Cocaine Drug Test

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A cocaine screen is designed to determine if the person taking the test has used cocaine recently. There are several reasons a person would be required or asked to take a test, such as for employment or legal purposes. Depending on how the test is administered, they screen for various illicit and prescription drugs, all of which can be detected within a particular time window. If you’ve discovered you’ll be required to take a drug test and are afraid you won’t pass due to cocaine misuse, you are urged to seek professional addiction treatment.

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Why Are Cocaine Drug Tests Administered?

Drug tests are administered for several reasons, the most common being as a condition of employment or routine check while on the job. Drug screens typically look for a variety of drugs, such as opioids, amphetamines, and cannabis.

Reasons for Employee Drug Testing Include the Following: (1)

  • For hiring purposes or as a condition of employment.
  • During employment, as a routine or random check for employees, especially those who work in hazardous environments.
  • To confirm or deny suspected drug use in the workplace.
  • After an employee has an accident at work that could imply mental or physical impairment.
  • To monitor employees with a known substance use disorder who must refrain from drug or alcohol misuse as a condition of their ongoing employment.

Other Causes for Drug Testing Include:

  • Medical testing and diagnostics — An individual may be tested for drug use for medical purposes to help determine the cause of symptoms or in emergencies when a healthcare professional suspects a drug overdose or poisoning.
  • Drug & alcohol treatment testing — Substance misuse treatment programs often test patients for the presence of illicit or prescription drugs and alcohol.
  • Insurance testings — Sometimes, insurance companies ask for drug tests when applying for coverage.
  • Legal testing —  Drug testing can be conducted for legal purposes, such as a criminal investigation or determining if a driver was impaired by drugs while driving. Furthermore, drug tests are often mandated for court-ordered treatment programs or as a term of probation or parole on a routine or random basis.
  • Monitoring for prescription drug misuse — When a patient is taking a prescription drug with a high potential for addiction, such as narcotic painkillers, their health provider may request a drug test to determine the amount of the drug in their system.

Athletic testing — Athletes often must take a drug test to screen for performance-enhancing substances.

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What Do Cocaine Drug Tests Look For?

When a person uses cocaine or another drug, the gastrointestinal tract absorbs and distributes it to the rest of the body. The liver, primarily, and other organs break down cocaine using a metabolic process (referred to as biotransformation) that changes the drug into different chemical compounds known as metabolites. (2) After a certain amount of time, the drug and its metabolites are expelled from the body, mainly through urine. This process happens at different speeds for different drugs.

Cocaine screens check for the presence of cocaine or its metabolites. The primary cocaine metabolite that tests are designed to identify is benzoylecgonine (BE), which can last much longer in the body than cocaine itself. Compared to cocaine itself, which has a half-life of approximately one hour and a urine detection window of less than one day, BE has a half-life of 5.5-7.5 hours and a two-day detection window for urine. (3) For this reason, most drug tests rely on the detection of BE rather than the parent drug. Therefore, if you’ve used cocaine in the last two days, you have a good chance of testing positive if you take a drug test within this window.

What Types of Cocaine Screening Are There?

Drug tests rely on biological samples to detect the presence of substances. There are a few different ways these samples can be collected, including through urine, blood, sweat, hair, and saliva. Detection windows vary based on the sample being collected.

Cocaine Drug Testing Methods Include:

  • Blood — Most often used in emergencies and clinical environments, tests in which blood is drawn can identify the presence of cocaine for up to 48 hours after use.
  • Saliva — Cocaine can be detected in saliva up to 48 hours after use using a mouth swab.
  • Urine — This is the most common test used due to its low cost, and it can detect the cocaine metabolite BE within 48 hours after use. (4)
  • Hair follicle — A hair sample can provide information about substance use over time and may detect cocaine use in the last 90 days or longer after use. This test is not particularly useful, however, for the purpose of determining recent drug use.

What Factors Influence How Long Cocaine Remains in Your System?

Although the detection window associated with each test is the primary determinant of how long cocaine can stay in the body, several other factors can play a role.

Factors That Affect How Long Cocaine Stays in the Body:

  • Amount of cocaine used: the more ingested, the longer it may take to eliminate cocaine and its metabolites from the body.
  • Frequency of use: the more often cocaine is used, the longer it can stay in the body.
  • Method of administration: how the drug is administered (e.g., snorting, smoking, etc.) affects how long cocaine remains present in the body. Snorting and oral use tend to result in the body retaining the drug for more extended periods versus smoking or injecting.
  • Presence of alcohol: Consuming alcohol while using cocaine is associated with the drug remaining in the system for longer than it would without drinking.

Weight and metabolism: higher body fat levels can reduce the speed at which the body eliminates cocaine from the system.[/fusion_text][fusion_text hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” sticky_display=”normal,sticky” animation_direction=”left” animation_speed=”0.3″]

Rapid Testing For Cocaine

Rapid drug tests can quickly reveal if a person is negative for illicit drugs. (5) Compared to lab-based drug tests that can take several days, rapid screening tests can be done in a clinic, office, or at home, and negative results can be revealed within minutes. Urine specimens are most often used for this purpose.

If the test is negative, no additional testing may be required. However, because lab tests are more reliable and sensitive, to ensure accuracy, rapid test results that come back “non-negative” should be sent to a lab for confirmation. In some instances, such as for legal purposes, rapid drug test results may not be accepted.

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Guardian Recovery Can Help You Break Free From Cocaine Addiction

Although cocaine elicits euphoric effects that users tend to enjoy, both short- and long-term use comes with a wide variety of physical, mental, and social consequences. In addition to numerous health complications, an inability to pass a cocaine test can result in employment loss, failed job applications, and probation or parole violations. If you’ve been experiencing many adverse effects from cocaine misuse, effective professional help is available.

When you reach out to Guardian Recovery, you can speak to an experienced Treatment Advisor and receive a free, no-obligation assessment and health insurance benefits check. Contact us today to learn more about our streamlined admission process, personalized treatment plans, and therapeutic options to help you overcome cocaine addiction and pursue long-lasting sobriety.


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Disclaimer: Does not guarantee specific treatment outcomes, as individual results may vary. Our services are not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis; please consult a qualified healthcare provider for such matters.

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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave


Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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