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MDMA, often called ‘ecstasy’ or ‘molly’ is widely used as a party drug because it has both stimulant and hallucinogenic properties, producing feelings of euphoria and energy. It is sometimes thought of as a relatively safe drug to use, compared to other substances and people are often unaware of its effects, its potential for harm, and the time it stays in your system. Here we discuss some important characteristics.
What Are the Effects of MDMA?
Usually taken in tablet form (though sometimes snorted), the substance is often highly adulterated – it is commonly mixed with caffeine, ephedrine, ketamine, or even heroin or cocaine. This makes the effects hard to predict. However, where MDMA (full name methylenedioxymethamphetamine) itself is the main constituent, the hoped-for effects will normally peak within one hour and then gradually decrease, meaning a further tablet is often taken after two or three hours. The desired effects are:
- Intense euphoria – happiness and excitement
- Increased energy and alertness
- Increased response to touch
- Heightened sexual arousal
- Altered perceptions of reality and a need for more stimulation.
However, the feeling of enjoyment may be replaced with less pleasant side effects, especially for heavy or habitual users, such as:
- Loss of appetite
- Hot flushes and sweats
- Panic attacks
- Elevated blood pressure and heart rate.
In some cases, symptoms can become more extreme, resulting in:
- Kidney failure
- Brain swelling
- Unconsciousness and occasionally, death.
What Is the Half-life of MDMA?
The time it takes for half of the drug to be processed and excreted by an adult body is eight to nine hours. This is known as the ‘half-life’. It is considerably longer than for some popular drugs such as cocaine or heroin which commonly have a half-life of under one hour (and which thus usually produce greater withdrawal problems).
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How Long Does MDMA Stay in Your System?
MDMA can be detected in your system for up to ninety days using certain types of drug tests though in general, it is detectable for up to five days. In common with other types of drug abuse, there are factors that can affect the length of time for each person, including:
- The amount taken
- Body mass and overall health
- The metabolic rate of the individual
- Other medications they may be taking
- What and when they have recently eaten
- The purity of the substance taken.
Mixing MDMA with other drugs can affect the time traces remain in your system because your body has more work. In general, the more you take, the longer you spend using and the more you mix substances, then the more your system will struggle to deal with the situation. You will be putting yourself in more danger as a result.
MDMA and Drug Tests
- Drug testing procedures for drug abuse tend primarily to cover bodily fluids, whatever the kind of substance ingested. They are not always reliable and more than one type of drug test may need to be employed to establish the facts. Drug testing for MDMA covers all or some of the following:
- Blood Testing: blood tests can be used as reliable indicators of MDMA use, detecting the substance in your system for 1 to 2 days after use. In some cases, it can be detected in your blood for longer.
- Breath Testing: breathalysers have been employed on people with ecstasy addiction or suspected ecstasy abuse but they are not commonly used at present, although they appear able to provide evidence of this.
- Hair Testing: your hair will retain traces of MDMA use longer than any other part of your body – up to three months.
- Saliva Testing: probably the most common form of a drug test for MDMA, saliva tests are often the first method used (such as by UK police for roadside incidents). This test can detect the drug for up to seventy-two hours.
- Urine Testing: traces of MDMA can show up in urine for around three days after use.
How to Get MDMA Out of Your System
MDMA is a drug that does not usually cause serious withdrawal problems. However, traces can stay in the body for several days and during that time you may find yourself feeling down, depressed and wanting to use more of the drug. You may also be feeling abnormally tired. For these reasons and perhaps others as well, it will be desirable to completely rid your body of the substance as soon as possible. There is no way of speeding up the detoxification process – you must let your body do this naturally. But you can minimise any possible side effects with a bit of self-care. Drink plenty of water, take sensible exercise, eat healthily, and be sure to get enough sleep.
Treatment for MDMA Addiction
MDMA addiction is treatable with both residential and daycare programmes. At Castle Craig Group we recognise that everyone’s needs are special, and the first step is to discuss and assess the kind of treatment most suitable for you.
- Residential treatment – this has the advantage of round-the-clock medical and therapeutic support, especially welcome if detox is required. A stay of four to six weeks can be followed by a longer period in supported housing if this is thought appropriate, through mutual discussion. Time in residential rehab gives you expert attention in the form of counselling, group therapy, and complementary therapies such as acupuncture, relaxation, and equine therapy while you experience the inspiration and support of a motivated peer group.
- Day-care – if your circumstances (family or work issues, for example) make it impractical to attend residential rehab then an outpatient treatment programme may be the path to take. This still requires a firm commitment to regular attendance at individual counselling and group therapy sessions as well as other therapy assignments. Day-care is successful when a person establishes support contacts in their local community as well as family support. Self-help groups such as NA (Narcotics Anonymous) are strongly recommended.
- Teletherapy and aftercare – Recovery from any kind of substance addiction is not an event but a process that continues beyond rehab, whether that is residential or daycare. We will always discuss your ongoing needs so that you remain clean and sober in the future. We will work with you to produce a continuing care plan that may include follow-up visits or teletherapy sessions.
Is MDMA the same as ecstasy?
Yes – although substances sold on the street as ecstasy may contain many adulterants, from bath salts to cocaine or amphetamines. MDMA is the abbreviated name for the synthetic chemical compound methylenedioxymethamphetamine, otherwise known as ecstasy, molly, beans, disco biscuits, ‘E’ and other names besides.
How is MDMA taken?
It is most commonly taken as a pill or capsule of around 100 milligrams but it can also be taken in liquid form or snorted as powder. It is often taken together with other drugs, especially alcohol or marijuana. It is sometimes taken in highly dangerous combinations such as with heroin, cocaine or Viagra.
How long do the effects last?
The drug can take a half hour to have full effect, sometimes longer, depending on the dose and individual circumstances. The overall effect can last around six hours but can continue several days for some people. It is common practice to begin by taking one or two tablets and then to top up with an additional tablet when the effect begins to wear off. This will increase the time that the drug stays in your system and will also increase the danger of harmful side effects.
How does MDMA work on your brain?
MDMA stimulates the production of the following brain chemicals: