How Long Does Cocaine Stay in Your System?

Cocaine in Your Blood, Urine, Hair, & Saliva

In This Article

It is almost impossible to determine an exact timeframe that cocaine (also known as coke, crack, flake, rocks, and snow) will show up on a drug test. How long cocaine stays in the system depends on many variables, including a person's metabolism, body mass, age, hydration level, and other factors.

The various kinds of screening tests that can be used—blood, saliva, urine, or hair follicle—also have different windows of time in which they can detect the drug. These can range from 24 hours to up to three months.

Cocaine is a Schedule II controlled substance, which means it is illegal in the United States because of its high potential for misuse and potential for severe psychological or physical dependence.

How Long Does Cocaine Stay in Your System?

Blood: Up to 24 hours

Hair: Up to 90 days

Saliva: Up to 2 days

Urine: Up to 3 days

How Long Does It Take to Feel the Effects?

The method by which cocaine is administered—whether it's smoked, injected, taken orally, or snorted—can affect both the intensity and duration of the high. For example, snorting cocaine can produce a high that lasts up to 30 minutes while smoking cocaine can create a high that lasts up to 10 minutes.

Immediately after cocaine use, you can expect the following physical effects to take place:

  • Blood vessels constrict
  • Pupils dilate
  • Body temperature rises
  • Breathing gets faster
  • Heart rate and blood pressure increases

You’ll also experience a "euphoric high," which can last up to 30 minutes, and make you feel:

  • Hyperstimulated
  • Invincible
  • Mentally alert
  • More talkative
  • Contemplative
  • An increased sex drive
  • A decreased need for sleep

This high is typically immediately followed by a crash that can cause anxiety and tension, depression, agitation, and exhaustion. It's this quick cycle that makes cocaine so addictive. 

How Long Does Cocaine Last?

The half-life of cocaine is about one hour, which means it takes that long to eliminate half of the cocaine from the bloodstream. Cocaine itself is metabolized by enzymes in the liver and blood, and it happens so rapidly that it is not detectable in most screening tests. Those tests actually screen for benzoylecgonine, a metabolite of cocaine that is detectable in the body for a longer period of time than cocaine.

The following is an estimated range of times, or detection windows, during which cocaine can be picked up by various testing methods.

Blood

Blood tests, which are typically done in a hospital setting, can detect cocaine in your blood for 12 hours after use and benzoylecgonine for 48 hours.

Urine

The most common test used, a urine screening can detect cocaine metabolites for up to three days after use. In people who use cocaine heavily, detection times have even been reported for up to two weeks after use.

Saliva

A saliva test uses a special device to extract a sample of saliva from your mouth and deposit it directly into a tube. With these tests, cocaine metabolites can be detected in saliva for up to two days after use.

Hair

Cocaine metabolites can typically be detected in hair follicles for up to three months, however, the results may depend on where the hair sample is taken.

Factors That Affect Detection Time

It is very difficult to determine an exact detection window for how long cocaine can stay in someone's system. The length of time it remains in your body depends on many different factors, including body mass, metabolism, and hydration levels.

Frequency and Potency

The more cocaine you use per session, the longer the benzoylecgonine metabolite remains and can be detected, according to some studies. In addition to the volume and frequency, the purity level of the drug can also affect how quickly benzoylecgonine is eliminated from the body.

Alcohol and Caffeine Consumption

Alcohol can "bind" cocaine and impede its excretion. Similarly, caffeine can also impede the excretion of cocaine.

Body Fat

Benzoylecgonine can be stored in fatty tissue, so if you have higher levels of body fat, the drug can accumulate in that fatty tissue and stay in your system longer.

Physical Activity

Cocaine is excreted faster in people who are active and have a higher metabolic rate.

Hydration

If you're dehydrated, the drug may stay in your system longer. This is because water can speed up the excretion of cocaine metabolites.

How to Get Cocaine Out of Your System

Many websites claim that there are immediate ways to "flush out" your system after cocaine use, such as drinking lots of water, taking a detox pill, eliminating alcohol and caffeine, consuming fresh fruit high in antioxidants, and taking natural herbs. However, none of these claims have been substantiated under scientific conditions.

The only reliable way to get cocaine out of your system is to stop use and allow your body time to metabolize and eliminate it.

Symptoms of Overdose

Using too much cocaine or taking a higher concentration of the drug can result in a condition known as cocaine intoxication, which can produce serious side effects and symptoms.

Symptoms of cocaine intoxication can include:

  • Anxiety and agitation
  • Chest pain or pressure
  • Enlarged pupils
  • Feeling of euphoria
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Sweating
  • Tremors
  • Confusion
  • Hyperactivity and muscle damage
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Kidney damage
  • Seizures
  • Stroke
  • Irregular heartbeats
  • Sudden death

With high doses of cocaine, psychosis and other signs of mental illness—such as depression and manic depression—can occur. Some of these psychiatric systems can occur with any level of cocaine use.

Overdoses can occur unexpectedly, even on the first use, and the risk of overdose can increase if cocaine is combined with other drugs or alcohol. Signs of overdose can include vomiting, tremors, and difficulty breathing.

If you suspect someone has overdosed on cocaine, call 911 immediately.

Getting Help

If you are concerned about having too much cocaine in your system or testing positive for the drug, consider seeking help. For people who use cocaine regularly, a consistent and long-term solution is required, starting with naturally ridding the body of the substance (detoxing) and seeking counseling and medical therapy. Obtaining treatment for mental health conditions such as depression is also highly recommended. Finally, joining a support group is more likely to decrease your chances of a relapse.

If you're unsure where to turn, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) offers an anonymous online treatment locator, or you can call their National Helpline for a referral at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

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Article Sources

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