How to detox from THC
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- What is detoxification?
- How long does it take to detox from THC?
- Does exercise help to detox from THC?
- Do detox drinks remove THC from the body?
- Do THC detox kits really work?
- How can I use marijuana and still pass a drug test?
- What is the best way to detox from THC?
- The bottom line on weed detoxing
If you’ve just been hired for a new job and need to pass a drug test, you might be wondering how marijuana can affect the results. Especially if you have recently smoked a cannabis strain high in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) , there is a possibility that the drug test will reveal the psychoactive cannabinoid in your system. The cannabinoid may be detectable in urine, blood, or even hair, though employers are unlikely to sample the latter in drug screenings.
Are there effective ways to remove THC from the body before taking a drug test? In this guide to detoxing from THC, we’ll examine the facts and myths about cannabis and drug testing.
What is detoxification?
Detoxification is the removal of a toxic substance from the body or waiting for a drug to clear the bloodstream on its own. In general, it is healthier and safer to allow the THC from marijuana to leave the body unassisted, as opposed to toxic drugs such as cocaine or heroin for which there are medications to facilitate detoxification.
How long does it take to detox from THC?
The psychoactive effects of THC may last fewer than two hours, but the compound can remain in the body for a significant amount of time — 30 days or longer by most accounts. This lengthy residence in the body makes detoxing from THC a challenge, but let’s consider the most common methods used to manipulate THC levels and eliminate cannabis products from the body.
The psychoactive effects of THC may last fewer than two hours, but the compound can remain in the body for a significant amount of time. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Does exercise help to detox from THC?
If you have ever practiced hot yoga, you have probably heard your instructors talking about sweating out toxins from the body. While this notion is debatable, can vigorous exercise and breaking a sweat cause THC to leave the body through the pores?
Dr. Adie Poe, assistant scientist at the Legacy Research Institute in Portland, Oregon, and scientific adviser to Weedmaps, weighed in: “Exercise can release stored THC from adipose (fat) tissue. Theoretically, exercise might help to speed up the detox process, but perhaps only marginally (28 days instead of 30). There is no scientific evidence showing that exercising can speed up the detox process and help you pass a drug test sooner than you would have without exercise.”
In terms of body fat, leaner individuals are less likely to store THC metabolites due to a faster metabolism. However, a person of any bodyweight may still show traces of the cannabinoid in blood and/or urine, especially if using marijuana on a daily or frequent basis.
Do detox drinks remove THC from the body?
Detox drinks such as cranberry juice or green tea may seem like good solutions to flush THC out of your system, but can they literally remove the cannabinoid? Not exactly.
Rather, Dr. Poe explained, “When it comes to passing a drug screen, ‘detox drinks’ don’t actually remove THC from the body or urine. Instead, they trick the laboratory test by artificially loading up the urine sample with vitamins and proteins like creatinine. it’s like adding sugar to coffee. Adding sugar doesn’t change the amount of bitter compounds in your cup, it just masks them, tricking your brain into thinking it’s less bitter.”
In other words, the THC may still be present in the body, but it is possible for the compound not to register on a toxicology report. Therefore, drinking hydrating beverages such as herbal tea and purified water will probably not rid your system of marijuana. Still, increasing your fluid intake can be beneficial to your general health, which is often not the case for unregulated products such as detox pills and kits.
Do THC detox kits really work?
A detox kit may also seem like a quick fix to cleanse your system of THC, but these methods may be even less reliable than detoxing with fluids. First, THC detox kits are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which means that they could be more harmful than helpful. While it could be possible to fool a drug test with a kit, it may not be worth risking your well-being for a product of questionable origin and safety.
How can I use marijuana and still pass a drug test?
If you want to enjoy cannabis but don’t want any evidence of the plant to appear in a blood or urine sample, you have other options to consider. CBD products such as oils and tinctures contain only trace levels of THC and may be ingested on their own or prepared in recipes for tasty edibles.
CBD products such as oils and tinctures contain only trace levels of THC. (Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps) Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Another option is to smoke marijuana strains that have low levels of THC. Popular cannabis strains with less than 15% THC content include Charlotte’s Web, Harlequin, and ACDC. For even lower levels, try Ringo’s Gift which measures only around 7% and is a good choice for beginners as well.
What is the best way to detox from THC?
According to Dr. Poe, “the only way to truly ‘detox’ (remove the drug from the body) is to wait it out. The liver metabolizes THC, and its metabolites are further broken down, over time, until there are no more traces left. This process can take 30 days or more for a daily cannabis user.”
So, the best way to detox from THC may be simply to play the waiting game and allow enough time to pass for the cannabinoid to naturally exit your system. Sipping water, trying detox drinks, and practicing yoga may not speed up the process, but they can make you feel good and assist with any withdrawal symptoms you may be experiencing.
