Cocaine is a highly addictive and illegal stimulant drug. In 2021, an estimated 4.8 million people used cocaine and 1.4 million were addicted to it. After the last use, cocaine or its metabolites can show up on urine tests for up to two weeks and in blood or saliva for about two days. However, there are several factors, including the extent of use and individual physiology, that affect how long cocaine stays in your system.

Exploring Cocaine’s Half-Life

Cocaine is a short-acting drug. Its half-life is about one hour. A drug’s half-life describes how long it takes the body to eliminate half of a single dose from the bloodstream. It takes approximately 4-5 half-lives for a drug to be eliminated from the bloodstream, meaning cocaine is cleared from the blood within about five hours.

However, various types of drug tests can detect recent cocaine use for much longer. This is because drug tests look for traces of drugs called metabolites which can linger in the body for longer periods of time.

How Long Does Cocaine Stay in Urine, Blood, Saliva, and Hair?

Several types of drug tests can detect recent cocaine use. Each drug test has a different detection time. While there are various factors that affect how long drug tests can detect the presence of cocaine, estimated detection times are as follows.

Urine tests

The most widely used type of drug test is urinalysis. Employers frequently use urine tests for pre-employment screenings. Individuals pee into a cup which is then tested using a dipstick. Urine tests can detect cocaine and its metabolites in the urine for up to three days in most people, but up to two weeks for heavy users.

Blood tests

Blood tests are typically used in medical settings. They may be used to determine intoxication. Cocaine remains detectable in blood for up to two days after the last dose.

Saliva tests

Cocaine can be detected in saliva for up to two days after the last dose.

Hair tests

Hair tests have a long detection window. Cocaine can be detected in hair samples for up to 90 days by testing the hair follicle.

Factors that Affect How Long Cocaine Stays in Your System

How long cocaine stays in the body is determined by several factors, including:

  • Metabolism – Individual differences in metabolism play a significant role in how long cocaine is detected in urine, blood, and saliva. People with faster metabolism rates tend to eliminate cocaine more quickly from their bodies compared to those with slower metabolisms.
  • Frequency of use – Regular or long-term cocaine users may have a buildup of metabolites in their system, prolonging the detection window. On the other hand, occasional users may clear the drug from their bodies more rapidly.
  • Dosage – The amount of cocaine consumed affects how long it remains detectable in the body. Higher doses result in higher concentrations of cocaine and its metabolites, which can extend the detection window.
  • Method of administration – The method by which cocaine is ingested also impacts its elimination time. For example, intravenous (IV) use typically results in faster metabolism compared to snorting or smoking cocaine.
  • Body composition – Individual factors such as body weight, hydration level, and overall health can influence how quickly cocaine is metabolized and excreted from the body. Someone with a higher body fat percentage may metabolize cocaine at a slower rate.
  • Liver and kidney function – Individuals with impaired liver or kidney function may metabolize cocaine more slowly, leading to a longer detection window.
  • Using alcohol or other drugs – Using alcohol, other drugs, or certain medications can impact the metabolism of cocaine.

How is Cocaine Metabolized?

The body begins metabolizing cocaine almost immediately after the drug is ingested. It moves through the bloodstream to the liver where enzymes break it down into metabolites like benzoylecgonine and ecgonine methyl ester. These metabolites are further processed and eventually eliminated from the body through urine.

How Long Do the Effects of Cocaine Last?

Even though cocaine can stay in your system for up to two weeks after heavy use, it is a fairly short-acting drug with short-lived effects. The effects of cocaine may appear within minutes of ingestion and last for 30-60 minutes. Common side effects of cocaine include:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Dilated pupils
  • Decreased appetite
  • Heightened alertness
  • Increased energy and euphoria
  • Restlessness or agitation
  • Insomnia
  • Paranoia or anxiety
  • Aggressive or violent behavior
  • Hallucinations
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Tremors or muscle twitches
  • Impaired judgment and decision-making
  • Risk of seizures or convulsions (especially with high doses)

Because the effects are short-lived, people often binge on the drug and become addicted to it.

Signs of Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine is highly addictive, and people can get hooked after just a few uses. Common signs of cocaine addiction are:

  • Increased tolerance to cocaine, requiring larger amounts to achieve the desired effects
  • Persistent cravings or urges to use cocaine
  • Spending too much time obtaining, using, or recovering from the effects of cocaine
  • Continued cocaine use despite experiencing negative consequences in personal, social, or professional areas of life
  • Withdrawal symptoms when not using cocaine, such as fatigue, depression, anxiety, irritability, and intense cravings
  • Failed attempts to cut down or control cocaine use
  • Neglecting responsibilities at work, school, or home
  • Engaging in risky behaviors such as driving recklessly or participating in unsafe sexual practices
  • Relationship problems, including conflicts with family members, friends, or partners
  • Financial difficulties or legal issues such as borrowing money, stealing, or getting arrested for drug-related offenses
  • Social isolation or withdrawal from activities and hobbies
  • Using cocaine to cope with stress, negative emotions, or underlying mental health issues
  • Physical signs of cocaine use, such as dilated pupils, nosebleeds, weight loss, dental problems, and track marks (if injecting)
  • Hiding or lying about cocaine use

If you or someone you know is exhibiting these signs, it’s essential to seek help from a trusted addiction treatment center as soon as possible.

Find Treatment for Cocaine Addiction

1st Step Behavioral Health’s cocaine rehab in Florida provides the drug addiction treatment and support that clients need to begin their journey to long-term recovery. Personalized cocaine addiction treatment plans allow clients to get the targeted help they need to create healthier routines, improve their mental health, and reduce the risk of relapse. To learn more about our treatment programs or to get started with a confidential assessment, please contact us today.

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