How Lond Does MDMA Stay in Your System?

Published 2016-07-01 18:00:00 drugs pharmacokinetics

How long does it take for MDMA to be metabolized? There are lots of reasons you might be interested in how long MDMA can be detected after ingestion. For example, you might be worried about an impending drug test or want to know when you’ll feel like your old self again.

The elimination half-life of MDMA is approximately eight hours, although the euphoriant effects only last approximately half that time. In case you’re unfamiliar: the half-life of a drug is the amount of time it takes for the concentration to be halved in the bloodstream.

Table 1. How fast MDMA is metabolized after ingestion.

Time (h) Percent MDMA remaining (%)
8 hours 50%
16 hours 25%
24 hours 12.5%

Based on Table 1, 12.5% of the original dose will remain in your system after 24 hours and it takes approximately 2-3 days for MDMA to be fully eliminated. Read onward for a more detailed, evidence-based explanation.

Need to get MDMA out of your system quickly? Here’s how you can hasten metabolism, elimination, and excretion:

  • This may be obvious, but I’ll say it anyway: stop using MDMA
  • Avoid CYP2D6 inhibitors (here’s a list)
  • Acidify your urine (cranberry juice might help with this)

Just in Case You're Unfamiliar: What's MDMA?

MDMA is shorthand for 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine.

The United States government has classified MDMA as a schedule I controlled substance. This means that MDMA has no accepted medical use, a high potential for misuse, and can potentially be dangerous when used outside medical oversight. However, some argue MDMA has medical benefits. It is being used by physicians in specific medical contexts (e.g., for PTSD) (Further reading: MDMA-assisted psychotherapy).

The drug itself is an amphetamine derivative that has hallucinogenic properties resembling mescaline. Other amphetamines include the prescription drug Adderall; the illicit drug methamphetamine; and para-chloroamphetamine, a neurotoxin used by neurology researchers.

MDMA is a popular drug because it elevates mood and enhances empathy among its users. It can dissolve boundaries and elicit a profound sense of connectedness with others. It induces euphoria, distorts time, and alters cognition. These factors lead to the popularity of MDMA use at raves (dance parties) and concerts because they enhance the experience.

So How Long Does MDMA Remain in the Body Anyway?

Assuming you’ve stopped using the drug and are coping with uncomfortable MDMA withdrawal symptoms, a large fraction of the drug may have cleared out of your system. You’ll most likely anticipate your "high" to have subsided long before half the drug has been eliminated. Usually, euphoriant effects only last approximately 3-5 hours, whereas it takes your body approximately eight hours to remove 50% of the drug. Although most users will have cleared MDMA from their system within 2 days, it may take up to 3 days for some individuals.

Also, the metabolite HMMA (4-hydroxy-3-methoxy-methamphetamine) is believed to stay in the body for almost 33 hours longer than MDMA. Hence, it could take up to 3 days for this metabolite to be eliminated.

What Factors Influence Ecstasy (MDMA) Clearance?

The determinants of MDMA metabolism and clearance from the body are vary between people. One individual may discover they are able to pass an MDMA drug test within two days following use, yet another may fail an identical drug test.

These variables determine someone's ability to efficiently clear MDMA from their system:

  • body mass index
  • genetics
  • liver/kidney function
  • ingestion of other drugs
  • MDMA sourcing/contaminants

Individual Variability

Why can two individuals take identical doses of MDMA, yet one individual clears it faster from their system as opposed to another?

The metabolism and clearance of drugs in the body is subject to minor variations. Such variations include genetics, liver/kidney function, and whether one is taking other drugs (or nutritional supplements).

Age

An individual's age can affect the rate of MDMA metabolism and clearance. Younger individuals tend to have faster metabolisms, are more active, and are generally in better health than elderly (age 65).

Older adults frequently have less the flow of blood to their own liver/kidneys; their organs don’t perform quite as well as they used to. Older individuals are more likely to be taking medications that can interfere with their ability to metabolize MDMA.

BMI (Body Mass Index)

Whenever contemplating the rate of drug elimination, BMI (body mass index) is important to consider. The greater the dosage of MDMA you take in relationship to your own BMI, the longer it will take to be eliminated from your system. It is easier for larger (high BMI) person to process a typical dose of MDMA compared to a smaller (low BMI) person.

