Medically Reviewed

How Long Does Ecstasy (MDMA) Stay in Your System?

3 min read · 7 sections

Ecstasy became popular as a club drug in the 1980s but is now used in a wide range of settings, but it can cause several harmful effects that can be fatal in some cases, and the length of time it remains in the body depends on a number of factors.1 Ecstasy is typically still detectable for up to 3 days in blood and saliva tests, 5 days in urine tests, and months after last use in hair strand testing.

What is Ecstasy?

MDMA or Ecstasy is an illegal synthetic drug that people use to experience feelings of well-being, euphoria, and altered perception.1 The National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports that around 18 million Americans say they have used ecstasy at least once during their lives.1

Ecstasy has hallucinogenic and stimulant properties.2 Street names for the substance include Molly, Adam, beans, clarity, disco biscuit, E, eve, go, hug drug, lover’s speed, peace, STP, X, and XTC, but the chemical name is 3,4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA). 1,2

Though pure ecstasy can be dangerous to use, analyses of street ecstasy have found the presence of contaminants such as methamphetamine, ketamine (an anesthetic), caffeine, ephedrine (a diet drug), heroin, phencyclidine (PCP), and cocaine, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.1  People sometimes think that Molly, the powdered crystalline form of ecstasy, is safer to use because they mistakenly believe it doesn’t contain the contaminants that ecstasy does, but Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) analyses found that Molly often contain other drugs and may not have any MDMA in it at all.1

Ecstasy is classified as a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act, meaning there is a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use in the United States.2

How Long Does MDMA Last?

People usually experience ecstasy’s effects 30 to 45 minutes after taking the drug.1,2 Effects and their duration vary by dosage, but generally peak in intensity around 15 to 30 minutes after onset.1 These effects can last 4 to 6 hours but may last for days or even weeks.1,2 People who take ecstasy often take 1 or 2 tablets (each tablet typically contains between 50 and 150 milligrams of MDMA) at a time. They may take an additional tablet when the effects of the first dose start to taper, affecting the length of time that ecstasy stays in the system and increasing the potential risks of adverse side effects, too.1

Ecstasy Side Effects

Side effects associated with ecstasy include:1,2

  • Euphoria, a feeling of intense happiness and excitement.
  • Being more sensitive to touch.
  • Increased energy and alertness.
  • Heightened sexual arousal.
  • Feeling a need for stimulation.
  • Confusion.
  • Paranoia.
  • Anxiety.
  • Appetite loss.
  • Nausea.
  • Hot flashes or chills.
  • Sweating.
  • Panic attacks.
  • Dehydration.
  • Cravings for more ecstasy.
  • Elevated heart rate.
  • Elevated blood pressure.
  • Increased muscle tension.
  • Tremors.
  • Involuntary teeth clenching.
  • Fainting.
  • Seizures.
  • Kidney failure.
  • Loss of consciousness.
  • Brain swelling.

Ecstasy can also cause longer-term effects that last days or weeks after the last use. This can include effects such as:1

  • Sleep disturbances.
  • Depression.
  • Irritability.
  • Poor impulse control.
  • Anxiety.
  • Aggression.
  • Poor attention and memory.
  • Decreased appetite.
  • Heart arrhythmias and heart damage.
  • Heart disease.

MDMA Half-Life

Ecstasy has a half-life of around 8 hours, which means it takes the body about 8 hours to reduce the initial concentration in the bloodstream by 50%.3,4 Thus, after one half-life passes, 50% of the initial amount of the substance remains in the body.5 Furthermore, it can take 5 half-lives for 95% of ecstasy to be removed from the body, which equals about 40 hours.5

How Long Does Ecstasy Stay in Your System?

How long MDMA stays in the system varies. Different MDMA drug tests have different detection windows. These vary by dose and other factors, but, in general, ecstasy is still detectable after ingestion:6-8

  • Blood: For up to 71 hours (around 3 days)
  • Saliva: For up to 71 hours (around 3 days)
  • Urine: For up to 120 hours (5 days)
  • Hair: For months after the last use in hair, depending on hair length and where the sample is taken from on the head.

Factors That Affect How Long Ecstasy Stays in Your Body

Everyone metabolizes substances at different rates, but the length of time that ecstasy stays in the body varies depending on factors, such as:1,5,9,10

  • Dose and frequency of use. The dose you took and how often you took it can impact how quickly MDMA is metabolized.
  • Individual factors. This may include your overall physical health, age, weight, fluid intake, gender, level of exercise, and dietary factors.
  • Variations in genes that control a key enzyme responsible for breaking down substances like ecstasy, can play a role in how long ecstasy stays in your body.

Ecstasy Detox and Addiction Treatment

If you need to take a drug test, getting ecstasy out of your system takes time. However, if you are concerned about testing positive for ecstasy, you may want to consider seeking professional addiction treatment. Seeking treatment can also improve the negative health and social impacts of ecstasy abuse. Additionally, people who abuse ecstasy may often misuse additional substances, such as cocaine, alcohol, or marijuana. Professional addiction treatment can address polysubstance use.1

Different treatment options help you stop the cycle of ecstasy (and other substance) abuse and begin the path to a healthier, drug-free life. Treatment looks different for everyone and caters to your individual needs but can include:1,11-14

  • Detox. Although there are currently no approved FDA medications for treating ecstasy addiction, drug detoxification programs can provide a safe and comfortable environment where you can receive support and supervision to manage acute intoxication if necessary and help you through withdrawal. Some people, who stop using ecstasy, can experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms such as fatigue, loss of appetite, depression, and trouble concentrating. Detox centers can also address co-occurring symptoms, such as depression or anxiety, and administer medication if necessary.
  • Inpatient rehab. Inpatient rehab centers provide you a high level of care and might be beneficial if you have a history of polysubstance use or have co-occurring mental health conditions. You’ll live onsite and receive different types of therapies and round-the-clock support and monitoring.
  • Outpatient treatment. Outpatient rehab allows you to live at home and attend treatment one to several times per week. It might be a good option if you have a supportive home environment or require less intensive treatment.

Ecstasy addiction is primarily treated using cognitive-behavioral methods.14 These techniques are designed to help people modify thoughts and behaviors that contribute to substance use and teach them healthier ways of coping with stress and other life issues.14 People can receive cognitive-behavioral therapies in individual counseling sessions or during group therapy. Participating in mutual support groups can be a helpful adjunct to cognitive-behavioral treatment, as you receive support from others who are also involved in the recovery process.

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