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How long does cocaine stay in your system? This question is commonly asked by many who use this drug. Of course, there are many reasons individuals ask.
The fear of testing positive at work is one reason. Also, people tend to be curious as to when this damaging drug will completely clear from their system after they stop. Furthermore, some people may have legal reasons that require them to be clean from drugs.
It is difficult to say precisely how long cocaine will stay in your system. We know, for example, that your urine may test positive for up to five days after your last use. However, many factors can affect the specific length of time. Some of these reasons include age, metabolism, level of hydration, body mass, amount, and duration of use of cocaine.
In addition, the type of screening test done will determine the length of the detection period. Screening for cocaine in urine, blood, saliva, or hair will have different windows of detection. This duration can be as short as one day to as long as three months.
How Long Does Cocaine Stay in Blood, Saliva, Urine, and Hair?
Cocaine is one of the drugs found in most drug screening panels. If you use cocaine, it will likely show up in most testing done for work, legal purposes, or in medical clinics. Of course, this will depend on several factors, including the last day of cocaine use.
Note, however, that cocaine is broken up by the body quickly. What this means is that cocaine itself is not detectable in most screening tests. What is detected in the screening is a breakdown product of cocaine called benzoylecgonine. This chemical stays in the body much longer than the original cocaine.
Cocaine has a very short half-life of about one hour. Benzoylecgonine, on the other hand, has a half-life of about six hours. Ecgonine methyl ester is yet another metabolite of cocaine.
Even though the time frames differ somewhat, the average detection times are:
Blood: Up to 48 hours
Saliva: 1-2 days
Urine: 1-5 days (but up to 1-2 weeks in heavy users)
Sweat: 1-2 weeks
Hair: Up to 90 days (but longer in heavy users)
According to some reports, a heavy user can test positive on a urine test for up to 2 weeks. The reason for this is because cocaine stores in fatty tissues when people use it for a long time.
Although urine testing remains the standard, sweat patches are a convenient alternative. The reason for this is because they avoid some of the issues with drug testing — for example, privacy violations, possible disease transmission, and transportation of body fluids.
If you have concerns about how long cocaine stays in your system, you are better off stopping — especially considering the adverse effects of this drug.
What Factors Affect Cocaine Stay in Your System?
How long cocaine stays in your system depends on many factors. We listed a few earlier but let us expand on this. Below are the most typical variables that determine how long cocaine stays in your body.
- The amount of cocaine you use
- The length of time you use cocaine for
- The frequency of use
- The purity level of cocaine
- Your body metabolism
- Alcohol use can prolong cocaine in your system
- Being overweight can cause cocaine to last longer in your body
- Inactive people remove cocaine more slowly from their system
- Excessive caffeine can slow down the removal of cocaine from your body
- Dehydration also slows down the excretion
- Kidney and liver disease
- Method of drug testing
Cocaine and Alcohol
Many individuals who use cocaine also drink alcohol. So, what is the effect of drinking while abusing cocaine? Does cocaine stay longer in your system when you drink? Yes, it does!
Several issues can arise from the combination of these two substances. A few of these are:
- Cocaine stays longer in the body when a person drinks alcohol.
- Alcohol can increase blood cocaine levels by up to 30%.
- Impairment from driving under the influence of alcohol is worse with cocaine ingestion.
- Combining alcohol and cocaine causes an increase in heart rate.
- Cocaine and alcohol in the body produce a dangerous chemical – cocaethylene. This substance has adverse effects on the heart.
Street Names of Cocaine
Cocaine is a white powder obtained from coca leaves. Ingestion is usually by oral ingestion, smoking, snorting or injecting. There are many street names for this drug. The common ones are:
- Soda Cot
- Nose Candy
How Quickly Does Cocaine Work?
The speed of action of cocaine’s effects depends on the method of use. The faster the absorption, the more intense the resulting high, but also the shorter its duration. Below is a summary of cocaine’s effects:
Snorting: Effects within 5 minutes and last up to 30 minutes
Smoking: Effects within 10 seconds and last up to 30 minutes
Intravenous use: Effects within 10 seconds and last up to 30 minutes
Oral ingestion: Effects within 10-30 minutes and last up to 90 minutes
Because of its short half-life, some people may use cocaine many times in a short period to stay high. This excessive use is known as a binge. Unfortunately, this results in a crash. To avoid this crash, people use even more to counter this effect.
