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

MDMA in Your Blood, Urine, & Hair

How long MDMA stays in your system

Verywell / Joshua Seong

MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine) is a synthetic drug that acts as a stimulant, hallucinogen, and entactogen. It is used recreationally for its mild hallucinogenic and stimulant properties, as well as its ability to increase emotional closeness. MDMA is commonly known as ecstasy or molly, though what is referred to by these names is rarely purely MDMA. Rather, it's often "cut" with other substances.

MDMA is a Schedule I controlled substance, which means it has no established medical use and a high potential for misuse, although studies are underway to determine its effectiveness in treatment for anxiety in people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and terminal illness.

MDMA that is used recreationally isn't manufactured as a standard dose. It is made by illegal labs and packaged as tablets, capsules, and powders of unknown strength and ingredients, to be snorted or taken orally.

MDMA can be detected in your body from one to 90 days, depending on the type of test as well as the frequency of use and a person's unique physical characteristics.

How Long Does MDMA Stay in Your System?

Blood: Up to 2 days

Urine: Up to 4 days

Saliva: Up to 2 days

Hair: Up to 90 days

How Long Does It Take to Feel Effects?

MDMA works by boosting the activity of three neurotransmitters—dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine—that play a role in mood, energy level, appetite, trust, sexual activity, emotions, and sleep.

People who use ecstasy typically feel the effects within 30 minutes of taking the drug and report feelings of euphoria, warmth, openness, and clarity as well as heightened sensations of touch, sound, and smell. These effects can last for three to six hours.

MDMA is not a harmless drug. Serious risks include hyperthermia, cardiovascular effects, impaired mental capabilities, risky behavior, and overdose.

Up to 24 hours after taking the drug, side effects include:

  • Nausea
  • Vision problems (blurred vision or increased light sensitivity)
  • Dry mouth
  • Muscle cramping or tension
  • Jaw and/or teeth clenching that is uncontrollable
  • Sweating

After a week or more, users have reported the following side effects:

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

How Long Does MDMA Last?

While the recreational effects of MDMA usually last about three to six hours, the half life of MDMA is 8 to 9 hours. As shown by one study, peak effects are observed between one and two hours and decrease four to 6 hours after taking the drug.

MDMA is not one of the five drugs tested for by the standard five-panel drug test used by most employers; however, it does show up during this test. If MDMA shows up during the amphetamine test of the five-panel, a confirmation test will be run specifically looking for MDMA.

Blood

Research suggests that MDMA taken by mouth reaches its maximal blood concentration in about two hours. MDMA can be detected in blood for one to two days.

Urine

Ecstasy can be present for two to four days in urine.

Hair

Hair follicles maintain a trace of all drugs a person has taken, and MDMA is no exception. While hair drug tests are not common, be aware of the presence of MDMA in hair may linger for months.

False Positive Testing

It's always a good idea to tell the testing agency what other drugs and supplements you are taking so that the presence of these substances on your drug test results don't trigger a false positive.

For example, a 2010 study found that the anti-depressant trazodone led to false positives on a commercial enzyme immunoassay test (Ecstasy EMIT II assay) for MDMA in urine.

If any of the medications you are on trigger a false positive, stay calm and explain the medications you are taking and additional tests will be done to clear up the confusion.

Snorting vs. Oral Ingestion

How you take MDMA can impact detection time. In general, the faster the drug is absorbed into the bloodstream, the shorter the detection window. For example, if you snort MDMA, it will stay in the body for a shorter amount of time than if you take it orally.

Factors That Affect Detection Time

Many factors can influence how a person's body processes or metabolizes MDMA, including the following.

Dosage & Frequency of Use

If you take larger doses or take multiple doses over time, MDMA can stay in your system longer. Similarly, one-time users will have a shorter detection time than people who use the drug more often.

Body Type

Many drugs, or their metabolites, tend to accumulate in fatty tissues, so someone with a higher body mass index (BMI) may take longer to fully eliminate the drug from their body.

Metabolism

Some people may be fast or slow MDMA metabolizers. People with high metabolic rates, which are often affected by age, activity level, and certain health conditions, tend to have a smaller detection window.

Overall Health

Underlying health problems, such as liver or kidney disease, can influence drug metabolism.

How to Get MDMA Out of Your System

Contrary to popular belief, drinking a lot of water will not flush your system of MDMA to help "beat" a drug test. This practice is not only ineffective but it's dangerous during the first 12 hours after taking the drug since MDMA can exacerbate the effects of drinking too much water.

The only way to get MDMA out of your system is to stop taking the drug and allow your body time to metabolize and eliminate it.

Symptoms of Overdose

People who take MDMA may try to take more of the drug as the "high" begins to wear off, while the first dose is still in their system. They may think they aren't feeling anything, end up taking more, and then get hit with a larger dose than they bargained for, which can lead to an accidental overdose.

The following are some symptoms of an MDMA overdose:

  • High blood pressure
  • Feeling faint
  • Panic attacks
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizures

Dangerous Interactions

Using other drugs or alcohol with MDMA increases the risk of overdose. It's important to note that any additional substances cut into MDMA will also have their own set of effects and influence how long the drug stays in your system.

MDMA can temporarily impede the body's ability to regulate temperature. Extreme spikes in body temperature can result in heart, kidney, or liver failure and even death. While no adverse event related to this has been documented in controlled, clinical environments, this effect is believed to be a problem in club environments, where people may be dancing and not drinking enough water.

Well-intentioned narratives about it being extra important to drink water on MDMA can backfire when people begin to drink more water than they need. As a 2016 study showed, MDMA can increase water retention and increase the risk of water toxicity, or hyponatremia, if too much water is ingested. Symptoms of hyponatremia include nausea, confusion, fatigue, irritability, muscle spasms, and seizures.

If you suspect someone has overdosed or is having a negative reaction to MDMA, call 911 immediately.

Getting Help

Symptoms of withdrawal can range from mild to severe, depending on the frequency of use and dependency, and can sometimes cause people to return to using MDMA or another drug to avoid these unpleasant effects.

Symptoms of MDMA withdrawal include:

  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Insomnia
  • Poor memory
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Depression

If you are concerned about having a positive drug test and want to stop using MDMA, help is available. With help, you can learn how to stop using the drug and better cope with any symptoms of withdrawal so you can begin on the road to recovery.

Start by talking to your doctor about your treatment options or call the toll-free SAMHSA national hotline at 1-800-662-4357 to locate treatment services in your area.

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Article Sources
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  2. Logan BK, Costantino AG, Rieders EF, Sanders D. Trazodone, meta-chlorophenylpiperazine (an hallucinogenic drug and trazodone metabolite), and the hallucinogen trifluoromethylphenylpiperazine cross-react with the EMIT®II ecstasy immunoassay in urine. J Anal Toxicol. 2010;34(9):587-9. doi:10.1093/jat/34.9.587

  3. Baggott MJ, Garrison KJ, Coyle JR, et al. MDMA impairs response to water intake in healthy volunteers. Adv Pharmacol Sci. 2016;2016:2175896. doi:10.1155/2016/2175896

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