Genetics

Genetics influence the rate by which we metabolize certain drugs. Ecstasy is metabolized mainly in the liver by the CYP2D6 enzyme (cytochrome P450 2D6).

Genetic variations in the CYP2D6 enzyme will impact the rate of metabolism and clearance of the drug. People carrying a certain genetic CYP2D6 variant may take more time than others to metabolize MDMA, whereas others, with a different CYP2D6 genetic variant, may rapidly clear it from their system.

Liver/kidney function

Since MDMA is metabolized mainly by the liver, people with poor liver function may not clear the drug as rapidly. Decreased liver function leads to a drawn-out, less efficient metabolic process. This extends the duration over which MDMA remains in the body. On the other hand, people with an optimally functioning liver metabolize MDMA swiftly.

Metabolism

Unremarkably, people with fast metabolisms eliminate MDMA more quickly than people with slow metabolisms. The impact of day-to-day exercise, muscle tissue, and diet have on metabolism is important and may affect the clearance of MDMA. The body’s metabolic rate decreases during sleep and this may have an impact on the duration of MDMA in the body.

Urine

Urine with a high alkalinity (pH>7.4) can prolong the body’s ability to remove MDMA. This is because the chemical structure of MDMA has a basic nitrogen atom under acidic conditions which can raise the half-life of MDMA to between 16 and 31 hours.

Other drugs/nutritional supplements

Different drugs interact with and affect the metabolism of MDMA.

Any drug that inhibits the function of liver enzyme CYP2D6 can potentially impair the metabolism of MDMA. MDMA lingers in your system for longer when compared to a person who isn't taking any SSRIs (Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) or substances recognized to influence the activity or expression of CYP2D6.

However, specific nutritional supplements or drugs may improve the activity or expression of CYP2D6 enzymes (i.e. "inducers"), thus expediting MDMA metabolism.

Here’s a list of common CYP2D6 inhibitors:

Strong

  • certain SSRIs
  • fluoxetine
  • paroxetine
  • bupropion (non-SSRI antidepressant)
  • quinidine (class I antiarrhythmic agent)
  • cinacalcet (calcimimetic)
  • ritonavir (antiretroviral)

Moderate

  • sertraline (SSRI)
  • duloxetine (SNRI)
  • terbinafine (antifungal)

MDMA-Specific Factors

How long does ecstacy stay in your system Figure 1. Pathways of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) metabolism in rats and in humans.[/caption]

As an effect of differences in potency or altered types of MDMA, the duration the drug remains in one's body may be affected by sourcing. MDMA can be contaminated or cut with other substances without the knowledge of the consumer.

Some types of MDMA are laced with methamphetamine, lsd, caffeine, ephedrine, fentanyl, ketamine, and LSD. In other instances, people may be duped into believing they have bought ecstasy, when in reality the tablets (or pills) include no real MDMA. The actual composition of the ecstasy, potency, and whether other drugs are co-ingested will influence metabolism and the length of time the ecstasy lingers in one's body.

The dosage of MDMA an individual consumes is subject to individual variation. Generally, a frequent ecstasy user will take between 50 milligrams and 700 milligrams of MDMA per night.

If somebody takes only a "single dose" of MDMA, their body will clear the drug at a faster rate than an averaged person ingesting multiple doses throughout the night. Re-dosing in a short time frame leads to the accumulation of MDMA in one’s system, hindering clearance.

Following the ingestion of MDMA, it's rapidly absorbed by the gastrointestinal tract and the effects of the drug are usually felt within half an hour of ingestion. The peak level of metabolites usually occurs within six hours of ingestion. Common MDMA metabolites are:

  • MDA (3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine)
  • HMA (4-hydroxy-3-methoxyamphetamine)
  • HMMA (4-hydroxy-3-methoxy-methamphetamine)
  • HHMA (3,4-dihydroxymethamphetamine)
  • DHA (3,4-dihydroxyamphetamine)
  • MDP2P (3,4-methylenedioxyphenylacetone)
  • MDOH (3,4-Methylenedioxy-N-hydroxyamphetamine)

Initially, MDMA is metabolized into MDA, which is the primary metabolite found in the bloodstream. Next MDA is broken down into HMA and HHA. This occurs just before they are excreted in the urine. The amount of MDMA administered has an effect on the levels of metabolites. At doses below 100 milligrams, HMMA is the most prominent metabolite indicating MDMA was ingested. Yet, when administered at doses exceeding 100 milligrams, the percent of unchanged MDMA surpasses that of HMMA.

