Heavy and prolonged use of cocaine exposes you to risks and dangers, many of which could leave a lasting negative impact on you and your loved ones. If you wonder how long cocaine can stay in your system, it may be because you've noticed that you or a loved one has a problem with cocaine abuse. Or perhaps, you have tried the drug for the first time and are worrying about drug tests and how long it can stay in your system. Read this article to find out more about cocaine, drug tests, and the factors that influence the retention of cocaine in your body.
What Is Cocaine?
Cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant drug derived from the leaves of the coca plant. It is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance. This means that while it can be used medically as a local anesthesia, it also has a very high potential for drug abuse.
Cocaine usually comes in the form of a fine white powder and is often consumed by snorting it through the nose. It can also be taken in by rubbing it into the gums or injecting it into the bloodstream.
Cocaine, or coke, is a very fast-acting central nervous system stimulant that produces an intense euphoric high. Cocaine use affects the reward center in the brain by rapidly increasing the amount of dopamine, the feel-good chemical in the brain.
Cocaine Use Disorder
Because cocaine's high is usually short, people feel tempted to take it more often and in larger quantities. This regular or repeated cocaine use puts you at greater risk of becoming a heavy cocaine user and developing drug dependence and, ultimately, a drug addiction.
Statistics released in 2020 by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health reveal that 5.2 million people aged 12 and older reported using cocaine in the previous 12 months. In the same survey, it was found that among people aged 12 and older, 1.3 million had had a cocaine use disorder in the previous 12 months.
Health Risks of Cocaine Abuse
Cocaine affects a user's physical and mental health in many different ways.
- Heart and blood: Permanent damage to heart blood vessels. Arrhythmia of the heart. Increased risk of heart attacks and/or strokes.
- Liver and kidney damage
- Lungs: Respiratory failure;
- Face: Holes in the nose and roof of the mouth. Decayed gums.
- Mental health: Paranoia, panic attacks, anxiety, and depression. Aggravating pre-existing mental health disorders. Developing psychosis.
The effects of taking cocaine are noticeable very quickly after someone has taken the drug.
- Euphoric talking
- Agitation and sweating
- Mentally alert
- High blood pressure
- Hypersensitivity to light
- Risky behavior due to being overly confident
The method one chooses to consume cocaine may influence the speed and duration of cocaine's effects.
- The high from snorting cocaine starts within one to three minutes and may last 15 to 30 minutes.
- Smoking cocaine can result in a high, noticeable after about 10 seconds and lasting from five to 15 minutes.
- Injecting cocaine produces a quicker and stronger but shorter-lasting high than other methods of use. Its effects can be felt about 10 seconds after, similar to smoking cocaine, and last between five to 15 minutes.
- Lastly, by ingesting cocaine, you can feel the high within one to three minutes and it will last between 15 to 30 minutes.
The term half-life refers to the amount of time your body takes to absorb half of the whole drug amount you used. For cocaine, its half-life is between 30 to 90 minutes.
Cocaine Addiction Signs
According to criteria presented by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the signs of cocaine misuse disorder are:
- Spending a lot of time engaging in activities related to cocaine use
- Using cocaine in greater quantities or for a longer time than intended
- Developing tolerance, needing more quantities to feel the high
- Making unsuccessful attempts to cut or stop using cocaine
- Continuing use despite physical health or emotional problems associated with substance abuse
- Isolating from or limited participation in social or recreational activities due to cocaine use
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when attempting to cut back or stop consuming cocaine
If you believe you or someone else close to you meets at least three of the criteria described above, then it is crucial to seek addiction treatment.
Binge use is the period in which individuals use cocaine over and over again to maintain the feeling of being high. Binging is often followed by an unpleasant crash, or comedown, that can make users seek more of the drug to counter the crash.
The symptoms of a cocaine crash are:
- Fatigue and sleepiness
- Decreased pleasure response
Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms
Cocaine withdrawal symptoms can start from a few hours to a few days after the last time you used it.
