Last updated: May 25, 2020
Ecstasy, or MDMA, is a synthetic drug. It alters the user’s awareness of surrounding objects and conditions. Chemically similar to hallucinogens and stimulants, it produces feelings of increased energy, wakefulness, pleasure, emotional warmth, and a distorted sense of time. It also shows up on drug tests causing users to wonder how long ecstasy stays in your system.
If you ever attended a rave party, you knew Molly was going to be there. Molly, otherwise known as ecstasy, is still used by teenagers to this day. Statistics show a steady decline in teenage use of the drug since 2014. During a 2018 survey, just over 4% of high school seniors reported having used ecstasy at least once in their lifetime. Only half that number used this drug in 2018.
That’s good news.
More good news
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that even though usage numbers are up for adults from 2016 to 2017, they aren’t up by much. In fact, the increase of those from 12 years and up that admitted to using ecstasy in their lifetime was only 714 people. The number of people that used ecstasy within six months of taking the survey increased by 34 from 2016 to 2017.
MDMA users are in the workforce. The drug is on many employee drug screens. For instance, the DOT drug screen panel includes ecstasy (MDMA) on its amphetamine panel. They use the SAMHSA 5-panel drug test with an added panel for synthetic opiates. Many employers of the general workforce follow suit in regard to employee drug testing.
However, there are several common employee drug testing methods on the market.
Urine drug test
The Department of Transportation (DOT) mandates employers of the safety-sensitive workforce to implement a urine drug test. The tests are given in the following situations:
Not all employers of the general workforce require random drug tests throughout the year, but drug-free protocol often includes reasonable suspicion and post-accident drug testing. However, the majority of employers do choose the urine drug test for employee testing.
Ecstasy shows up in the urine within two hours of taking the drug. Consequently, it remains detectable in the urine for three to four days.
Saliva drug test
This test is also called the mouth swab test. It is becoming more popular as technology becomes more advanced. Employers who wish to determine recent drug use favor the mouth swab test. Ecstasy shows up in saliva fifteen minutes after taking the drug. On the other hand, saliva drug tests detect ecstasy for a period of one to two days.
Hair follicle drug test
Once drugs enter the bloodstream, they make their way to the tiny blood vessels that feed the hair follicles. Within three days, they begin to grow out into the center of the hair shaft. This leaves a permanent record of drug use, no matter what type of drug it is.
Hair grows at the rate of about one-half inch per month. The standard length of hair used for a drug test is one and one-half inches. Thus, hair follicle drug tests report drug use over a ninety-day period.
Blood drug test
Blood testing is the most expensive drug testing method. It is not frequently used, but is, of course, extremely accurate. MDMA is detected in the bloodstream fifteen to thirty minutes after taking it. Subsequently, it is detected by the blood test for one or two days.
There are a number of reasons why ecstasy detection varies, for example up to one or two days with a saliva test. The number of times someone uses the drug plays a part. Other reasons relate to the chemical composition of ecstasy. For example, some substances interact with the chemical makeup of the drug causing it to remain in the system longer.
Moreover, other factors that affect drug metabolism rates are:
- BMI (body mass index)
- kidney function
- liver function
Users can’t flush the drug from their system. Moreover, those that try this technique may be putting themselves at risk of water toxicity because a side effect of ecstasy is that it increases water retention.
Ill effects outnumber the positive
We listed the positive effects of this drug in the first paragraph. For the most part, they seem to be right up the drug abusers alley.
Has anyone put the word out, though, that the ill-effects greatly outnumber them?
Short-term negative effects
Some of these effects coincide with the “high,” others appear after the fact.
- muscle tension
- jaw clenching or teeth grinding
- hyperactivity or restlessness
- raised body temperature
- increased heart rate
- increased blood pressure
- muscle pain
- blurred vision
- lack of focus
Long-term negative effects
Chronic use of ecstasy is associated with the following effects. These side effects can occur when you’re not under the influence of the drug, by the way.
- memory impairment
- problems making decisions
- increased impulsivity or lack of self-control
- panic attacks
- severe depression
- paranoia and hallucinations
- psychotic episodes
- tooth damage
- circulatory problems
- neurological lesions
That’s a sobering list.
In fact, if one were to weigh this list against the three to six hours users experience the positive effects of ecstasy, we have to wonder if a larger margin of people would just say no thanks.
To date, there are no studies that show the drug is addictive. However, those that continue to use the drug after experiencing this vast list of ill-effects, may be inclined to differ. Because conversely, there’s a fine line between drug misuse and addiction.
Nothing to rave about
Ecstasy became a popular party drug in the late 1970s that reached its peak around the turn of the century. Nonetheless, it is still a drug many people abuse in today’s drug culture.
The list of negative effects more than doubles the positive ones that drug users seek. Statistics show that, overall, this drug is decreasing in popularity. This is especially true for teenagers.
In light of that fact, we must keep on keeping on.
- Continued education on the ill effects of illicit drug use makes a difference.
- Witnessing the effect drug abuse has on family members and friends makes a difference.
- Letting someone know that you care about them and support them makes a difference.
If you have an employee that tests positive for ecstasy or any drug, odds are that company policy calls for termination.
Do you also provide a ray of hope by providing resources for the employee to seek help? If failing an employee drug test is the rock bottom moment for someone, the world crashes in pretty hard.
However, the hope of a drug-free future can start them on the path from darkness to light.
We’ll keep hoping, as their employer, you’re hoping for that.