Drug testing has become quite common in the workplace and depending on your job, you may be required to take a couple of drug screens annually. Some employers want to make sure that their employees aren’t taking any mind-altering substances that may affect their performance at work. Unfortunately, this may mean that positive test results may put many cannabis users under strain and even affect new job opportunities.
Whether you use weed recreationally or for medical purposes, drug tests at work may be an unpleasant experience that might leave you feeling misunderstood. So, what can you do if you have an upcoming drug test? Given enough time, yes, you can detox your body the natural way, but when you only have a couple of weeks, you’ll want to speed up the detoxification process.
Let’s discuss a little about marijuana drug tests, and talk about some ways you can prepare for your drug screening beforehand so you can increase the chances of passing the test.
What Do Drug Tests Look For?
Drug tests typically look for THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) metabolites in your body. THC is the psychoactive cannabinoid in marijuana that gets you high. Metabolites are THC byproducts that are released in the liver as your body starts degrading the weed components. Most drug tests will usually look for the THC-COOH metabolite.
Different types of drug tests register this metabolite at different cutoff levels, so sometimes even if you have THC in your system, it may remain undetectable if it’s below the threshold. Urine tests are the most commonly used drug tests and they detect THC metabolites at 50 ng/mL (nanograms per milliliter). Anything at or above this level will cause you to test positive.
Types of Drug Tests
There are more than one ways to look for THC byproducts in your system. The three most commonly used types of drug tests by employers are urinalysis, blood tests, and hair tests.
- Urinalysis – the most widely used drug tests because they’re pretty accurate and very simple. Additionally, they’re pretty affordable and faster compared to other types of tests. Pee tests detect THC metabolites in the urine sample;
- Blood tests – not very common, but can be used by some employers. They detect THC in your blood, but if you’re a very casual user, they may not be able to detect THC for several hours after use. But for chronic weed users, THC will definitely remain in the bloodstream for longer;
- Hair tests – rarely used by employers, but these are the most accurate drug tests by far. Since THC metabolites are deposited in hair follicles, they can remain detectable for up to several months.
How Long Does THC Stay in Your System?
THC is a little stubborn. Being fat-soluble, it binds to the fat cells in the organism and dwells there until the body naturally flushes it out with time. In long-time or heavy users, THC accumulates and it needs a longer period of time to be processed and flushed out.
However, there are many other variables that determine how long THC will stay in your system. This will vary from person to person, but you should know that the half-life of THC byproducts is one week. This means that 50% of the THC metabolites will be eliminated from the body within a week, and so on. So for occasional smokers, this may mean THC dropping below detectable levels, while for heavy smokers one week may not make much of a difference.
How long THC will stay can also depend on the body’s own metabolism. Even though people with higher body fat percentages are technically more likely to store THC metabolites in their lipid cells because THC is fat-soluble, some people’s metabolism is naturally high, so this won’t apply to them. And the vice-versa is also true – it all depends on how your body will process it.
What’s also important is the strain you use and the frequency of drug use. If you use weed strains that are high in THC and/or are a regular user, whether for medical or recreational purposes, THC will take more time to be flushed out of your system because it has settled in there nicely over time.
How to Prepare for a Urine Drug Test
The best way is to stop taking weed and do everything you can to detoxify THC or get it to below detectable levels. The first step to the process would be to stop consuming cannabis and cannabis products. Then, you can move on to the following:
Water, The Obvious One
We’re sure you’re tired of hearing this, but if you’re one of those who aren’t into drinking water on a daily basis, then you should definitely start before an upcoming drug test. Peeing frequently may be tedious, but it’ll help. Now, you don’t have to drink a lot of water – between 2-3 liters would be enough. Overly diluted urine, though, is just as suspicious, so don’t go overboard.
Diuretics Speed Up the Flushing Out
This is somewhat connected to the previous tip, but drinking coffee and caffeinated tea, like green tea or even cranberry juice, will help eliminate the water from your metabolism quicker by making you pee more often. Additionally, green tea has some antioxidants that may aid the process. Again, stick to moderate amounts of caffeinated beverages as those coffee jitters can be really uncomfortable.
Vitamin B for Color
If you find your urine has gone a little pale, try taking B-vitamins to add some color. Vitamins B2 and B12 are known to add color back in urine when it’s pale due to dilution, so a few hours before the test, you can take 50-100 mg.
Take Creatine Supplements
Creatinine is naturally excreted in the body as the chemical waste of creatine phosphate produced by the muscles, and it’s flushed out in the urine. Therefore, to slightly alter the components in your urine, you can take some creatine supplements, about three hours before your test. You can find creatine supplements in any health food store.
Lemon Juice Could Also Help
Lemon juice is not only good for speeding up the metabolic rate of your body, but it’s also great for detoxing. Lemons contain not only vitamin C, which is an antioxidant, but also valuable electrolytes that can help to boost the creatinine levels in your urine sample and aid with the THC detox process.
Lay Off Exercising
It may sound counter-intuitive, but exercising is actually known to release the THC metabolites back into the body because exercising breaks down the fat cells, and THC is stored in the fat cells. Makes sense, right? So, if you have 2-3 weeks before your test, it’s okay to exercise and aid the detox process, but make sure to stop exercising at least 2 days before the test.
Try Detox Drinks
Finally, there are a lot of detox kits and detox drinks on the market. They may sound mystical, but the idea behind them is to dilute the urine, similar to what we already discussed. They are pre-prepared detox product kits with different components, like vitamin B and creatine to color the urine and mask any irregularities.
Some people swear by them, while others have not had much success. The upside of detox kits is that all supplements have been pre-measured and you’ll know you’ll be ingesting the right amount.
Drug tests are a nuisance, but when it’s mandatory, it has to be done. This may be harder for regular weed users than occasional ones as THC tends to accumulate in the body with time. However, there are various ways to flush it out of the system and at least get it to non-detectable levels starting with drinking plenty of water and abstaining from weed.