn, increase concentrations of MDMA if you take another dose. This compounding effect can cause toxicity, including damage to the liver, heart, and brain from an overdose, which may be fatal.
Abusing MDMA repeatedly can be very harmful and a sign of addiction. Evidence-based rehabilitation programs can help you end this addiction, starting with medically supervised detox. One of the ways that detox and rehabilitation programs ensure that you have not relapsed is through regular drug testing. Substances show up in different ways and at different times with various biological tests.
Drug Tests and How They Find Mdma in Your Body
Depending on when you consumed an intoxicating drug, metabolites from it will show up in various parts of your body. Some of these can be tested to determine how recently you have abused drugs or alcohol. Blood and urine tests are often considered the most reliable tests, but there are also hair and saliva-based drug tests.
- Blood: MDMA is detectable in the blood between 12 hours and 24 hours after it is consumed when it is orally taken. Digestion does not release drugs into the blood immediately; it allows for much slower release and often longer highs. It is very rare for ecstasy to be smoked or injected, but these methods of abuse have occurred, which would mean MDMA would show up in a blood test much faster than standard consumption methods.
However, blood tests are considered very invasive, so they are rarely administered. Urine tests are the most common approach to drug testing in a detox or rehabilitation program.
- Urine: This is the most common way to test for MDMA/ecstasy use. MDMA remains detectable in urine, as it is excreted through the kidneys after being metabolized by the liver, for between two and four days after a single dose is ingested. The average elimination time is 72 hours. However, if your urine is more alkaline than average, ecstasy can remain present for more than 72 hours; you could test positive for the drug for between four and five days instead.
- Hair: This is not a very common approach to drug testing because it does not show an immediate record of drug consumption. However, the intoxicating substances you consume can show up in strands of your hair weeks or months after you took the drug, so hair tests can show your substance abuse history. A hair follicle analysis can show whether you abused ecstasy at any point in the past 90 days, or three months.
While hair tests are not likely to be used by detox and rehabilitation programs, this test may be used by potential employers to pre-screen candidates for risky behaviors that can impact their work and the safety of their coworkers. Negative results can be obtained within 24 hours; positive results may take 24 hours to 72 hours.
Hair testing is also sometimes used to determine if other drugs were abused alongside ecstasy, especially if the abuse occurred by accident. A 2016 survey of 90 self-reported attendees at an electronic dance music (EDM) festival who believed they took ecstasy found that 74.4 percent tested positive for MDMA, while 27.8 percent tested positive for synthetic cathinones like bath salts, along with meth and other stimulants. Several did not know they were abusing something other than MDMA.
- Saliva: This is a much more immediate test than urine tests or blood tests. Even a small swab of saliva can show whether you have abused ecstasy for between 1.5 and 10 hours after the substance was consumed. Detection is simplest from 1.5 to 4 hours after MDMA was consumed.
This type of test is not often administered by detox and rehabilitation programs. It is more likely to be used by law enforcement officers to determine if a person was abusing an illicit drug like ecstasy when they were arrested or detained.
Processing for saliva tests takes about one to three minutes, per some law enforcement agencies. Australian police administer saliva tests to determine if a suspect was driving while under the influence of drugs (DUI).
Several factors can affect how you, individually, will metabolize MDMA. They include:
- Body mass index
- Liver and kidney function
- Digestive metabolism
- Prescription or illicit drug abuse with MDMA
Get Help Overcoming Addiction
Although there are no specific medications that can ease the comedown or withdrawal experience from ecstasy, it is important to get medical oversight if you have taken more than one dose of MDMA. Medical supervision is especially important if you regularly or compulsively take the substance. A detox program can monitor withdrawal symptoms, and a physician can prescribe smaller doses of substances to ease some symptoms, like anti-anxiety medication or nausea treatments.
The primary focus of MDMA addiction treatment is rehabilitation, which offers behavioral counseling in groups and individually to help you change your behaviors around intoxicating substances. Rehabilitation programs can also help you develop an aftercare plan when you are near completion of rehab. Evidence-based treatment is crucial to overcoming addiction to potent substances like MDMA, and some form of regular drug testing may be part of your detox or rehab program.