How long does weed stay in your system? The answer depends on a variety of factors, including how often you use cannabis, the method of consumption and your physical composition (how much you weigh and how tall you are). While many states have legalized THC for medical and recreational use, it could still cost you an employment opportunity at a workplace that doesn’t tolerate marijuana. If you find yourself in a situation where you’re searching phrases like “does water flush out THC,” you’ve come to the right place for answers to your questions about how long weed stays in your system.
What Factors Affect How Long Weed Stays in Your System?
First, you need to consider how often you use cannabis. If you’re a regular user, the drug can stay in your system for up to 90 days. If you’ve only taken THC occasionally, it’s probably out of your system within a week.
The type of test also influences the length of time that THC remains detectable. Typically, drug tests look for the presence of a molecule called THC-COOH. Most employers use urine tests, which show THC ingested within the last 24 to 72 hours. Saliva tests detect cannabis use within the past few hours up to 48 hours. Hair tests can show whether someone has used marijuana within the past 3 months.
Why Would You Need to Remove THC Quickly?
Even if you live in a state where cannabis has been legalized, you may need to pass a THC screening for jobs in certain industries, such as transportation. In fact, the Society for Human Resource Management reports that 57% of employers still drug test their employees, and 69% of those businesses have been screening potential hires for substances like cannabis for more than a dozen years.
If you’re a young adult, you may have school or sports obligations that require a clean test. Perhaps you just want a fresh start and you want to remove THC or other toxins from your system before you quit smoking, vaping or ingesting weed. Cannabis can negatively impact your life, even when it’s legal in your state. Some of the well-documented effects of THC abuse include:
- Challenges at work or school. You simply can’t perform up to your best ability if you’re usually high. You might also start missing school and work due to the impacts of cannabis on your life, which further affects performance.
- Relationship struggles. This can include conflicts with family, friends, partners and loved ones. Often, overuse of marijuana results in loss of interest in the activities you used to enjoy.
- Financial difficulties. Cannabis can take a big chunk out of your budget, especially if you chronically partake in the plant. If you lose your job or run into other money issues, you could be in a world of trouble.
- Association with other bad habits. For example, you may tend to drink alcohol, use tobacco, gamble or participate in other risky behavior when you’re high on THC.
Does Flushing THC Really Work?
When it comes to detoxing from marijuana, myths about what works aren’t necessarily the best ways to get THC out of the system. You probably won’t see the results you’re looking for from a cranberry juice detox. Although drinking enough cranberry juice could help dilute your urine enough to pass that type of test, it won’t be any help if you need to pass a hair or saliva test. Over-the-counter detox teas, weed detox kits and products advertising a same-day detox don’t guarantee a clean drug test. These products aren’t regulated and won’t necessarily do what they say, especially if you need to pass a test quickly.
On the other hand, consider these tried-and-true techniques for flushing THC from the body:
- Physical activity. Exercise helps remove the substance from where it’s stored in your fat cells while increasing the body’s ability to produce natural endocannabinoids to regulate mood.
- Balanced nutrition including lots of veggies. Greens like kale and spinach increase metabolism, which supports the natural detox process. Healthy fibers like beans, legumes and whole grains benefit the body as it flushes free of THC while helping to stabilize the mood.
- Herbal tea. Milk thistle and dandelion varieties help the liver detox the body, an essential part of removing residual cannabis. Green tea contains antioxidants, which also support the immune system in fighting off toxins.
- Discontinued use of the drug at least 30 days before your test. You’ll need to allow at least 90 days before you get a clean screen if you’re a daily cannabis user, so it helps to plan ahead.
- Moderate fluid intake. Aim for about eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day, and avoid sugary beverages like soda and juice.
- Relaxation techniques to balance the mood and reduce stress. Examples include yoga, meditation and breathing exercises.
Some strategies for flushing THC can harm your health. Don’t try to detox by using:
- High doses of niacin. This can cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, cramps and other unwanted symptoms.
- Gallons of water ingested over a short period of time (24 hours, for example). This method can lead to hyponatremia, and low blood sodium levels that can be life-threatening.
- Apple cider vinegar detox. Like excessive water intake, drinking vinegar causes hyponatremia.
People may try to pass drug tests by adding cleaning fluid to their urine or even using synthetic urine. Most modern drug tests are designed to detect these attempts, and you could immediately fail or at minimum have to take the test again. In fact, even drinking too much water can result in the need to retest.
There Is Help For Weed Dependence
Marijuana may be legal in many places, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it has a positive effect on your life. The fact is, cannabis can cause both physical and mental dependence that can have a serious impact on your ability to function. If you’re interested in learning more about abstaining from cannabis, FHE Health can help. Reach out today to talk to one of our professional counselors about your THC use if you feel overwhelmed by this common substance.