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How Long Does Marijuana stay in your system?

Authored by Granite Recovery Centers    Reviewed by James Gamache    Last Updated: December 9th, 2021


James Gamache Medical Reviewer
Jim is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) and Licensed Masters Level Addictions Counselor (MLADC). He has been working in the field of mental health/addiction treatment since 1995. Jim earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services from Springfield College in 2000, and a Masters Degree in Social Work from Boston University in 2002. In 2002 Jim was hired by the Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester holding the position of Clinical Case Manager. From 2004-2019, Jim was employed at WestBridge Inc. During his time at WestBridge, Jim held the following positions; Clinician, Team Leader, Director, & Chief Operations Officer. In 2019 Jim transitioned employment to GateHouse Treatment Center as the Clinical Director for 10 months. In October of 2020 Jim transitioned to Granite Recovery Centers and is currently serving as the Senior VP of Clinical Services and Quality Assurance.

Marijuana is one of the most commonly used psychotropic drugs in the nation. It is even legal in many states. Individuals often wonder if there are any clear negative side effects and how long it can stay in their system. Whether you struggle with cannabis use yourself or if you are trying to help a loved one who struggles with it, it’s important to be informed about what effects marijuana addiction has on your system and your overall health.

Why Is Marijuana Used?

Recreational marijuana use has been common in the U.S. since the early 1900s. Simply put, many people use marijuana because they like the effects that marijuana has on their bodies. Being able to achieve a euphoric feeling is a deep desire for many anxious and stressed-out people. Also, because using marijuana is so common, there isn’t as much of a stigma of “drug use” attached to marijuana. Smoking pot, like drinking, is often seen as no big deal.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency states that marijuana has been classified as a Schedule I drug, which means it has no accepted medical benefit and is likely to make people addicted. Chasing the high of marijuana is an ongoing process. A person will attempt to reach the same high they got the first time. More research needs to be done on this type of addiction to understand all of its effects. However, it is clear that there are some serious consequences of marijuana addiction.

How Long Does Marijuana Stay in Your System?

If you are wondering how long marijuana stays in your system, you must remember that it largely depends on what type of screening an employer or law enforcement official wants to administer. Healthline reports that marijuana is detectable in the blood, urine, and saliva for one to 30 days, and how long it stays in the system depends on the frequency of use and dosage.

This means that marijuana can stay in the saliva for a few days after smoking. But it can be a constant presence in the system of daily smokers. Medical News Today reports that it can be detected for three days in first-time users, five to seven days for people who use it a few times a week, and a month or longer for people who smoke at least once a day. This is because regular marijuana users have typically higher concentrations of THC in their system than infrequent users.

This causes additional complications because it can stay in the system for weeks. For example, someone who smoked marijuana two or three weeks ago may still have it in their system, even though they feel they have cut back. When usage starts again, THC levels rise higher. From a medical point of view, it simply looks like the person had consistent THC levels the whole time.

Therefore, cutting back for a few days or weeks only means it is still there to build up in the person’s system again if the person continues to smoke. It also means they can test positive for the drug — even if they haven’t smoked recently. Don’t allow a marijuana addiction to make you or a loved one miss out on opportunities.

Short- and Long-Term Effects on the System

Marijuana has both short-term and long-term effects on your system. Many people who use cannabis enjoy the positive effects but experience difficulties when the negative effects of using it strike. Marijuana is an addictive substance, and using it over a period of time can have adverse effects on your memory, coordination, and ability to learn. You may also feel “couch-locked,” meaning that you’re too impaired to get up and do things.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that some more serious effects include breathing issues, rapid heart rate, severe nausea, light-headedness, hallucinations, paranoia, and even abnormal pregnancies. Marijuana smoke contains many toxic chemicals. Smoking the drug is known to irritate the lungs and cause issues for those with asthma and allergies. Your lungs and heart are an important part of a healthy immune system. You don’t want to damage your system.

In addition, NIDA also states that long-term addiction to marijuana can cause cognitive deficits, a general lack of motivation, and low self-esteem. This type of mental fogginess, forgetfulness, and lack of speed and proficiency are serious consequences to your brain and the rest of your system. NBC News reports that chronic pot use contributes to depression and other negative effects on the brain, and these effects can continue as long as the person uses marijuana.

If you want to attend work, spend sober time out with friends, or handle daily affairs, smoking marijuana can hinder your progress. Many habitual smokers complain about the lack of goals and the drive to fulfill them. In addition, frequent use can make a marijuana addiction more of a threat to general health and wellness. A balanced body and a healthy mind are a must to thrive in the world.

