Worried about a drug test after a weekend of relaxing with weed gummies and a bowl of nachos? We know how you feel.
Today, undergoing a drug test is as commonplace as filling out a job application in some fields. Even though random drug testing is discriminatory, frequently inaccurate, and isn’t a reliable method of reducing drug usage, workplace drug testing has increased by 277% since 1987.
Although drug tests are unfair and far from foolproof, it’s something we have to live with. Staying informed about how drug tests work is always the best method of protecting yourself. Knowledge is power and all that. So let’s take a look at the different kinds of drug tests and what you should expect when taking one.
Drug Test Types
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THC Drug Tests: The Quick and Dirty Deets
Drug tests don’t technically check for marijuana in your system they check for THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).
THC binds to fat in the body, so it takes much longer to break down than alcohol. The time window in which a drug test can detect THC varies widely.
Here’s a rough guide to keep in mind. Drug tests detect THC:
- In blood three to four hours after consumption
- In saliva between 24 and 72 hours after consumption
- In urine between three and 30 days after consumption
In theory, THC can still be detected in the hair up to 90 days after consumption. However, hair follicle drug tests are even less reliable since a false positive test through passive consumption is possible. (Don’t hang out with Snoop Dogg before having a drug test because that second-hand high can get you in trouble.)
What Factors Influence a Drug Test?
There’s no straightforward answer to what factors might influence a drug test because there are so many. A drug test result depends on the following:
The higher the concentration of body fat, the slower you typically break down THC.
Because women have a higher average body fat concentration, they tend to break down weed slightly slower than men. Thanks, science.
Everyone’s metabolism works at a slightly different pace. Some break down substances faster than others.
If you have smoked weed for the first time, this is usually only detectable for about three days. The more regularly you consume marijuana, the longer THC stays in your body.
The potency of marijuana is directly related to its THC content. The higher this content, the longer it can naturally be detected. A super high THC weed strain like Pineapple Express will remain more detectable than a low THC weed strain like Kaya ACDC.
Different Types of Drug Tests
Several kinds of drug tests check for weed, opiates, amphetamines, and other medications.
Weed drug tests usually require a urine sample. This is the most common method of determining if you’ve recently smoked weed. Drug tests can detect THC in urine for two to three days after smoking weed, but with regular cannabis use, the test can give positive results up to 30 days later.
Rapid Drug Test (Saliva Drug Test)
Rapid drug tests check body fluids such as sweat or saliva using test strips. During traffic stops, the police often use a rapid drug test that analyzes saliva or sweat for drug residues. First of all, gross. Second, rapid drug tests are super unreliable.
Hair Follicle Test
Drug tests on hair follicles find substances or drug metabolites in a hair sample. A drug metabolite is a chemical your body produces during the breakdown and elimination of a drug.
Hair follicle drug tests provide a longer detection window. Once in the hair, drug use can linger for weeks, months, or even years. Hair follicle drug testing can reveal drug exposure patterns but not present intoxication.
The detection window depends on how much hair is tested. Longer hair samples can be evaluated for drug exposure over a longer period, but a 1 ½ inch scalp sample provides information about 90 days of drug use. A slower-growing hair sample may have a 12-month detection window.
The THC hair follicle test is unreliable. Regular consumption is often overlooked. When using a shampoo with THC-like chemicals, false-positive findings can occur.
A blood test can find THC in the blood plasma for only about four to six hours after smoking weed, depending on how often you smoke and how much THC is in the cannabis.
The THC is no longer detectable about seven hours after smoking a low-dose bowl or joint. With a high-dose joint, it takes about 12 hours to reach the point where the blood test will no longer detect anything. Even if you haven’t smoked weed in a while, a blood test can still show that you are high if you toke up often.
Can I Pass My Drug Test If…
The age-old question we all want to know is: How can you speed up the breakdown of THC?
Cheating to pass a drug test isn’t really possible. Drinking a lot of water might accelerate the degradation of THC in your system, plus dehydration always increases the likelihood of a positive test. Drink lots of water, but not an insane amount.
Sports and other physical activities might give your metabolism a boost. But beware. Training or exercising immediately before testing can make THC easier to detect. Some small tests have confirmed the opposite, though, so don’t count on passing a drug test because you went for a run the day before.
At the end of the day, you just have to give your body time. THC should mostly be out of your system no later than 30 days after the last time you smoke weed and should no longer be detectable in a drug test.
Don’t Smoke Weed Before a Drug Test
The easiest, least stressful way to pass a drug test is to stop smoking weed for a while. Even when the intoxicating effect has long since worn off, THC is still detectable in the body.