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What Is a Contact High?

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We all know that secondhand smoke from cigarettes is dangerous. Every year, thousands of people die from the effects of secondhand smoke, and there has been a lot of public pushback over the decades to reduce exposure to cigarette fumes — such as public smoking bans and legislation.

But what about secondhand marijuana smoke? The mind-altering effects of marijuana's psychotropic chemical, THC, are notorious. And it turns out that it can still impact you even if you don’t smoke it directly. When inhaled, secondhand marijuana smoke can make its way into your system in an occurrence known as a contact high.

While contact highs are not as intense as actually smoking marijuana, they can still produce some physical effects. In this blog post, we will discuss what contact highs are, how they affect your body, and whether they appear on drug tests.

What Is a Contact High?

You might be wondering: Can you really get high from secondhand smoke? The answer to this question depends on how much contact you have with marijuana smoke. If you are around someone who is smoking marijuana and the air is filled with the smell of cannabis, it is possible that you could experience some mild effects from a contact high. In addition to inhaling secondhand marijuana smoke, contact with cannabis-infused objects, such as clothing or skin contact, can also cause you to experience a contact high.

These effects may include feeling relaxed or lightheaded, but they will not be as intense as actually smoking marijuana yourself.

How a Contact High Affects Your Body

When exposed to secondhand marijuana smoke, your body can absorb small amounts of THC (the psychoactive compound in cannabis). This process likely won’t get you "high," but it can cause some mild physical effects such as dry mouth, dizziness, and red eyes. The intensity of these symptoms will depend on how much contact you have with the marijuana smoke and your unique body chemistry.

Is a Contact High Dangerous?

No, contact highs generally aren’t dangerous. They will not cause any long-term effects on your health, and you should be able to return to normal after a few hours. In the meantime, you should avoid contact with additional marijuana smoke if possible, as it may prolong or deepen the effect of your contact high.

Does a Contact High Show Up on a Drug Test?

Typically, contact highs will not show up on drug tests. The amount of THC absorbed from secondhand smoke is usually too low to be detected. However, if you are exposed to large amounts of marijuana smoke over an extended time, it is possible that enough THC could build up in your system for a contact high to show up on a drug screen. In this way, secondhand marijuana smoke could lead to a failed drug test.

How Drug Screens Test for THC

Drug tests are used to detect the presence of THC and other drugs in a person’s system. These tests work by measuring levels of THC metabolites, which are produced when your body breaks down THC from marijuana use. It is important to note that contact highs will not produce the same types of metabolites as smoking cannabis does, which is why it's rarer for contact highs to cause a failed drug test.

Still, if you're around marijuana smoke on a consistent basis, you could run the risk of a positive presence of THC on your drug screen.

Consequences of a Failed Drug Test

Even if your contact high does show up on a drug test, it is unlikely that you will face any legal repercussions. However, it is important to remember that some employers and organizations may have policies that require employees or members to pass drug tests. If you fail a drug test due to contact with marijuana smoke, you could be subject to disciplinary action or even be terminated from your job.

Can You Remove THC from Your System?

The only way to completely remove THC from your system is to abstain from contact with marijuana smoke for a prolonged period. So if you have been exposed to marijuana smoke and are worried about failing a drug test, there's not much you can do to detox after the fact.

However, you can take steps to find out if your contact high was significant enough to register on a drug screen. By taking your own at-home drug test, you can determine whether THC is likely to register on your results before putting yourself into a position that may require drug testing — such as applying for a particular job.

Get the Answers You Need with Countrywide Testing

If you are concerned that contact with marijuana smoke could lead to a failed drug test, Countrywide Testing can help. Although the low THC levels of a contact high won't show up on most standard drug tests, some employers, sports leagues, or government agencies may opt for more comprehensive drug screening. That’s why it's important to get the facts before you risk the repercussions of a false positive.

At Countrywide Testing, our reliable and accurate drug testing services can help you understand if any substances — from marijuana and other recreational drugs to legitimate supplements or prescribed medications — will cause any issues by showing up on your test.

Countrywide is an online retailer providing you with easy access to standard drug tests. We offer an array of products for testing at home, individuals staying clean after rehab, workplace testing, healthcare emergencies, and law enforcement purposes. Our test kits are convenient, affordable, and ship to you quickly. Plus, our lab is accredited by SAMHSA, so you can rest assured that your test results are handled according to the highest industry standards.

At Countrywide Testing, we provide fast, accurate results in an easy-to-use format so that you can get the information you need. Contact us today to learn more about our comprehensive selection of testing services.