The Strength of the Effects on the Body

The severity and prevalence of marijuana’s effects on your system depend on your unique DNA and how long you take the drug. People who smoke marijuana more frequently over a period of time will experience greater effects on their body’s systems than those who do not. If you or someone you care about uses marijuana on a frequent basis, you should try addiction treatment.

The Mayo Clinic reports that a lot of research is currently being done into the drug, and it’s being looked at as a potential treatment for certain diseases. However, researchers at the Mayo Clinic also warn that those who use marijuana who do not have any other health issues may be exposing themselves to greater negative consequences of drug dependency.

How to Overcome a Marijuana Addiction

It can be very difficult to overcome a marijuana addiction that has gone on for some time. Another study by NIDA reports that 9% of people who have smoked marijuana become addicted to it, and this number jumps to 17% if the person started using in their teens. It is commonly called “the gateway drug” because many people use marijuana first and then move on to using other drugs. Many marijuana users will pick up and put down the habit over and over, never fully recovering from substance use. Recovering from substance use is possible when the person decides to fight the marijuana addiction long enough to purge it. Then, the system can start showing lower THC levels until it disappears altogether. Unfortunately, this is far easier said than done if the addiction is strong.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that if marijuana is used in combination with other drugs like alcohol and prescription drugs, it increases mental and physical impairment, raises exposure to toxic chemicals, and causes greater risks of damage to the heart and lungs. Adding more addictive substances in the mix only makes it harder to break the chain.

As a result, people of all backgrounds and ages may require more powerful, professional help to overcome a chronic marijuana addiction. To be able to fix a marijuana addiction for good, you have to make a solid commitment and have a treatment plan that includes mental health therapy, like the one that we offer at Granite Recovery Centers. In our mental health program, we offer three levels of treatment that are customized for the unique needs of the client. Some parts of the program may include cognitive behavioral therapy, group workshops, and meditation.

Seeking Treatment for Marijuana Addiction

The last thing someone with an addiction wants to do is admit they need help. Treatment for them might seem like the last thing they want to do. Here are some things you can do to help:

  • Offer encouragement and resources
  • Take steps to hold them accountable
  • Help them get the proper treatment

If you’ve never had an addiction, it can be hard to understand or empathize with someone who has one. Try not to judge or make assumptions about their situation because it is impossible to fully know what they are going through.  Alternatively, don’t turn a blind eye to signs that are indicative of more addictive, destructive behavior. Approach your friend or relative with caution. Ask them questions about their behavior and what you can do to help.

Offer support for their efforts, but don’t coerce anyone into taking action. If they are not ready and committed to treatment, they will not be successful. Give them some resources to get started, like a list of phone numbers to call for help. Do some research into our addiction treatments, and talk about it with them. Remember that addiction is a disease that causes people to continually make bad choices. Don’t put them down for their decisions or criticize them during their battle. Remember to offer love and support.

Getting Addiction Treatment

Hoping that the addiction will go away on its own is no way to win the fight. If you want to avoid marijuana and its consequences, then you may need to sign up for addiction treatment. Struggling to do it on your own is an easy way to wear yourself out. There is nothing wrong with reaching out for addiction treatment to help change circumstances for good. You or someone you care about can receive inpatient or outpatient treatment from us for chemical dependency that actually works.

Granite Recovery Centers offers the 12-step program for our outpatient clients, and it includes group and one-on-one therapy, 12-step meetings, and skill-building sessions for an addiction-free life. Not only does the proper treatment help you to gain control, but you can learn techniques to stop using marijuana. Additionally, you will restore your mental, physical, and spiritual health.

It is difficult for anyone to get through addiction alone, and it is natural to seek help. Marijuana addiction can sneak up on anyone’s life after a few puffs of smoke. Such an addiction is often connected to a wide variety of personal issues. If you or someone else is looking for help with marijuana addiction, Granite Recovery Centers is here to help. We offer a variety of specialized addiction treatments. We understand that healing from any kind of addiction does not happen overnight. Here at GRC we take pride in assisting people in the recovery process. For more information on how to overcome a marijuana addiction with our treatment services, please contact us today.

At Granite Recovery Centers, we want to provide accurate information about health and addiction so that our readers can make informed decisions.

We have credentialed medical doctors & clinicians who specialize in addiction treatment review the information on our website before it is published. We use credible sources such as government websites and journal articles when citing statistics or other medically related topics.