Weed, or marijuana, is a drug derived from the cannabis plant that can be smoked, eaten, or vaped. Due to its tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) contents, it has mind-altering effects.
Much like other addictive substances, using weed for a prolonged period can increase the likelihood of addiction.
When an addiction to weed arises, withdrawal symptoms usually occur when you stop using it. While marijuana withdrawal doesn’t necessarily induce some of the dangers of withdrawing from other drugs, such as heroin or fentanyl, symptoms may arise when trying to give up the drug.
One of the most widely used illicit drugs in the United States, marijuana can be smoked via rolled cigarettes, joints, and pipes. Vaporizers are also commonly used among some users as they reduce the amount of smoke inhaled when smoking the substance.
In addition to smoking weed, some people consume it by baking it into cookies or brownies or infusing it into a drink.
Regardless of how weed is ingested, when THC enters the bloodstream, it travels to the brain, causing users to feel some of the many short-term and long-term effects.
THC processes from the lungs into the bloodstream when you smoke weed. From here, it then makes its way through the body to the brain and other organs. Generally, the effects of weed are felt between 30 minutes and one hour after use and can last for a few hours at a time. When eaten, weed absorbs at a slower rate.
When THC reaches the brain, it stimulates brain cell receptors which react to naturally occurring chemicals in the body. These chemicals have similar properties to THC and can impact brain development and function.
When you use marijuana, the part of the brain that contains the most concentrated level of these receptors over-activate, causing you to feel stoned or high.
In addition to feeling high, some short-term effects of weed include:
When large quantities of weed are consumed, you may experience hallucinations and, in some cases, psychosis.
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Marijuana affects brain development. If people start using weed when the brain is still developing, the effects may impact cognition, memory, and learning abilities. Weed can also affect how the brain communicates between these areas.
Although we know that weed can impair brain development, it is not fully understood how long the effects of cannabis may last or whether they create permanent changes in the brain.
To determine the long-term effects of weed, the National Institute of Drug Abuse is conducting a study surrounding adolescent brain cognitive development. This study will examine many young Americans from childhood to early adulthood to understand how and to what extent marijuana, and other drugs, affect brain development.
Although researchers are still trying to uncover if long-term damage is caused by marijuana, examples of lowered intelligence quotient (IQ) levels in adults who have been using weed since they were young have been noted.
HC can remain in the body for days or even weeks after weed use. However, the length it stays in your system depends on some variable factors.
Essentially, the length of time THC stays in the body depends on the following:
As THC is lipid-soluble, it binds to fat cells in the body, increasing the amount of time it takes to leave the body.
A range of drug tests can detect THC in the body. These tests include:
Although most drug tests are reliable, they can only usually detect weed for a certain length of time. Lab tests are the most reliable forms of drug testing.
More recently, misleading information surrounding detox methods and how to test negative on a drug test has been published online. For example, detox drinks are touted for flushing THC out of the body a few hours after consumption. However, there is no medical evidence to back this up.
THC detox kits are also marketed as ways to pass a drug test. These home remedies, which are sold under the guise of a 'THC detox kit,' claim that they can rid the body of toxins, including THC, in the space of 60 minutes, stating, "In less than an hour, it will cleanse all traces of THC from any blood test, urine test, and saliva test."
Cranberry juice, lemon juice, and apple cider vinegar are other home remedies that claim to rid the body of toxins. While they have health-giving properties, there is no proof that they can help people pass drug tests.
These quick-fix THC detox solutions are not in any way scientifically proven. However, they continue to encourage users to believe there is a quick alternative to a proper detox process.
If you're worried about an impending drug test, it may be the time to assess the impact your drug use has on your life.
Several things influence whether a test can detect THC traces, such as:
The more sensitive the drug test, the higher the chances of detecting low doses of marijuana. This is true for all types of drug tests, including blood tests, urine tests, hair tests, and saliva tests.
