MDMA is an illicit drug. MDMA and ecstasy pills are known as club drugs, and affect both mood and behavior. MDMA is frequently abused, and comes with health risks both while taking it and afterwards. Drug use can lead to addiction, withdrawal symptoms when the drug is taken away, and consequently to a substance use disorder.
Drug testing can be done as a way to check for metabolites in ecstasy: different methods of drug testing have different detection windows. Drug testing for MDMA is not too common but it can be done, and common drug tests are able to detect the drug. How long MDMA can stay in your body is dependant on various factors, such as age, body composition, as well as the dosage and purity of the drug, among other factors.
What Is MDMA?
MDMA, short for 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine, is a synthetic drug that is commonly abused in the United States and elsewhere. MDMA is also frequently referred to as ecstasy or molly, and is known as a club drug as it is typically abused in a party setting by young adults. However, it is also used widely by a large demographic of people in different settings.
MDMA comes in powder or pill form. The pills can be swallowed, or else crushed up and snorted. Snorting MDMA will result in the drug leaving the body faster than taking it orally. The powder is generally dabbed on the gums, snorted, or wrapped in cigarette paper and swallowed which is known as 'bombing'. It is important to note that a drug called 'liquid ecstasy' that comes in liquid form is not the same as ecstasy, but is actually a drug called GHB.
MDMA is illegal and is a controlled substance in the United States, meaning that it has a high potential for abuse. Abusing the drug can lead to MDMA addiction and substance use disorder. Although ecstasy addiction is not that common, it is possible, and withdrawal symptoms can occur.
What Are the Effects of MDMA?
MDMA is a central nervous system stimulant, acting on the brain's neurotransmitters to increase levels of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. It also has weak hallucinogenic properties, leaving a user with heightened sensations. An MDMA high typically lasts between 3-6 hours, with the drug entering the bloodstream in around 30 minutes.
Once MDMA is in the bloodstream, a user will commonly feel a mixture of the following effects:
- Increased feelings of trust, empathy, and compassion
- Happiness and euphoria
- Increased energy and alertness
- A desire to dance
- Distortions to sensory perception (colors, textures, time)
Taking the drug is not without its risks however. Some of the more dangerous effects of taking MDMA include:
- Panic attacks
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Blurred vision
- Fluctuations in body temperature
- Paranoid feelings
- Jaw clenching
- Teeth grinding
What Are the Risks of Taking MDMA?
As with all forms of drug abuse, taking MDMA comes with various health risks. It is important to be aware of the risks so that you can spot when you, or someone else using the drug, may be in danger.
Get help: Rehab in Orange County
As MDMA is a stimulant drug, users are at risk of dehydration and overheating. The combination of dancing for hours without replenishing your body with water, as well as effect of MDMA on your body temperature can lead to dangerous effects. It is therefore vital to sip no more than a pint of water or non-alcoholic drink per hour. Drinking too much water can lead to water toxicity as the drug causes ecstasy users to produce a hormone that impacts the body's ability to urinate which can affect the salt balance in the body.
One of the main dangers of taking MDMA is the fact that it is commonly laced with other substances. Not knowing if you are taking pure MDMA or MDMA mixed with other drugs is very risky, and can be fatal. Some of the substances with which MDMA is occasionally laced include:
- Synthetic cathinones (bath salts)
- Rat poison
- Over the counter cough medicine
Due to the drug increasing feelings of trust and arousal, users are also at risk of unsafe sexual activity and of trusting strangers. It can also lead you to consume other drugs or alcohol simultaneously, which is dangerous as it increases the chance of MDMA overdose. Those with health conditions such as epilepsy, heart conditions, asthma, or blood pressure problems are at a high risk when taking MDMA and should avoid it. Chronic use has been linked to damage to the heart and liver, as well as kidney disease.
MDMA can also harm your mental health: the collection of negative impacts felt in the days or weeks after taking the drug is known as a comedown. When MDMA is taken, the body overproduces serotonin, so that the body is in deficit once the drug has worn off. This can lead to feelings of depressed, anxiety, and paranoia. Due to excessive dancing and stimulation in the body, it is also common to feel dehydrated and fatigued after sobering up.
What Is the Half Life of MDMA?
The term half life refers to the amount of time it takes for the body to eliminate half of the drug from the system. The half life of MDMA is between 8 and 9 hours. This means that after 8-9 hours only half of the drug will still be present in the body. It therefore takes around 40 hours for the majority of MDMA to exit your body.
Once in your system, your body will begin to metabolize MDMA. It is first broken down by the liver and made into chemical compounds called metabolites. These metabolites are what a drug test will look for.
What Drug Tests Can Be Used to Detect MDMA?
There are five drugs which are commonly tested for by the standard five-panel drug test that most employers use. These are:
- Phencyclidine (PHP)
MDMA is not one of these five drugs, however it can be detected by testing. Ecstasy has different detection windows depending on the type of test used. Its metabolites, as well as other substances, can be identified through the following tests:
Urine testing. Urine tests can detect MDMA around 1-3 days after taking it. Urine tests are simple to conduct and commonly done;
Hair testing. Hair testing through hair follicles is not common, but has a detection window of up to 3 months;
Blood testing. MDMA can reach maximum blood concentration when taken through oral ingestion in roughly 2 hours. Blood testing has a detection window of between 1 and 2 days;
Saliva testing. Detectable up to 1-2 days after taking.
What Can Affect the Length of Time MDMA Stays in Your System?
A person's metabolism affects how long a drug stays in the body. The drug metabolism can be affected by:
- Kidney and liver function (having kidney or liver disease can affect how long it stays in the system)
- Metabolic rate
Different urine pH can affect the length of time that MDMA can stay in your system. Generally, the higher the urine pH, the slower the urine is excreted and so the longer MDMA or other substance stays in the body.
Ecstasy will stay in your system for longer if taken in higher doses. Taking ecstasy in a single or in multiple doses also affects the length of time it stays in the system. When ecstasy is laced with other drugs this can also affect how long it is present in the system.
MDMA is a party drug whose recreational effects can be tempting, but come with risks. To answer the question 'how long does mdma stay in your system?' you need to look at the drug's half life, alongside individual factors such as metabolism, urine pH levels, and its dose.
If you are worried about your own drug use, or the drug use of a loved one, there is a way out. Admitting you need help is the first stage, and there are many treatment options and plans available to help you on your journey to recovery and a life free from drug addiction.