When experiencing withdrawal, you can expect many of the following symptoms:
- Trouble sleeping
- Depression and anxiety
- Concentration issues
- Appetite changes
- Vivid dreams
- Feeling of restlessness
When cocaine is mixed with other substances, such as fentanyl, for instance, it increases the chance of suffering an overdose. When people buy cocaine from a dealer, they do not know what is in the package. This is because dealers often mix cocaine with other substances in order to stretch out their stock.
Even if someone has engaged in drug abuse for a long time, they are still vulnerable to overdosing because the strength of the cocaine they buy could vary from one day to the next.
It is important to seek medical help as soon as you or a loved one shows symptoms of overdose.
- Irregular heartbeat or pulse
- Chest pain
- High blood pressure
- Extreme agitation
- Trouble breathing and noisy breathing
- Loss of consciousness
- Pinned pupils
- Pale and clammy skin
How Long Does Cocaine Stay in Your System?
A few factors affect how long cocaine stays in your system.
- How much cocaine you take: The greater the amount,the longer it stays in your system.
- Frequency of use: The more often you consume cocaine, the more likely it is that drug tests will find it.
- Drug purity: If the dose is mixed with other substances or contaminants, this may affect the amount of time it takes your body to process it.
- Drinking alcohol: If you mix both cocaine and alcohol, your body has to work harder to cleanse itself and this increases the length of time that the drug stays in your system.
- Your body composition: Cocaine's main metabolite, benzoylecgonine, is commonly looked for in drug tests. It can be stored in fatty tissues. This means that people with more body fat may store cocaine metabolites in their system for longer.
How Long Can a Drug Test Detect Cocaine?
Whether a drug test can detect cocaine in your system can depend on which type of drug test is used.
Sometimes a drug test can give you a false positive because of an error with the equipment or because of the presence of another substance in your system. If you believe there has been an error, ask for a different drug test.
Blood tests use a blood sample to detect the substance. Cocaine can be detected in your blood test up to two days after use.
A hair test uses a hair sample to detect the substance. However, the environment you're in may also deposit cocaine on your hair, which may lead to false positives.
Cocaine can be detected by hair follicle tests up to 90 days after use.
A tester collects the saliva sample using a special swab or device. This is deposited quickly and directly into a tube to protect the sample. This way, a saliva test can be more secure or more difficult to cheat than a urine test.
A saliva test can test positive for cocaine up to two days after use.
Because the urinary tract is a major detox pathway, urine test samples are the most commonly used form of drug screening.
It is possible to detect cocaine with urine tests up to four days after taking the drug.
Cocaine Addiction Treatment
If you are wondering, "how long does cocaine stay in the body?" or "how long does cocaine stay detectable by drug tests" it suggests that cocaine use has become a problem for you or a loved one. The best way not to test positive is to give up cocaine, stay away from drug abuse, and seek support.
The first step in recovery is to seek professional medical advice and to find out more about addiction treatment centers near you. At a treatment facility, you can receive an assessment. A treatment plan can be developed to address your addiction and any other mental health issues you might experience.
When you are living a sober life, you never need to worry about a urine, blood, or saliva test again.
At Cornerstone in Southern California, we are experts in treating addiction to cocaine. We can provide you with professional support to help you move forward. Our treatments for cocaine addiction include:
- Medically-assisted detox under supervision by medical professionals
- Talk therapies, including cognitive behavior therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, and compassion-focused therapy
- Group therapy
- Families and couples therapy
- Art therapy
- Nutrition education
We run inpatient and outpatient programs. We also offer an extended care program, relapse prevention therapy, and an alumni program where you can socialize and have fun with others in recovery.
Every person's experience of addiction is unique to them. To provide you with a tailored program that will address your needs, we perform an individualized assessment. We will ask you about your health history, and you will have the chance to ask us questions.
Our team of specialists can then put together a program to help you overcome dependency, understand the root causes of your addiction, and find ways to stay sober in the future.
Get in touch today to find out more about cocaine addiction treatment at Cornerstone. Our mission is to help you get back to your best self.