Not everyone who uses marijuana recreationally wants it publicly known that they do. Some people are looking for employment and know that they must successfully pass a drug test so they can land a job. Others just may be interested in taking a tolerance break and minimize the effects of withdrawal as much as possible. Whatever the reason, some people will try different methods to clear any and all evidence of marijuana use.
Marijuana detox can take place either naturally over time after use has stopped or it can be kick-started with man-made products. Detoxing from a substance means ridding the body of the toxins that accumulate as a result of using a substance.
Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)is the main ingredient in marijuana that users want to rid the body of. Among the 500 chemicals found in marijuana, this is the one responsible for the drug’s mind-altering effects on the brain. It’s also the one drug tests look for.
According to The Mayo Clinic’s article on how long marijuana detox takes, THC can be traced up to three days after someone uses marijuana. If used moderately (four times a week) or heavily (every day), it can stay in the body anywhere from five to 10 days. Evidence of chronic heavy use can remain in the body for a month. These are general guidelines. Several factors affect how long it takes someone to detox from a substance, including:
How long a drug test can detect the presence of marijuana in one’s system also depends on what kind of drug test is used. There are four kinds of drug tests—saliva, blood, urine, and hair. The urine test is the most common kind of screening used. Generally, marijuana can be detected in:
Many users will try at-home detox methods to clear up their marijuana use. For milder marijuana detox symptoms, common at-home detox suggestions include:
However, according to the site Leafly.com, some quick fixes for marijuana detox are not only untrustworthy but they don’t work. These include drinking more water than normal, which can lead to a diluted drug test sample that will be rejected.
“Most ‘quick fix’ methods are based in myth and should not be trusted,” the site writes after listing cranberry juice, detox teas, vinegar, niacin detox, and bleach in addition to excessive water consumption as “faulty methods to avoid.” The site also advises users upfront that detoxing from marijuana isn’t a quick process. “No vitamin, juice, tea, or chemical will magically flush the body of cannabis overnight or in a short period of time,” it writes.
Another website, Herb.co, seems to agree with this viewpoint. It acknowledges that common shortcuts are taken to pass a urine test, such as synthetic urine, detox drinks, and detox pills. But it also writes, “Unfortunately, there is no surefire way to detox cannabis from your system in a hurry. The best way to get THC, the primary psychoactive in cannabis, out of your system is to simply abstain and wait.”
With that said, there will be people who want to speed up the detox period, so they seek other options, including THC detox kits and drinks.
There are customized detox products on the market that promise to clear the body of all traces of marijuana so the user can pass a drug test with ease. Some users will take powders or a certain number of herbal extracts and supplements at certain times of day as part of a THC detox. Some popular herbs used include dandelion root, rhubarb root, burdock root, and goldenseal root, which some say can be a dead giveaway that drug use is being masked if it turns up in a drug screen.
Another option is THC detox drinks.THC detox drinks promise to rapidly flush out the traces of marijuana in one’s system in a short time. It could be a week’s time, a period of 48 hours, or a 24-hour timeline. It depends on the product. These drinks also aim to clear the blood and urine of evidence of the drug. Some of these cleansing drinks come in the form of a tea. There are also products on the market that claim they can help people who have only 24 hours before they have to take a urine drug test. These drinks reportedly flush the body of toxins and cannabis metabolites temporarily.
They also aim to clear the urinary tract and bladder so users are in the clear to pass a test during a short window. The quick turnaround exists because the toxin metabolites that were stored in other parts of the body gradually make their way to the bladder, which means urine will eventually show evidence of use. Users have to take the drug test in that small amount of time that the urine is clear if they want to pass the test.
A THC detox kit may contain herbal supplements and drinks that are designed to be used on a specific schedule. MarijuanaBreak.com writes, “A significant proportion of the best THC detox kits contain fruit pectin, which is a type of fiber that’s normally used to add gelatinous qualities to jam and jelly. Fruit pectin is supposed to stop THC metabolites from passing into your urine, as it actually forces the cannabinoids out via your feces instead. Other common ingredients include red clover and yellow root, which act as diuretics and speed up your metabolism.”
