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Cannabis and your body

Cannabis and your body

Discover how long cannabis stays in your system and how to manage unpleasant withdrawal symptoms from the therapists at Delamere wellness retreat.

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What does cannabis do to your body?

Derived from a plant with psychoactive properties, Cannabis has numerous physical and psychological effects on the body. On the one hand, it can weaken the immune system, irritate the lungs and affect brain development. On the other, it can be used medicinally to reduce pain and inflammation, lessen the symptoms of glaucoma and reduce nausea in people receiving cancer treatment.

Despite having some positive effects, when cannabis is abused in high doses it can cause a variety of behavioural and physiological changes and long-term use has been associated with a wide range of psychiatric disorders (1). Here, we discuss the impact cannabis taking can have on the human body, how long cannabis stays in your system and what to do if you experience withdrawal symptoms.

If you have built up a dependence on this recreational drug, Delamere has a team of holistic therapists who are experts in treating cannabis addiction at our wellness retreat in Cheshire. We can help you to overcome the uncomfortable process of cannabis withdrawal with a medical drug detox and non-judgemental support in restful surroundings.

If you think you may be addicted to cannabis or know someone who is, contact our team today and learn more about the different programmes we offer here at Delamere.

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This page has been reviewed by Dr Catherine Carney, Delamere’s psychiatrist
This page has been reviewed by Mike Delaney, Clinical Director at Delamere

How long does cannabis stay in your system?

Cannabis affects your body and brain differently depending on a variety of factors including your body fat, metabolism, amount taken and length of use. Its effects are also altered depending on how it’s administered. People will get a more instant ‘hit’ from smoking or vaping cannabis as it passes more quickly into the bloodstream and to the brain. Whereas, eating cannabis in a cake or cookie, or drinking it in tea, will take longer to get into your system.

Most cannabinoids, such as the THC found in cannabis, are stored in fat cells and slowly released. Which means the effects from cannabis can reoccur for 12-24 hours after use (2). How long cannabis stays in your system and the likelihood it will show up on a drugs test depends on the dose taken, your hydration levels, the concentration of THC and how well your body can metabolise it (3).

How long does cannabis stay in your urine?

Urine analysis is one way to detect cannabis in the human body. It can still be found present up to 30 days after use by heavy abusers or those with high body fat (4).

How long does cannabis stay in your saliva?

There is a shorter window of testing positive for cannabis in saliva – usually around 24 to 72 hours. Saliva tests are used to screen for the parent drug compound TBC delta 9 and 11.

How long does cannabis stay in your blood?

Again, test results from blood samples can vary depending on light or heavy cannabis use. Cannabis is detectable in blood for around 24 hours, but a frequent user might still test positive for up to 7 days.

How long does cannabis stay in your hair follicles?

Hair tests rarely give false positives and are therefore a reliable predictor of cannabis use. Using 1.5 inches of recent growth, cannabis can be detected in hair samples for up to 90 days (4).

What are Cannabis withdrawal symptoms?

Once the body has become reliant on a substance it takes time to wean yourself off it. If you’ve been using cannabis heavily for many years, it’s important that you don’t attempt to suddenly quit without medical help. Delamere has a team of cannabis addiction experts who can support you mentally and physically in the first phase of withdrawal during a clinical drug detox and be there for you emotionally as you embark on a life free from drugs.

The body goes through many changes in the cycle of addiction and will have a specific set of reactions as you remove its dependence on cannabis. Here are some of the most common withdrawal symptoms lasting up to two weeks:

Cravings for nicotine

When cannabis is smoked it has several negative long-term effects on the body, including lung damage and increased chance of lung infections, such as bronchitis. It also makes it even harder to quit, because someone with a cannabis addiction will not only need to overcome the reliance on cannabis, but also wean themselves off nicotine. At Delamere, we can help you with smoking cessation aids and medication to manage your cravings in the first few days of abstinence.

Irritability, anxiety and depression

Cannabis can cause anxiety and depression during use, as well as being a common symptom of the withdrawal process (5). This is due to the way it interferes with the pleasure and reward centres of the brain. If you experience violent mood swings when quitting cannabis or have extended periods of hallucinations or paranoid delusions, you must seek medical help. Delamere offers a range of therapeutic treatments that can help you through any psychological problems.

Sleep disorders and night terrors

Cannabis is a psychotic substance which upsets the brain’s delicate balance. Poor sleep is reported In both heavy users and after discontinuing use. Studies show many people report problems with insomnia during withdrawal from cannabis with nightmares and strange dreams being very common (6).