Likewise, home remedies like lemon juice and apple cider vinegar carry potential health benefits, but it’s a myth that they can strip your system of THC. These fluids may be able to mask marijuana in your bloodstream and urine, but this outcome is not predictable and depends on numerous factors including your body composition, frequency of cannabis consumption, and even the potency of the weed.
The bottom line on weed detoxing
As much as we all love a quick fix, abstaining from cannabis for 30 days or more may be the only way to guarantee that THC won’t show up on a drug test.
How to detox from THC Copy article link to clipboard. Link copied to clipboard. Contents What is detoxification? How long does it take to detox from THC? Does exercise
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Generally, they can’t help you “detox” in the traditional sense. You can’t skip the withdrawal process with one of these kits.
Types of Home Detox Kits on the Market
There are a few kinds of “detox kits” on the market. These are kits that purport to help people flush a particular drug out of their system. They usually take the form of drinks or pills.
While generally legal, the quality of these products is quite poorly regulated.
Most common by far, and one of the only groups of products that seem to have at least moderately positive user feedback, are products designed to cheat THC drug tests. Some take several days to work, while other more expensive products claim to work faster.
When these products are advertised as “detox kits,” they don’t mean “detox” in the true sense. They won’t help you rapidly go through withdrawal to clear your body of its physical dependence on a drug as some medical procedures try to. More or less, the goal of these kits is to cheat drug tests.
In some cases, there may be no good way to pass a drug test when you have a drug in your system, especially not safely and with products legally available to you online or at the pharmacy.
Trying to Beat a Drug Test
When discussing which products do and don’t work for beating drug tests, it is important to recognize that there has not been a great deal of research on the topic. Claims made by various products are rarely, if ever, tested by reliable sources.
Products that seem to show some successful outcomes are THC detox kits available for sale online. Some journalists at Vice performed a very rudimentary study, testing three THC cheating drinks. All three seemed to work, although it should be noted their test pool was a single subject using the products a single time (with one control test to make sure the risk of an error with the tests themselves was low).
Beyond this basic test, which only really shows that more research should be done on these products, it is difficult to make many positive claims about the products available to pass drug tests.
Drug detox kits often have unclear instructions, even when they do seem to work for users. Whether this is to protect against lawsuits (since they may be used in illegal ways even if not illegal themselves) or simply a result of poor regulations is difficult to say for certain.
The risks of these products parrot those of most unregulated products making medical claims. There is very little research into them and minimal oversight into what is actually in the products. At least one user seems to have experienced a multi-day psychotic break after using a THC detox kit.
Another notable risk of these tests is they might simply fail to work, with a consumer having little legal recourse. If you attempt to use them to subvert a drug test required by an employer or the state, you generally have tried to use the product to break the law. That said, you may still wish to research your local laws and talk to a lawyer if you feel you bought a product making fraudulent claims.
Detox kits and similar products need to be better regulated and better researched, but the medical community, lawmakers, and law enforcement seem to largely ignore them at this time unless they are immediately relevant to a given case.
What About Home Remedies for Detox?
Most people have heard the advice that people who are too intoxicated should drink coffee or take a cold shower. Neither of these will actually help someone to sober someone up.
In fact, putting someone who is very inebriated into a shower could be dangerous, and caffeine can have a negative effect on someone in this state as well.
Eating after drinking too much alcohol could potentially slow the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream. It’s better to eat before and during drinking than after one is too drunk, however.
If a person has taken too much of a drug or drank too much, some people may think they simply need to sleep it off. This is a dangerous approach for someone who has potentially overdosed. If a person is passed out and left in this state, they could suffocate if they roll over, or they could choke on their own vomit. This could lead to death.
If you suspect someone has overdosed on any substance, call 911 immediately. Overdose reversal medications are available for some drugs of abuse, such as naloxone to reverse an opioid overdose. If such a medication isn’t available, first responders will provide supportive care to mitigate the damage.
Once at a hospital, possible treatments for overdose include activated charcoal, stomach pumping, and IV fluids.
The best home remedy is to limit the amount of substances you put in your body. There is no proven home remedy that can help you sober up faster on your own. Time simply has to pass, as your body processes the drugs.
How Long Are Drugs Detectable in Your System?
The exact length of time drugs are detectable in your system tends to depend on how long you’ve been taking the drug and the size of the dose. You need to stop taking the drug before it will clear out of your system. In essence, taking the drug resets the detox clock.
While the following are only estimates, they can serve as a guideline for how long some common drugs will usually remain in your body:
- Urine: 1–10 days for casual to moderate use, 30 days for chronic use
- Hair: about 90 days
- Urine: 1–3 days
- Hair: about 90 days
- Urine: 1–3 days
- Hair: about 90 days
- Benzodiazepines (benzos)
- Urine: 3–7 days for therapeutic use, 30 days for chronic use
- Hair: difficult to determine
- Urine: 12–24 hours
- Hair: about 90 days
Notably, at least one opioid and several benzodiazepines can be hard to detect in a person. Different benzodiazepines require different sensitivities to detect with lab testing, but testing for one can sometimes then require a given test to ignore another.