With so many options available, some may wonder if THC detox kits actually work. There really is no single answer to that. Or perhaps the answer depends on the person who’s doing the detox. As Herb.co explains, “Many THC detox products don’t offer a single, simple solution without taking into account the broad range of factors that affect how our bodies store, process, and most importantly eliminate THC, THC-COOH, and other detectable metabolites.”
Some sources say they do work, but that depends on the person. They likely deliver different results for different people. Several sources reviewed all warn that detoxing from marijuana is not an exact science and that this makes detox a challenging experience.
According to Go Ask Alice, “most of these kits contain a mixture of compounds such as goldenseal, vinegar, niacin, or vitamin C, activated charcoal, lecithin, and herbal teas/powders.” The site also says, “Current research suggests that none of these compounds speed up the process of eliminating marijuana from the body.”
Heavy or longtime users who decide to detox likely will go through marijuana withdrawal symptoms that occur as the body adjusts to not having the drug in its system. During this process, which normally happens after regular drug use is stopped, users may experience increased irritability, anxiety, and restlessness as they stop using the substance. They also may notice sleepiness, appetite loss, weight loss, and cravings for marijuana. Marijuana withdrawal symptoms can occur within 24-28 hours after marijuana use is reduced or stopped.
Below is a general timeline of marijuana withdrawal.
During the first 24 to 72 hours of marijuana withdrawal, common symptoms include headaches and insomnia or chronic fatigue. A person may also have headaches, tremors, and concentration difficulties. Physical discomfort is typical as the brain attempts to adjust its equilibrium. Symptoms peak and are at their worse during the first three days. Eating habits may change and users may notice weight loss.
Symptoms become milder during the two-week withdrawal period. Those include dizziness, sweats, and mood swings. Marijuana cravings are common during this period as well as abdominal cramps, and chills. Vivid dreams or nightmares indicate more severe symptoms.
Post-acute withdrawal symptoms may persist during this time. Those include memory problems, mild depression, lack of motivation, and irritability.
The fact that there is a withdrawal period that follows a break in use indicates that marijuana can be addictive for some people. Marijuana’s effects do carry the potential of addiction for people who use it regularly and they can develop a physical and psychological dependence. However, they may not encounter any physical dependence or withdrawal symptoms but experience psychological changes.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse advises that there are no medications available to treat marijuana addiction or marijuana withdrawal.
People who choose to enter a professional drug treatment program, which begins with a medical detox, may find cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) helpful as they recover from marijuana use. This form of therapy can help people learn and apply skills and coping strategies that can help them identify and correct negative thoughts and behaviors that accompany chronic drug use. Behavioral therapy such as this can be effective, NIDA says.
Many marijuana users don’t just stop at marijuana. They mix other drugs with their cannabis. Polydrug use refers to the use of two or multiple types of drugs in order to reach a certain effect. Alcohol is commonly used with the drug as well as benzodiazepines, cocaine, and opioids. These drugs often are used to enhance the effects of marijuana. But using them together is dangerous and can be life-threatening. When alcohol and marijuana are in the bloodstream concurrently, this can cause the body to quickly absorb THC. This can result in users exhibiting:
As with alcohol, using marijuana and benzodiazepines together is a doubling up on depressants, which can cause excessive sedation, respiratory distress, loss of consciousness (coma), or death. It’s never a good idea to mix depressants and stimulants, but that’s what happens when pot users pair it with cocaine, meth or another “upper.” The effects of cocaine have reportedly start faster when someone is high on marijuana. Stimulant use also affects the heart. In one study, it was found that one can have a higher rate after taking cocaine or marijuana alone. Opioids can act as depressants as well. Using buprenorphine and cannabis together, for example, can result in oversedation.
If you or someone you know is co-using marijuana with other drugs, you may be building up tolerances to other substances, which could make detoxing from just marijuana difficult. Polysubstance use can lead to an addiction that can be hard to break on one’s own. Consider professional drug treatment that can help you address addictions to all substances and put you on the road to recovery. The process should start with a medical detox that is carried out by professionals who understand addiction and how to keep users in recovery safe.