Lack of appetite

The THC in cannabis has the ability to stimulate appetite, which is why you’ll find heavy users craving snacks while taking it. This therefore can have the opposite effect when someone quits. Decreased appetite or weight loss has been robustly reported across several studies. This comes on suddenly but is usually resolved relatively quickly with the right medical support (7).

Physical symptoms

Other physical symptoms that are commonly reported during the withdrawal process include sweating, shaking, stomach pain, fever, chills and headache. At Delamere we have robust treatment programmes that help our guests overcome cannabis addiction and avoid these unpleasant symptoms in our purpose-built retreat. If you need support, we are only a phone call away.

The Delamere approach to cannabis withdrawal

We have a complete multi-disciplinary team of nurses, doctors and psychotherapists who can help you to overcome all of the stresses and strains cannabis addiction has placed on your system. Our residential rehab programmes begin with a clinical drug detox that combats all of the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms and helps your body adjust gently to life without drugs.

During this time you will have a chance to relax and ease yourself into the recovery process with support from your focal therapist. Our programmes are evidence-based, challenging and varied. We use a combination of one-to-one counselling, group therapy and somatic healing techniques, including equine therapy, to achieve lasting results.

Our unique three-step approach considers how your body has been affected psychologically, emotionally and physically. We will help you to understand what is triggering your cannabis addiction and develop coping mechanisms to help you in life beyond our retreat.


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Our core elements of treatment

We believe that cannabis addiction, whether stemming from a need to relieve stress or forget troubles – stems from somewhere. Rather than adhering to the conventional step-based programmes, we look at underlying factors that drive your behaviour. Only by recognising how you arrived at this point can you begin to positively shape your future.

  1. Stopping the cycle of addiction safely and comfortably
  2. Healing whatever pain is causing the behaviour
  3. Instilling tools to help facilitate change and encourage continued growth


Stopping the cycle of addiction or burnout safely and comfortably


Healing whatever
pain is causing
the behaviour


Instilling tools to help facilitate change and encourage continued growth

Why choose Delamere?

Holistic approach to recovery

Discreet location

Luxury ensuite accommodation

Personalised programmes

Flexible stays

24-hour care & support

On-site gym & health studio

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Outcomes focused

Everything we do here is about outcomes. Focusing on getting you back to yourself again in the short term, but then growing beyond that when you leave Delamere. Helping you create the foundations for long-term recovery and growth.

Individual care

There’s no one-size-fits-all here. We listen, learn and tailor our programmes to meet your personal needs, whatever they may be. Your journey to recovery is yours, so we design our programmes with you in mind.


Creative therapies

Nature and creativity often bring out the best in people, especially after a difficult period in their life. We offer equine and art therapy, fire ceremonies, nature walks and more to help you relax, reflect and see the world in a new way.

“My own journey through addiction was the inspiration for Delamere. We provide exemplary care in first-class facilities, focusing on creating lasting outcomes for our guests and their families. Helping them not just overcome their addiction, but grow beyond it.”

Martin Preston, Founder & CEO at Delamere

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Know someone who needs help with a cannabis addiction?

If a friend, family member or work colleague is showing signs of cannabis addiction, it’s important they get help.

Our admissions team is on hand 24/7 to help answer any questions about our drug detox programmes and make sure your loved one gets the support they need.

Call the team today on 0330 111 2015 to discuss the different options available.


1. Hall W, Degenhardt L, Teesson M. Cannabis use and psychotic disorders: an update. Drug Alcohol Rev. 2004;23:433–443. .
2. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.
3. Redwood Toxicology Laboratory. Marijuana Drug Information.
4. Erowid Cannabis (Marijuana) Vault: Drug Testing. Erowid.org (2010-02-28). Retrieved on August 7, 2011.
5. Wilkinson ST, Radhakrishnan R, D’souza DC. Impact of Cannabis Use on the Development of Psychotic Disorders. Curr Addict Rep. 2014;1(2):115-128. doi:10.1007/s40429-014-0018-7.
6. Peter Gates, Lucy Albertella & Jan Copeland (2016) Cannabis withdrawal and sleep: A systematic review of human studies, Substance Abuse, 37:1, 255-269, DOI: 10.1080/08897077.2015.1023484.
7. Hesse, M., & Thylstrup, B. (2013). Time-course of the DSM-5 cannabis withdrawal symptoms in poly-substance abusers. BMC psychiatry, 13, 258. https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-244X-13-258.