How Long Does Cocaine Stay in Your System?

Author: NP Addiction Clinic
Published: January 20, 2022

Cocaine, which has many street names, including coke, charlie, and crack, is a Schedule II drug, meaning it has a high potential for abuse. As cocaine is a powerful drug and can be extremely addictive, regular use can alter your brain function and structure. Drug use can also cause severe psychological problems, as well as physical health issues.

Determining how long cocaine stays in your body can be difficult as many variable factors impact when the drug shows up on a drug test.

When it comes to reviewing how long cocaine stays in the body, there are multiple tests, such as urine tests, blood tests, saliva tests, and hair samples, that can be conducted to detect cocaine in your body.

Below, we share more about how long cocaine stays in your system.

What Is Cocaine?

Cocaine is a stimulant originating from the coca plant, native to South America. Cocaine is sometimes used in health care settings, for example, as a local anesthetic. However, recreational cocaine use is illegal.

The street form of cocaine is a fine white powder. Cocaine purchased from dealers is often cut with talcum powder or flour to bulk it up and increase profits. It’s also commonly cut with other drugs, such as amphetamine, or extremely dangerous synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl.

Combining synthetic opioids with cocaine comes with significant risks, especially if you do not know what it has been mixed with. It is thought that the increasing number of overdose deaths could be related to this trend of dealers mixing cocaine with other substances.


How Does Cocaine Feel?

Upon consumption, the immediate effects of cocaine include:

  • Feelings of euphoria
  • Increased energy
  • Feeling alert
  • Hypersensitivity of the senses
  • Irritability
  • Paranoia

You may also find that cocaine makes you more efficient in functioning. This can be in simple physical or mental tasks. However, some people feel the opposite after taking cocaine.

In addition to the above, cocaine's effects can lead to unusual, unpredictable, and aggressive behavior.


What Are the Effects of a Cocaine Addiction?

Cocaine works by increasing the quantity of dopamine in your brain, a chemical naturally produced. Dopamine, among other things, is linked with the reward system.

In a normally functioning brain, dopamine is reprocessed back into the cell that initially released it. In doing so, it shuts off signals between nerve cells.

However, cocaine use prevents dopamine from being reprocessed, meaning that large quantities of dopamine collect in the spaces between nerve cells, inhibiting their communication.

These high dopamine levels impact the brain’s reward system and encourage repeated drug use. With prolonged drug use, the reward system in the brain may adapt, becoming more tolerant to the drug. In turn, if you frequently use cocaine, you may need to increase your dosage significantly to feel the same high as you originally did.

Cocaine is well known for causing psychological addiction and physical dependence. Despite this, you may find yourself continuously using more cocaine to combat the negative after-effects of doing so, leading to a pattern of binge use and increasing the risk of dependence.

What Are the Health Effects of Cocaine Abuse?

There are many short and long-term effects of substance use. Some of the immediate physical symptoms include:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Constricted blood vessels
  • Restlessness
  • Increased body temperature and blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Muscle twinges

Long-term health effects of cocaine can depend on how it’s used, but they typically include:

  • Loss of smell, nosebleeds, frequent runny nose, and difficulties swallowing when cocaine is snorted.
  • Asthmatic issues, respiratory problems, and high risk of infections, such as pneumonia, when smoking cocaine.
  • Severe bowel issues due to decreased blood flow when cocaine is administered orally.
  • Increased risk of contracting HIV, hepatitis C, blood diseases, skin infections, scarring, or collapsed veins when cocaine is injected.


How Long Does Cocaine Last?

Cocaine has a half-life of around one hour, which means that it takes one hour to eliminate half of the amount of cocaine in the bloodstream. As enzymes rapidly metabolize cocaine in the liver and the blood, it is not usually detectable in screening tests.


How Is Cocaine Detected in a Drug Test

Screening tests detect benzoylecgonine, which is produced in the body upon metabolizing cocaine, long after use.

There are multiple ways of testing for cocaine. Below, we look at some estimated time ranges in which various methods can pick up cocaine.

  • Blood tests - Blood tests are commonly used in hospitals and can detect cocaine in your system for twelve hours after use. For up to forty-eight hours, they can also detect cocaine metabolites, such as benzoylecgonine.
  • Hair tests - Cocaine metabolites can be detected in hair follicles for up to three months, although the accuracy may depend on where the hair sample has been taken.
  • Saliva tests - When a saliva test is carried out, it can detect cocaine metabolites for up to forty-eight hours after use.
  • Urine tests - Urine tests for cocaine are extremely accurate because it is very rare for this test to confuse non-cocaine substances with cocaine. For this reason, it is the most commonly used test. A urine test can detect cocaine metabolites for up to seventy-two hours after use, and in heavy users, detection times can increase to up to two weeks after use.

What Factors Affect Drug Tests?

If you are questioning how long does cocaine stay in your system, it is important to remember that it is almost impossible to determine precisely how long it does so.

The length of time it stays within the body depends on several factors, including body mass, metabolism speed, and hydration. The following factors also affect drug tests:

  • Frequency of use and drug strength - The more cocaine used, the longer the metabolite remains in your system and can be detected. In addition to the quantity, the purity of the drug also affects the speed benzoylecgonine leaves the body.
  • Alcohol and caffeine consumption - Alcohol can bind with cocaine in the body and inhibit its elimination. Caffeine can have a similar effect on the excretion of cocaine.
  • Body fat - Cocaine metabolites can be collected in fatty tissue. The more body fat you have, the more the drug can accumulate in that tissue and remain in your system.
  • Hydration - Dehydration can cause the drug to stay in your system longer. This is due to water's ability to speed up the excretion of cocaine metabolites.
  • Physical activity - Cocaine leaves the body quickly if you have an active lifestyle and a faster metabolic rate.
  • Method of use - How cocaine is taken affects detection time. Generally, the quicker the drug is absorbed into the bloodstream, the shorter the detection time. Therefore if you inject or smoke cocaine, it will leave the body faster than if you snort it.

Addiction Treatment for Cocaine Use

If you are hoping to uncover how long cocaine stays in your system due to worrying about an addiction or substance abuse, you must take the first steps in overcoming any problems via a cocaine addiction treatment center.

Although recovering from cocaine addiction can be extremely challenging and you may worry that you will not be able to sustain recovery, seeking treatment is in your best interest. Across the country, various treatment facilities can provide treatment options that will help you.

The best way to start your drug abuse recovery journey is to seek professional medical advice and addiction treatment.

If you or a loved one is living with a cocaine addiction, pick up the phone today and take the first step of your treatment process.

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