The metabolite HMMA can be found in urine for almost 33 hours longer than MDMA and in some individual's HMMA is detectable for almost 3 days after ingestion of MDMA. For this reason, drug tests strategically focus on identifying the presence of HMMA rather than MDMA.

Most regular drug tests can’t directly identify the existence of MDMA. Nevertheless, all-inclusive drug tests will have the ability to discover whether an individual has abstained from most drugs of abuse.

Drug Tests

Urine Tests

Urine samples reveal whether an individual has been taking any illegal substances like MDMA. MDMA remains detectable in urine for two to four days post-ingestion.

If someone has urine with a high alkalinity, MDMA may stay inside their system for longer than the typical three day period.

That’s because MDMA has a basic nitrogen atom. Under acidic conditions, this nitrogen atom is protonated, giving it a positive charge. Positively charged, ionic species are more water-soluble and therefore more easily cleared in the kidneys. But under basic conditions, a larger fraction of MDMA in the bloodstream is uncharged, which impedes drug clearance.

Hair Tests

This common method to identify MDMA use is more difficult to evade than urine testing. First,  a hair sample is extracted from the head or elsewhere. The amount of hair needed for this test is between three cm and six cm. Although MDMA is not going to appear within the hair immediately after ingestion, the ability to detect the presence of MDMA in a hair sample is longer than a urine test.

A hair follicle investigation can reveal MDMA use for up to three months after use. If someone has long hair follicles, MDMA may be detectable for more than three months. Hair analyses are advantageous in they are noninvasive and can detect MDMA use over an extended period of time compared to a urine test.

Saliva Tests

Saliva can be examined to investigate the presence of MDMA. Saliva samples are gathered with a swab until about 2 microliters of material is collected.

The saliva discovery apparatus can detect MDMA concentrations in the range of micrograms per liter. MDMA is most readily detectable between 1.5 and 4 hours after ingestion. It is much harder to detect MDMA beyond 6 hours post-ingestion. Saliva tests are most commonly administered by law enforcement officers when they suspect an individual may have ingested MDMA.

Blood Tests

It is improbable that MDMA will be detected in the bloodstream after 24 hours and blood collection is considered highly invasive.  Furthermore, lab mistakes are known to affect blood sample testing. These reasons make use of blood testing infrequent and blood tests are mostly used to validate results from another test administered by law enforcement representatives.

Why Are Individuals Examined for MDMA?

MDMA-creativity-compressor The most apparent reason an individual could be examined is that a law enforcement officer suspects MDMA/drug use based on an individual's behavior. Additionally, it's a common practice for drug rehabilitation facilities to administer an advanced drug test battery to ascertain whether MDMA continues to be ingested by patients.

Criminal Justice

If a law enforcement representative detains an individual or assumes they may be under the influence of an illegal material, they may administer a test to detect MDMA or other drugs. MDMA rarely causes drug-induced psychosis. This can lead to erratic behavior and draw attention from law enforcement. In such an instance, an officer may administer a test to collected evidence. In addition, a drug test may be administered if an individual is undergoing drug rehabilitation in a clinic. The rehabilitation clinic may require standard drug tests to ensure that the individual is staying "clean" from drug use. These rehabilitation facilities typically administer complex types of drug testing to evaluate whether an individual has ceased using MDMA.

Employment

Companies commonly administer drug test to current and prospective employees.  While basic evaluations won’t reveal prior or current MDMA use, specific companies may execute a more sophisticated test that does test for the presence of MDMA or its metabolites.

Military

Military personnel are frequently tested for illegal drug use. They’re required to maintain a drug-free lifestyle so that they'll remain attentive while in training or conflict. It's common for comprehensive drug tests to be administered to ensure an individual has refrained from using MDMA and other illegal drugs.

Clearing MDMA From The Body

If you need to clear MDMA from your body quickly and efficiently, there may be a few things that will accelerate the process. These suggestions may not work for everyone, but can make a difference for others.

