First things first: MDMA is usually detectable in body fluids – blood, saliva and urine – for up to five days. So if you know you have a drug test coming up, it's safer to avoid using it during the previous week. However, like most drugs, it can also show up in a hair test for several months. Whether that’ll show up on a drug test? You can’t really say, generally, because there are so many different kinds.
Nick Hickmott, from drugs and alcohol charity Addaction, explains, "MDMA can show up on a drug test, but it depends on the test. Lots of drug tests can be inconsistent and unreliable – especially those used by employers. Some will check for specific substances like cocaine, while others will have a broader scope."
Can You Cheat the Tests?
If you know you have a drug test coming up and have still seen fit – in your infinite wisdom – to drop a pinger (you fucking clown), there are a few products out there that promise to help you beat it.
There are certain detoxifiers you can buy – either from your local head shop or online – that might allow you to pass a urine test. But they’re not very reliable. Drinking lots and lots of water can also help. The problem is, this strategy doesn’t always work: it’s usually obvious from the sparkling, preternatural cleanliness of the urine sample exactly what you’ve tried to do. Even if you pass, you risk looking so suspicious that your employers ask you for another sample.
Hair tests are even harder to cheat: it’s been suggested that soaking your locks in vinegar and salicylic acid could work, which sounds like a lovely – and ultimately pointless? – way to pass an evening. Or you could just pretend to have a meltdown on the day of the test and shave off all your hair.
How Likely Are You to Be Tested?
The good news is that, in the UK, it’s fairly unusual for your employers to demand a drug test (though according to the Trades Union Congress, aggressive marketing campaigns by American drug test companies may soon change this).
Currently, drug testing mostly happens in industries like transport or construction, where working under the influence would pose serious health and safety risks. In this instance, drug testing seems fair enough, rather than a nefarious attempt by bosses to ruin your fun. If you’ve been on a two-day bender, I’d recommend watching something frothy on Netflix or listening to Elliott Smith, rather than flying a plane or operating heavy machinery.
But your employers do have the right to ask you for a drug test, either before or during your employment. This has to be done with your express consent, but since – according to Practical Law – "the employer may make withholding consent a disciplinary matter", the word "consent" doesn’t really mean all that much.
Drug tests aren’t good at proving when you took a substance, which means that testing positive wouldn’t necessarily be evidence that you had been working while under the influence. However, it’s still possible you employer might infer this, which would almost certainly be classed as gross misconduct and could lead to your dismissal.
What Happens If You're Found Positive?
If you’re surprised with a random drug test and are convinced it will test positive, it might be a safer bet to simply refuse to take it. You could say you’re doing so on principle, or else invent a debilitating phobia of pissing in plastic pots. However, if you’re contractually obliged to submit to a test, refusal could still get you fired – so it would be a good idea to read your contract before taking a dramatic stand.
Anyway, not to sound like your mum, but there is one sure-fire, fail-safe, 100 percent effective way to pass a drug test – and that’s to bribe the person who's conducting it.
If you're going to use drugs, we believe you should be given the information to allow you to use them as safely as possible. To find that information, check out our Safe Sesh series.