Cocaine causes a flood of dopamine in the brain. The increase in this chemical causes the euphoria from this drug. The dopamine effect is also what subsequently leads to tolerance, dependence, and addiction.
Effects of Cocaine
- Weight loss
- Loss of sense of smell
- Chronic inflammation of the nose
- Constant runny nose
- Difficulty swallowing
- Aortic rupture
- Difficulty with attention, decision-making, and memory
- Impairment of motor tasks
- Increase in the risk of Parkinson’s disease
- Heart disease
- Risk of HIV and hepatitis
How long does cocaine stay in your system to cause intoxication? It is not the length of stay but, instead, the dose of cocaine you ingest. Taking large doses of cocaine can lead to a high concentration in the blood. Consequently, cocaine intoxication can occur. Symptoms manifest as:
- Irregular heartbeat
- Enlarged pupils
- High or low blood pressure
- Increase or decrease in heart rate
- Weight loss
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest pain
Cocaine intoxication is dangerous and sometimes even fatal.
To make matters worse, cocaine is sometimes cut with other substances. Hence, other complications can arise from using such adulterated drugs. For this reason, and others, it is vital to get professional help.
If you have been using cocaine for a while, you will likely have some withdrawal symptoms when you stop. These can include the following:
- Vivid, unpleasant dreams
- Difficulty sleeping or sleeping excessively
- Increase in appetite
Treatment for Cocaine Addiction
You may have concerns about how long cocaine stays in your system. Perhaps, because of testing positive at work, or for legal reasons. If this is the case, you may want to consider getting professional help.
There are many claims of ways to “flush out” cocaine from your system. Some of these examples include using detox pills, drinking excessive amounts of water, and ingesting some natural supplements. Despite these claims, none of them have a proven scientific basis. Thus, it is not recommended you try them.
In terms of treatment, medical detox is usually the first step. Following detox, some treatment options include residential treatment, partial hospitalization program, intensive outpatient program, and outpatient follow up with an addiction specialist.
Behavioral therapies are a significant part of treatment. Such therapies include cognitive-behavioral therapy, motivational enhancement, and contingency management interventions.
Support groups are also beneficial. These groups offer accountability as well as guidance from peers. Also, support from family and friends remains vital.
Self-medication with drugs, including cocaine, is quite common. As a result, it is essential to treat underlying mental illnesses. Such disorders may include depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The risk of relapse is much higher for people who try to quit without professional help. So, to ensure you get proper treatment, it is essential to get the right management.
There are several reasons an individual may need a drug test. Some of such reasons include applying for a new job, being on parole, and driving under the influence of drugs. Also, some insurance policy applications may require drug testing. As a result of the implications of testing positive, people may worry about how long cocaine will stay in their system.
Many factors determine how long cocaine will stay in someone’s body. Some of these reasons include the amount of cocaine, body metabolism, and age. In addition, dehydration, combination with other drugs and methods of testing can also affect this.
Cocaine has a very short half-life. Hence, most screening tests detect the breakdown products of cocaine. These chemicals are known as metabolites. Benzoylecgonine is the commonest metabolite that shows up in screening tests. Ecgonine methyl ester is also another metabolite, though not as common.
On average, blood and saliva will test positive for up to 2 days. For urine, it is usually about 1-5 days, but with hair testing, detection can last up to 90 days and even longer. Combining cocaine with alcohol makes cocaine stay longer in your system.
There is no specific medication for the treatment of cocaine addiction. It is, however, essential to get professional help. Such treatment usually starts with medical detox. Subsequently, inpatient or outpatient treatment is recommended. Behavioral therapies and support groups are also helpful. In addition, it is vital to prevent self-medication by treating underlying mental disorders.
Cocaine has many adverse effects. In addition to the physical problems it causes, there are also family, work, and legal implications. Therefore, it is essential to get the help you need today!