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

Certain adverse effects like anxiety may last up to a week

Drugs at a house party
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MDMA, commonly known as ecstasy or molly, is a synthetic, illegal drug used recreationally for its mild hallucinogenic and stimulant properties, as well as its ability to increase emotional closeness. 

Unlike a prescription drug, it isn't manufactured as a standard dose. Instead, it is made by illegal labs and packaged as tablets, capsules, liquid or powder of unknown strength and ingredients.

Metabolism of MDMA in the Body

In terms of its metabolism, research suggests that MDMA taken by mouth reaches its maximal blood concentration in about two hours.

As ecstasy is metabolized, it is secreted into the urine and can be present for up to two days. In addition, hair follicles maintain a trace of all drugs a person has taken, and ecstasy is no exception, so it may linger for months.

While MDMA may be present in the urine for up to two days, the effects of ecstasy may be much shorter or longer. In fact, the recreational or desired effects of MDMA (like the euphoria) last a shorter duration than many of the undesirable or adverse effects (like anxiety or impulsivity).

Recreational Effects of MDMA and How Long They Last

While the recreational effects of MDMA usually last about 3 to 6 hours, the half-life of the drug is closer to 7 hours. Therefore, people who take ecstasy may try to take more of the drug as the "high" begins to wear off, while the first dose is still in their system.

Adverse Effects of MDMA and How Long They Last

Although the "high" of ecstasy use can diminish after a few hours, the majority of adverse effects can last up to 24 hours.

These adverse effects include:

  • nausea
  • vision problems (for example, blurred vision or increased light sensitivity)
  • dry mouth
  • muscle cramping or tension
  • jaw and/or teeth clenching that is out of your control
  • sweating

According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, there are also adverse effects of ecstasy that may last up to a week.

These include:

  • Irritability
  • Impulsiveness and aggression
  • Depression
  • Sleep problems
  • Anxiety
  • Memory and attention problems
  • Decreased appetite
  • Decreased interest in and pleasure from sex

Another danger of using ecstasy is it has been found to hamper the body's ability to regulate temperature. Users, therefore, can experience extreme spikes in their body temperature that can result in heart, kidney, and/or liver failure and even death.

Variability of Effects of Ecstasy

All of these effects are variable depending on how much MDMA you have taken and in what time frame. For instance, if you take larger doses or take multiple doses over time, it can stay in your system longer.

Another important point is that because pills sold on the street as ecstasy may contain other drugs. For example, so-called "pure" Molly has been found to contain bath salts,  cocainemethamphetamineketamine, and even over-the-counter cough medications.

Users must be aware that the effects of those substances will also be at work in their system and have their own set of effects and timetable. This can affect how MDMA affects you and for how long as well.

In addition to the dose of a drug and whether other drugs are present, other potential factors that influence drug metabolism include age, genetics (some people may be fast or slow MDMA metabolizers), or whether a person has any underlying health problems like liver or kidney disease.

The big picture here is that when you take an illegally manufactured drug, it is not possible to be precise regarding how long it will have any effects on your brain or when your body has eliminated it.

A Word From Verywell

Ecstasy is an illegally manufactured drug, so you never really know what you are getting. It could contain other drugs and substances that can be detected long after the ecstasy is out of your system. Ecstasy pills purchased on the street can also contain other substances, which interact negatively with alcohol, adding another level of significant danger to their use.

Sources:

Cone EJ, Huestis MA. Interpretation of oral fluid tests for drugs of abuse. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2007 Mar;1098:51-103.

Mayo Medical Laboratories. (October 2016). Approximate Detection Times. Drugs of Abuse:

American Association for Clinical Chemistry Lab Tests Online. (May 2016). Drugs of Abuse Testing

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, Ecstasy)

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (October 2016). Drug Facts: MDMA Ecstasy/Molly

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