How Long Does Cocaine Stay in Your System?

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How Long Does Cocaine Stay in Your System?

Cocaine is an increasingly popular recreational drug in America, with approximately 5.2 million Americans reporting cocaine use in the past year. Although it can no longer be legally marketed for recreational purposes (they stopped putting cocaine in coke a decade ago), it is still widely abused due to its euphoric effect and is highly addictive. Users will sniff, snort, inject, rub on gums, or smoke cocaine in its crack form. Compared to other drugs, its high is short-lived, and it doesn’t remain in the body for long. Its “half-life”- length of active life – is only about 30-90 minutes.  

Learn more about cocaine addiction

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What Are the Effects of Cocaine Use?

When cocaine enters the body, its effects are usually felt immediately. The resulting high is intense but brief.

Common effects are:

  • Euphoria
  • Increased energy
  • Increased desire to talk
  • Restlessness
  • Heightened anxiety
  • Increased alertness
  • Decreased appetite

The more cocaine is used, the higher grows the body’s tolerance to it – and the greater and more frequent the dosages the user will require in order to achieve the same “high”.

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How Long Does It Take for Cocaine to Activate?

The method of ingestion will determine the amount of time it will take for cocaine to activate in the body.

  • Smoking: 10-15 seconds
  • Injecting: 10-15 seconds
  • Snorting: 1-3 minutes
  • Rubbing on the gums: 1-3 minutes

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How Long Does the High from Cocaine Last?

The effects of cocaine are typically short-lived; the high is intense but wears off quickly.

Once again, the length of time for which a high will last is dependent upon the method of ingestion. The more slowly the high takes effect, the longer it will last.

  • Smoking: 5-15 minutes
  • Injecting: 5-15 minutes
  • Snorting: 15-30 minutes
  • Rubbing on the gums: 15-30 minutes

After the short-term high of cocaine wears off, a crash ensues as the body readjusts to normal dopamine levels. This creates a vicious cycle of cravings, drug use, the crash, and eventual addiction.  

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Factors That Determine How Long Effects Linger

Various factors can affect how long the cocaine high lasts for:

  • Amount of cocaine used
  • Frequency of usage
  • Ingestion method (snorting, injecting, etc…)
  • Purity of the cocaine
  • Presence of other substances
  • Genetics and chemistry of user

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How Long Does Crack Cocaine Stay in Your System?

The amount of time a drug remains in one's system is determined by its half-life. Crack Cocaine or cocaine usually stays in one’s system for up to three days from the last dose, but traces can be detected for up to two weeks in heavier users.

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How Long Does Cocaine Stay in Your Blood?

When tested in the blood, traces of cocaine can be found up to 12 hours after use. However, the metabolite Benzoylecgonine can be detected up to 48 hours after use.

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How Long Can Cocaine Be Tested in Hair?

A test of hair follicles can detect cocaine for up to three months after being used.

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How Long Does Cocaine Stay in Urine?

A urine test can detect cocaine use for up to three days after the last dose, and is the most accurate and common method of testing. Urine holds the lowest chance of cross-reactivity when tested, making it unlikely to get false results.

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How Long Does Cocaine Stay in Saliva?

Using a device designed to test saliva, doctors can detect cocaine in the saliva for up to two days after the last dose.

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Half Life of Cocaine

A drug’s half-life is determined by the amount of time it takes for the body to clear out half of the drug. Generally, the shorter the half-life of a drug, the more intense the withdrawal will be. The half-life of cocaine is particularly short compared to most drugs. It only takes the body about 30-90 minutes to clear out half of the amount of the drug taken.

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How Does the Body Get Rid of Cocaine?

Cocaine first interacts with the body by entering the bloodstream and attaching to plasma. The blood is then filtered through the liver, which acts as its “cleaning system.”  The liver breaks down cocaine into metabolites for it to easily pass through the body’s excretion system. These metabolites will show up in a drug test longer than cocaine will. The most common of these metabolites is benzoylecgonine, found in most cocaine users’ drug tests.

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Testing for Cocaine Use

Scientists have developed tests to detect whether or not cocaine was used – usually a drug screen, toxicology report, or cocaine test. Saliva, blood, urine, hair, and sweat can all detect traces of cocaine in the body.

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Factors That Affect Detection:

As with all drug tests, the accuracy of results and duration of time for which cocaine stays in one’s system can be affected by other factors.

Some of the factors that can affect cocaine detection are:

  • Alcohol and Caffeine Consumption- These substances bind to cocaine receptors, impeding cocaine’s excretion from the body.
  • Body Fat- Benzoylecgonine can be stored in fatty tissue. If one has a high body fat index, the metabolite may remain in the body for longer.
  • Hydration- Water speeds the excretion of cocaine, while dehydration slows the process.
  • Physical Activity- People who are active or have a higher metabolic rate will excrete cocaine faster.
  • Method of Ingestion- The method of ingestion affects how long cocaine remains in the system. The general rule is that the faster cocaine is absorbed into the bloodstream, the quicker it leaves the body. (Therefore, cocaine that is snorted or rubbed will remain in the system for longer than cocaine that is injected or smoked.)

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How to Get Cocaine Out of Your System

The proven method to rid the body of cocaine is to stop usage. Many online suggestions for “quick fixes,” such as a water flush or detox pills, don’t work. These methods are not scientifically proven and should not be used. Instead, allowing the body to eliminate cocaine naturally is the safest way to recover from its use. While the body is detoxing from cocaine use, withdrawal symptoms are expected. A drug rehab facility like Avenues Recovery or an outpatient rehab program can help you or a loved one manage withdrawal symptoms for a full recovery.

To learn more about cocaine use and addiction, including how much an 8-ball of cocaine costs, read our online resources.

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