How Long Does Cocaine Stay in Your System?
How long does cocaine stay in your system? Learn about cocaine’s half-life, side effects, and treatment options here.
Cocaine is one of the most addictive substances known to man. It is the primary drug involved in many substance abuse disorders. Cocaine’s half-life is also exceptionally long, and that’s the primary reason for the massive occurrence of online searches for phrases such as “How long does cocaine stay in your system?” Cocaine has the potential to not only destroy the lives of those under the influence of addiction, but of the lives of loved ones in the sphere of influence as well.
Before we begin, it is important to note that this article is a guideline to find out more about cocaine as a drug and how it affects your system. It is in no way intended to encourage anybody to lie or mislead a cocaine blood test, cocaine urine test, or any other test to measure cocaine in your system. Instead, this is intended to educate on the effects of cocaine misuse and subsequent consequences.
What Is Cocaine?
Cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant drug. Therefore, it is a Schedule II drug. It has a high potential for abuse but can be administered by a doctor for legitimate medical uses, such as local anesthesia for some eye, ear, and throat surgeries.
It is usually used in powder cocaine and crack rock cocaine. Cocaine detection time and how cocaine affects your system can differ depending on which method is used. When it comes to cocaine drug tests, cocaine can be detected via cocaine blood tests, urine tests, or saliva tests. Cocaine detection time depends on several factors, more of which later on.
Drug dealers often dilute (or “cut”) it with non-psychoactive substances such as cornstarch, talcum powder, flour, or baking soda to increase their profits. They may also adulterate cocaine with other drugs like procaine (a chemically related local anesthetic), or amphetamine (another psychoactive stimulant). Some users combine cocaine with heroin.1
The Effects of Cocaine
The effect of Cocaine is described as euphoric with increased energy, reduced fatigue, and heightened mental alertness. Users may be talkative, extroverted, and lose appetite or the need for sleep. The psychoactive and pleasurable effects are short-lived without continued administration.
Biologically, the effect occurs in the midbrain region called the ventral tegmental area (VTA). Neuronal fibers from the VTA connect to the nucleus accumbens, an area of the brain responsible for rewards. Animal studies show that levels of a brain chemical (neurotransmitter) known as dopamine are increased in this area during rewards. Typically, dopamine is released and recycled in response to these rewards.
The use of Cocaine can interfere with this process, allowing dopamine to accumulate and send an amplified ‘reward’ signal to the brain, resulting in the euphoria described by users. Some users report feelings of restlessness, irritability, and anxiety. A tolerance to the high may develop; many addicts say that they seek but fail to achieve as much pleasure as they did from their first exposure. Some users will increase their dose to intensify and prolong the euphoric effects.2
How Is Cocaine Detected?
The question “How long does cocaine stay in your system?” is one of the most commonly asked, and the answer depends on several factors. Other common questions include “What is the cocaine detection time?” and “How is cocaine detected in your system?”
Markers of Cocaine
Once used, cocaine is metabolized by the body and made available to the bloodstream. Two of the most commonly known metabolites are Norcocaine and Benzoylecgonine. These two metabolites and a few others are known to be “markers” for cocaine use. This is because no other drug can metabolize them.
Norcocaine, a minor metabolite of cocaine, is also an active byproduct. It is also being investigated for medical use. Detection for drug testing purposes is somewhat controversial. The presence of Norcocaine can indicate that the person is currently high on cocaine.
On the other hand, Benzoylecgonine is the primary indicator of cocaine use. Its presence in urine is an accurate indicator of Cocaine use. No other drug can be converted into Benzoylecgonine. This makes it the perfect metabolite for detection in urine.3
Types Of Tests For Cocaine Addiction
Many people who ask, “How long does cocaine stay in your system?” are often doing so to try and mislead a drug test for cocaine.
A cocaine screen is a test done to determine whether you have used cocaine recently. The test can be done on your urine, saliva, blood, hair, or sweat. But, first, it looks for the presence of cocaine or one of its metabolites. These are chemicals made by your body in order to process cocaine.
The two most important metabolites of Cocaine are Benzoylecgonine and ecgonine methyl ester. Therefore, testing is usually done for the first of these two metabolites.
Rapid screening tests can be done in an office or clinic. The results arrive in minutes. Because lab tests are more sensitive and reliable, positive results should always be sent to a lab for confirmation.4
Where Can Cocaine Be Detected in the Body?
Cocaine can be detected via:
- Blood test
- Hair test
- Saliva test
- Urine test
Determining Factors Of Cocaine Staying In Your System
Cocaine can stay in your system for a long time, but the exact length of time depends on a few factors.
- Test type: Drug tests work by detecting metabolites, which are by products your body produces as it breaks down substances. Some metabolites stay in your system longer than others, so the detection window will depend on which metabolites are tested.
- Health & Pre Existing Conditions: Your current health status also has an effect.
- Drug use history: The more often you consume Cocaine, the longer the detection window.
- How you use it: Cocaine that’s snorted or gummed will remain in your system longer than if you smoked or injected it.
- Genetics: Benzoylecgonine, Cocaine’s primary metabolite, can be stored in fatty tissue. The higher your body fat, the more cocaine metabolites can accumulate in your body.5
Symptoms And Effects Of Cocaine Addiction
Cocaine can pose a variety of implications to both one’s body and mind. It is important to recognize and easily identify what those symptoms are in case you or your loved one is experiencing them. They will be detailed below.
Short Term Side Effects
The short term effects of cocaine include:
- False confidence
- Constricted blood vessels
- Dilated pupils
- Increased body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure
- Bizarre, erratic, and sometimes violent behavior
Medium to Long-Term Side Effects
The medium to long term effects of cocaine include:
- Panic attacks
- Intense mood swings
- Severe addiction
- Heart problems
- Tears and ulcerations in the gut 6
Cocaine Addiction Rehab At Stillwater Behavioral Health
If you or a loved one are experiencing the above side effects and have developed an addiction to cocaine, it is important to consider treatment options. Stillwater Behavioral Health is a private residential facility offering alcohol and substance abuse treatment. Our addiction treatment is client-focused, and our approach is holistic and individualized.
Our goal is to successfully treat individuals suffering from addiction in an authentic, caring, dignified, and consistent manner using proven techniques that deliver measurable results.
We’re able to provide detox, rehabilitation, therapeutic, and aftercare services for patients affected by cocaine misuse. Contact us today to find out more about how we’re able to help you or your loved one reach sobriety and regain autonomy over your lives once more.7