Discontinue MDMA Use

The simplest thing that you could do to ensure that MDMA clears out of your system quickly would be to completely stop using it. Many people incorrectly assume that low doses of MDMA are not going to be detected on drug tests. The fact is that while lower doses may be more easily metabolized they are still detectable. The more time passes since your last dose, the more likely MDMA will have cleared from your system.

Urinary pH affects how long MDMA stays in the body. If your pee is highly alkaline (high pH), the half life of MDMA could be expanded within the range of 16 to 31 hours, causing a significantly longer time for clearance of the drug. Thus, it's recommended to raise the acidity of your urine if you need to ensure the most rapid clearance of MDMA.

Nutritional Supplements

It is understood that specific nutritional supplements or drugs known as "inducers" can improve liver metabolism of MDMA. These supplements and drugs work by increasing the ability of CYP2D6 to metabolize MDMA.  Avoiding any supplements that may reduce the ability of CYP2D6 to metabolize MDMA and using supplements that increase this ability may allow for faster MDMA clearance from the body. Daily exercise and diet.

Exercise is known to accelerate metabolism and will probably help your body metabolize MDMA with greater efficiency than if you stayed sedentary. Doing cardio daily is believed to help increase the ability of the body to metabolize and clear drugs.

Staying hydrated is vital if you need to clear any drug from your system. Drink enough water to help ease metabolism of MDMA and urinary excretion. Furthermore, eat a balanced, healthful diet with vegetables and fruits helps provide the body with key antioxidants it needs to function  properly and clear MDMA.

MDMA: Metabolites and Pharmacokinetics

Previous reports described primarily MDMA and MDA pharmacokinetic parameters. The elimination half-life of MDMA 100 milligrams was about 8–9 h, similar to that reported after 50, 75, and 125 mg.

Some studies indicate that MDMA exhibits nonlinear pharmacokinetics. MDA, formed by N-demethylation of MDMA, seems to be a small metabolite, representing 8-9% of the concentrations of MDMA (AUC comparisons) for all the doses examined. This finding is further supported by the fact that MDA urinary recovery is about 1% of the dose administered while for methamphetamine the N-demethylated metabolite (amphetamine) is about 10%.

HMMA is the primary metabolite of MDMA and is found in either in blood or urine. Blood concentrations of HMMA detected are similar to levels corresponding to MDMA. Interestingly, this metabolite is close to the detection limit when examined in its free form and requires an enzymatic hydrolysis of the blood samples for its determination. Urinary detection of this metabolite at a dose of 100 milligrams is about 13-14% of the dose in 24 h, while MDMA detection is 24% of the dose. Higher recoveries are detected with lower MDMA doses while the opposite is found at higher doses. These findings are consistent with MDMA’s nonlinear pharmacokinetics.

HMA is a minor MDMA metabolite; AUC 0-24 h is similar to the one found for MDA, its metabolic precursor. The same observation is related to MDMA and HMMA. Urinary detection of this metabolite is quite low, about 1.5% of the dose in 24 h. Its elimination half-life presented in. In the analytic tests used for the determination of MDMA and its metabolites, medium metabolic products dihydroxymethamphetamine (HHMA) and dihydroxyamphetamine (HHA) aren't detected in blood and only detected in very low concentrations in urine.

Both metabolic products are quite volatile and can be either quickly metabolized by the catechol-methyltransferase. Only the final products HMMA or HMA remain in biological fluid. The evaluation of these intermediate metabolites deserves additional research in the light of the complexities of MDMA metabolism.

The course of blood concentrations of MDMA and its pharmacological effects climb and drop in a similar time frame. As drug concentrations are raised, there’s a parallel increases in physiologic effects.

Both drug concentrations and hormones peak concentrations and peak effects were received between one and two hours and fell to return to baseline values four to six hours after drug administration.

To summarize: MDMA given at recreational doses created mydriasis and noticeable increases in blood pressure, heart rate, and plasma cortisol and prolactin concentrations. Its elimination half-life was about 8-9 h. According to these findings obtained in the lab setting, MDMA consumption in busy conditions, high ambient temperature, and physical exertion (raves) may be connected with a possible life-threatening increase in the toxicity of the drug.

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