Marijuana drug tests detect THC rather than marijuana itself. Therefore, the quantity of THC in a person's body is a crucial factor.
As the effects of THC are cumulative, a person who smokes several times over several days and consumes higher doses of THC is more likely to test positive than someone who smokes the drug once.
The strength of THC is also relevant. It is challenging to determine the strength of the marijuana; therefore, it can be difficult to distinguish what levels of THC an individual consumes.
Fat cells store marijuana. As a result, people with higher concentrations of fat are thought to process marijuana more slowly than those with less fat.
Usually, women have more body fat than men. For this reason, they are thought to metabolize marijuana at a slower rate than men.
Dehydration increases the level of THC stored in the body. Although consuming lots of water is unlikely to affect a drug test, dehydration could have a significant effect.
Exercising won't affect how an individual metabolizes THC. However, exercising directly before a drug test may have an impact.
A study of regular marijuana users who participated in cycling before a drug test found that THC concentrations increased by a significant amount. These results indicate that exercising immediately before a drug test might increase the likelihood of a positive test.
THC tends to leave the body quicker if an individual has a fast metabolism. As a result, those with slow metabolisms are more likely to test positive following a drug test.
The side effects of weed are physical and psychological. Physical symptoms can include:
Psychological symptoms of marijuana use include:
Although using weed is not advised if a woman is pregnant, many women, unfortunately, do use the drug. Sadly, marijuana use among pregnant women has been linked to low birth weight and brain and behavioral problems in babies.
In addition, it is possible to overdose on marijuana. Though fatal overdosing has never been reported, people who use too much of the drug may experience extreme symptoms, such as paranoia and hallucinations.
Users of marijuana can also develop a substance use disorder. When a substance use disorder impairs a person's life, they continue using the drug despite the negative implications on their health and well-being.
When a person develops a substance use disorder and attempts to stop using weed, they may experience side effects such as:
THC detox varies significantly between users. If you occasionally use low amounts of the drug, stopping without support may be possible.
However, if you have built up a tolerance to the drug and use it very regularly, you may need more support to quit using. When support is sought via a rehab center such as our own, treatment includes weed detox.
Although detoxing from weed is rarely harmful, it is common to experience some withdrawal symptoms. Some of these symptoms include:
Currently, medical treatments for drug detox are non-existent. However, many detox programs, such as our own, can treat withdrawal symptoms and provide much-needed support during the process.
Some successful support methods incorporate individual therapy and motivational incentives, including providing people who remain cannabis-free with something pleasurable.
Although there are no medications currently approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for weed withdrawal, other medications effectively alleviate withdrawal symptoms.
Whether an individual chooses an inpatient or outpatient detox option, these medications can include anti-nausea tablets or pain relief for headaches.
Doctors may suggest gradually tapering off weed to decrease withdrawal symptoms instead of suddenly stopping.
Detoxing from any drug is physically and emotionally challenging. However, with appropriate help and support, long-term recovery is possible.
During detox, it is generally helpful to have a variety of supportive measures in place. These techniques include:
After detoxing from weed, joining a support community such as Marijuana Anonymous can be beneficial. These groups can offer long-term support in the days, weeks, and months following the initial detox. Being part of a supportive, non-judgmental community will also help you remain on the right path and maintain sobriety.
If you decide to detox alone without medical support, it's crucial to create a healthy and safe living environment and be mindful of what triggers might arise that could lead you to use again. Getting rid of any marijuana paraphernalia, avoiding people and places associated with using the drug, and being mindful of mental and physical health can be the key to a successful detox.
Although some people manage to detox successfully alone and stay sober, a medically supervised detox is advised for individuals living with co-occurring disorders. This can include addictions to other substances, such as benzodiazepines or alcohol, or mental health conditions, all of which can exacerbate withdrawal symptoms.
At NPAC, we provide inpatient drug detox. If you are struggling with an addiction to weed or any other drug, contact us today to learn how we can support you in securing a lifelong recovery.
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