How Long Does Cocaine Stay In Your System?

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Cocaine is a drug that is within the class of drugs known as stimulants. (1) Stimulants work by increasing activity in the central nervous system, or the brain and spinal cord. (2) Cocaine is addictive due to the feelings that it can elicit, making it a recreational drug that individuals often misuse. In 2020, 5.2 million individuals, ages 12 years and older, used cocaine within a 12 month period. (3) With 1.3 million individuals being diagnosed with cocaine use disorder in 2020, awareness of its addictive properties is imperative. (4)

Cocaine use disorder is developed when an individual continues to engage in cocaine use despite the negative cognitive, behavioral, and physical problems that continued use produces. Cocaine use can lead to social, occupational, and emotional impairments. If you suspect that you or a loved one is experiencing cocaine use disorder, treatment may be required for physical and psychological wellness. Guardian Recovery provides intervention and therapeutic services to aid you in overcoming substance use. With cocaine specific detoxification services, we will help you develop the necessary tools to maintain sobriety. Contact us today to learn more information regarding our services.

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Methods of Use & Metabolization of Cocaine in the Human Body

Cocaine can be ingested into the body in various different ways. Methods of use include snorting, smoking, oral ingestions, and intravenous injections. Once ingested, cocaine is absorbed into the bloodstream. Cocaine is metabolized in the blood and liver by enzymes in the body.

The Half-Life of Cocaine in the Body

The half-life of a drug refers to the amount of time that it takes for the substance to be reduced by half in the body. Cocaine has a half-life of 0.7-1.5 hours. (5) Though, chronic and excessive cocaine use may lead to cocaine remaining in the body for longer periods of time.

Factors That Influence Cocaine Detection & Length of Duration in Your System

Many individuals may ask themselves how long does cocaine stay in their system, and how long may they continue to be affected by it. Different factors determine the timeframe in which cocaine remains in the body. A study found that chronic cocaine use can lead to a buildup of cocaine in the body. (6) This buildup increases the length of duration of cocaine in one’s system.

Factors that influence how long cocaine remains in your body include:

  • The duration of time that cocaine has been used.
  • How much cocaine was ingested into the body.
  • The last time that cocaine was ingested.
  • Metabolism.
  • Body weight and body mass.
  • Method of use.
  • Current kidney health.
  • Current liver health.
  • If the individual engages in alcohol use.

Combining alcohol and cocaine can be dangerous. Mixing these two substances can lead to negative health effects and can increase the amount of time that cocaine remains in the body. The presence of other substances and the purity of the substance can also increase the time in which cocaine stays in your system.

How Long Does Cocaine Remain in Your Body

The amount of time that cocaine remains in different areas of the body can vary. Detection windows vary depending on how one is tested.

Cocaine in Your Saliva

Cocaine can be detected for 1-2 days after use on the saliva. Taking repeated doses can increase the amount of time that it takes for the body to metabolize the substance. Saliva tests are often less invasive than other forms of testing for cocaine.

Cocaine Presence in the Bloodstream

Cocaine can remain in the bloodstream for up to 12 hours. Cocaine metabolites, or substances produced in the body after cocaine use, can be present for up to 48 hours in the bloodstream.

Length of Duration in Your Hair

Metabolites of cocaine remain in the hair for the longest period of time. Cocaine can be detected in hair follicles for months after past use. The exact duration depends on the length of time that the substance was used. A study found that cocaine was able to be detected 6 months after last use. (7)

Cocaine in Urine

A metabolite produced during cocaine use is benzoylecgonine. (8) Benzoylecgonine is often found in the urine following cocaine use. Benzoylecgonine is detected in the body approximately 2-3 days after last use. Cocaine may be detected for weeks after last use for heavy users of the drug.

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How Long Do The Effects of Cocaine in the System Last?

Once used, the effects of cocaine are often brief. Different methods of use determine how long the effects of cocaine lasts. The effects of cocaine after smoking and intravenous injections last for approximately 20 minutes. Effects after snorting cocaine can last from 45 to 90 minutes. Effects after oral ingestions can last for approximately 90 minutes. Due to the effects only lasting for brief periods, many individuals may ingest multiple doses of cocaine in order to sustain a longer high. Once cocaine leaves your system, unpleasant symptoms may begin.

Possible Short-Term & Long-Term Effects of Cocaine Use

The effects of cocaine can still be present even after cocaine has left your system. There are both short-term and long-term side effects of cocaine use. Side effects can be both physical and psychological. Being able to identify these side effects can help you in knowing what to do if you or a loved one experience any of them.

Short-term side effects associated with cocaine use may include: (9)

  • Dilated pupils.
  • Constricted blood vessels.
  • Increased body temperature.
  • Increased blood pressure.
  • Increased heart rate.
  • Muscle contractions.
  • Restlessness.
  • Anxiety.
  • Paranoia.
  • Vertigo.
  • Tremors.

Long-term negative side effects of cocaine may include: (10)

  • Inability to experience pleasure or anhedonia.
  • Cognitive impairments.
  • Damage to blood vessels.
  • Lung damage.
  • Organ failure.
  • Weight loss.
  • Impairments in the brain.
  • Risk of stroke and seizure.
  • Death.

Cocaine use can be fatal, with 19, 447 individuals losing their lives due to cocaine related overdoses in 2020. (11)

Cocaine withdrawal is an unpleasant side effect for those who stop using cocaine after daily or chronic use. Withdrawal can begin as little as 12 hours after last use and can last for weeks.

Symptoms of cocaine withdrawal may include:

  • Mood swings and irritability.
  • Excessive fatigue and tiredness.
  • Restlessness.
  • Lack of motivation.
  • Insomnia.
  • Increased appetite.
  • Intense cravings.
  • Physical discomfort.
  • Depression.
  • Suicidal ideation.

Cocaine withdrawal is extremely uncomfortable and treatment is necessary if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms. Different levels of care, such as residential, partial hospitalization, and intensive outpatient are available here at Guardian Recovery. Dual diagnosis treatment is provided for those experiencing cocaine use disorder and a supplemental mental disorder.

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Understanding the basics of addiction can help you both understand and overcome substance dependency. Guardian Recovery offers psychoeducation and life skills classes to help you develop an understanding and coping strategies to combat addiction. Here, we provide intensive psychotherapy and individualized treatment for those experiencing cocaine use disorder. Once you contact us, a Treatment Advisor will guide you throughout the admissions process. A no obligation, insurance benefits check can be provided for those who request one. Reach out today to begin your recovery journey.

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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.

  1. https://www.britannica.com/science/stimulant
  2. https://www.britannica.com/science/central-nervous-system
  3. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/what-scope-cocaine-use-in-united-states#:~:text=In%202022%2C%20an%20estimated%200.5,in%20the%20past%2012%20months.
  4. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/what-scope-cocaine-use-in-united-states#:~:text=In%202022%2C%20an%20estimated%200.5,in%20the%20past%2012%20months.
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11043648/
  6. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/what-are-long-term-effects-cocaine-use
  7. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0263338
  8. https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/O-Benzoylecgonine
  9. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/what-are-short-term-effects-cocaine-use
  10. https://www.aruplab.com/files/resources/pain-management/DrugAnalytesPlasmaUrine.pdf
  11. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/what-scope-cocaine-use-in-united-states#:~:text=In%202022%2C%20an%20estimated%200.5,in%20the%20past%2012%20months.

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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave

L.M.H.C.

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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