Certain factors can influence how long drugs are detectable on a drug test. These factors include the following:
- Body mass
- Medical conditions
- Other substances in the system, including prescription drugs
- Hydration levels
Are You Trying to Get Through Withdrawal?
If you want to stop taking drugs, whether to beat addiction or simply because they are otherwise impacting your life, one of the first steps is to get through withdrawal.
Whether marijuana is truly addictive is often debated, and its withdrawal symptoms tend not to be severe. The other drugs mentioned above can be difficult to suddenly stop taking. As a result, it’s recommended that you first consult with a medical professional before you stop taking any drug you have been regularly using.
- Opioids: The severity of opioid withdrawal can vary depending on the drug you are quitting, but it usually is not life-threatening. At the same time, it can be very uncomfortable and painful, causing aches, agitation, insomnia, sweating, tearing, anxiety, and unusual yawning. Later, it may cause diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, cramping, goosebumps, and dilated pupils. This discomfort can last from a few days to a few weeks.Quitting opioids after sustained use is very difficult without seeking help at an addiction rehabilitation facility. It is usually in a person’s best interest to get help stopping use.Withdrawal may not be life-threatening, but it is difficult enough that most people struggle to go through it on their own. As a result, most people who attempt to detox from opioids on their own end up relapsing. A relapse after any period of sobriety could lead to overdose, as tolerance can drop relatively quickly. Opioid overdose can lead to death.
- Cocaine:Cocaine withdrawal can cause agitation, restlessness, fatigue, strange and unpleasant dreams, an increase in appetite, and (often most troublingly) depression.In severe cases, users may feel drawn to use the drug, and they may continue to experience depression caused by withdrawal for months after cessation. This can even result in suicidal thoughts, which warrant contacting a doctor immediately.
- Benzodiazepines:Benzodiazepine withdrawal can be unpredictable. Sometimes, it can happen quickly after cessation of use, and other times, it comes after weeks of minimal symptoms. Symptoms can include muscle pain, nausea and dry retching, weight loss, stiffness, anxiety, perceptual changes, and more. In severe cases, it has been known to cause seizures and/or a psychotic break, and these severe cases can be life-threatening.When looking to quit benzodiazepines, you should absolutely talk to a medical professional. The best approach to quitting is usually to gradually reduce your dose in a way best determined by a doctor. In some cases, it can be life-threatening to quit benzodiazepines suddenly, so never stop use without consulting a medical professional.
- Alcohol:Alcohol withdrawal is a notoriously difficult process that can even be life-threatening if you were a heavy user of alcohol or suffer from certain health conditions. You may experience anxiety, nausea and vomiting, insomnia, sweating and more. In serious cases, you may even hallucinate.In some cases, it can take multiple days to fully go through withdrawal. In rare cases, alcohol withdrawal can lead to delirium tremens, which can be life-threatening.As a result, heavy and chronic drinkers should not stop drinking suddenly without professional assistance. Certain medications, such as long-acting benzodiazepines, are often given to stabilize individuals during alcohol withdrawal and to prevent certain withdrawal symptoms, such as seizures.
It is always a good idea to seek help at a qualified addiction treatment facility when you intend to go through withdrawal or otherwise quit a drug. Addiction treatment facilities and detox centers specialize in helping people quit drugs. They can offer appropriate medical assistance and psychological support during the detox process.
If you attempt to detox on your own at home with the use of a drug detox kit, you are at risk of potential medical complications. Again, there is a higher risk of relapse during detox if you don’t have professional support available.
The Next Phase of Recovery
In treatment, the exact methodology that’s right for you will depend on the severity of your addiction. Some people require intensive, long-term addiction treatment programs, whereas others may only require a lower level of treatment.
Regardless of the chosen form of treatment, the program should be tailored to each patient’s personal needs. Be wary of any program that offers a one-size-fits-all approach to recovery. This type of cookie-cutter approach is not likely to lead to sustained recovery.
Detox is only the first phase of addiction recovery. Just because drugs process out of your system, and your physical dependence on substances may be broken, it doesn’t mean you have recovered. Treatment must address the underlying issues that led you to abuse drugs in the first place. If these issues aren’t addressed, it’s highly likely that you will return to drug use.
Look for a treatment program that can facilitate the entire recovery process, transitioning you from detox to treatment to aftercare. This ensures you have support and guidance throughout the entire journey as you find your footing in newfound sobriety.
The Bottom Line
While drug detox kits make a lot of promises regarding their ability to help you pass a drug test, their claims aren’t verified. Since there is little regulation in this field, you may end up with a detox kit that doesn’t do what it claims to do. This means you have wasted your money. In the worst-case scenario, you may have an adverse reaction to ingredients in the kit.
Drug detox kits and home remedies make a lot of promises about their abilities to help you pass drug tests, but their claims don’t hold up.