How Long Cocaine Stays in Your System

It is almost impossible to determine an exact timeframe that cocaine (coke, crack, flake, rocks, snow) will show up on a drug test. How long cocaine stays in the system depends on many variables, including someone's metabolism, body mass, age, hydration level, and other factors. Furthermore, the various kinds of screening tests that can be used—blood, saliva, urine or hair—have different windows of time in which they can detect the drug. These can range from 24 hours to up to three months.

Cocaine Detection Windows

Most drug tests required by employers or others will screen for cocaine use. The following is an estimated range of times, or detection windows, during which cocaine can be picked up by various testing methods.

Detection Times for Cocaine

  • Blood test: Up to 24 hours
  • Saliva test: One to 2 days
  • Urine test: One to 3 days
  • Hair follicle test: Up to 90 days

Cocaine itself is metabolized in the body 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 is.

There are several factors that can cause benzoylecgonine to be detectable in the system for much longer than other drugs, like heroin, for example.

Factors Affecting Excretion

The more cocaine you use per session, the longer benzoylecgonine 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 the metabolite is eliminated from the body.

Other factors that can cause benzoylecgonine to linger include:

  • Drinking alcohol: Alcohol can "bind" cocaine and impede its excretion.
  • Being overweight: Benzoylecgonine can be stored in fatty tissue.
  • Being inactive: Cocaine is excreted faster in active people with a better metabolism rate.
  • Not drinking water: Water can speed up the excretion of cocaine metabolites.
  • Too much caffeine: Caffeine can also impede the excretion of cocaine.
  • Chronic use: Cocaine accumulates in the body, so the more you use, the longer it takes to be excreted.

The Risks of Cocaine Intoxication

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.

Often, cocaine sold on the street is cut with other substances that can cause their own set of symptoms as well.

Ways to Rid the Body of Cocaine

If you are concerned about having too much cocaine in your system or testing positive for the drug, consider seeking help.

Many websites claim that there are immediate ways to try and "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, but none of these claims have been substantiated under scientific conditions.

For more chronic cocaine users, 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 highly recommended. Finally, joining a support group is more likely to decrease your chances of a relapse.

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