How Long Does Cocaine Stay In Your System?


Are you worried about how long cocaine stays in your system? Perhaps you’re concerned a test may be able to detect cocaine days after you’ve taken it? In this article, we take a look at how long cocaine stays in the system and how various tests detect cocaine differently. 

This article also looks at cocaethylene, a potentially fatal psychoactive substance formed when you mix cocaine with alcohol. We’ll explore how cocaine is metabolised in the body, and how this affects detection times on various tests. 

We will also explore the immediate effects of cocaine, look at how long they last, and how to go about starting a cocaine detox. In this section, we’ll take a look at cocaine addiction, why you might need addiction treatment, and what to expect from a detox. 

If you think you may have a cocaine problem, the following test can help you make an informed decision on treatment.

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Is It Dangerous to Mix Cocaine With Other Drugs?

Mixing any drugs is inherently dangerous, but some combinations can prove more deadly than others. One particularly dangerous combination is mixing alcohol and cocaine together. When mixed in the body, they create a toxic chemical called cocaethylene which can have very harmful effects. 

Cocaethylene

Combining cocaine use with alcohol creates a psychoactive substance known as cocaethylene. It has similar characteristics to cocaine but has a plasma half-life between three and five times that of cocaine. Because it is removed slower from the body compared with cocaine, and therefore the effects are longer lasting, it is a popular choice for drug abuse. 

Unfortunately, however, research has found cocaethylene can result in seizures, liver damage, and a damaged immune function. It’s also between 18 and 25 times more likely to result in immediate death than cocaine use alone. 

How Is Cocaine Metabolised in the Body?

What exactly happens after you take cocaine? First of all, it depends on how you take it. If you take it orally, it takes about 30 minutes to reach the bloodstream. When snorting cocaine, a big dose of cocaine enters the bloodstream via your nose. If you’re smoking cocaine, the cocaine goes into your lungs and is absorbed into the bloodstream. 

Smoking cocaine, snorting cocaine, or taking it orally, the cocaine will eventually enter the brain where it blocks the dopamine transporter, which blocks the removal of dopamine from the synapse. This causes dopamine to accumulate in the synapse, leading to the euphoric rush widely associated with cocaine use.

The cocaine will later reach the liver, which is where it is metabolised. It is broken down by various metabolites; these are substances created when the body is required to break down anything from food, drugs, or its own tissue. The main metabolites responsible for breaking down cocaine are benzoylecgonine and ecgonine methyl ester. These metabolites are present in the urine and can be picked up on a test. 

Factors That Affect Detection Time

Research has shown several factors impact how long cocaine stays in your system, which will influence whether it is detected on a drug test. Factors include: 

  • Dose of cocaine 
  • Frequency of cocaine use
  • Weight 
  • Urine pH
  • Concentration of urine 

If you have a medical condition that impacts how your kidney or liver function, this may also influence how long cocaine stays in your body and the results of a drug test.

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What Are the Immediate Effects of Cocaine?

In the short term, cocaine use can make users feel energised, joyful, enthusiastic, alert, and confident. This can lead to a change in behaviour, and so people who have used cocaine might be more talkative, expressive, and confident, some might become arrogant, intense, agitated, restless, and feel on edge. 

As well as positive feelings, cocaine use can also lead to negative side effects in the short-term too. People who have taken cocaine may experience a fast heartbeat, become uncomfortably hot, feel nauseous or ravenous or become anxious or paranoid.

Cocaine can also increase sexual desire, which is an attraction for some people who abuse cocaine. However, taking cocaine frequently actually negatively impacts sex drive in the long term. 

How Long Does It Take To Feel the Effects?

Cocaine use results in speedy side effects. It is a fast-acting central nervous system stimulant, though the method of use does impact the onset of physiological effects. 

Smoking cocaine or using it intravenously will result in effects felt in seconds, but these wear off quickly. The effects of snorting cocaine will be felt in minutes and could last for up to thirty minutes. Taking cocaine orally is the slowest method, with effects lasting for up to 90 minutes. 

After the initial high, most people experience a crash. This frequently leads to seeking out more cocaine and further substance abuse, which can result in higher tolerance and potential cocaine addiction and cocaine use disorder.

What Are the Risks of Cocaine Use?

While people enjoy the high cocaine provides, it is a dangerous drug and can have devastating consequences on your physical and mental health. Cocaine drug use can lead to:

  • Heart attack 
  • Stroke
  • Cartilage damage to the nose 
  • Chest pain 
  • Ulcers and gangrene  
  • Weight loss
  • Nose bleeds
  • Loss of sense of smell 
  • Depression 
  • Anxiety 
  • Paranoia 
  • Overdose 
  • Death 

How Long Does Cocaine Last?

How long cocaine and its effects last in your system depends on a number of factors including how much cocaine you have taken, how much you weigh and any other concurrent alcohol or substance abuse experienced. 

In general, depending on the method, the initial high from cocaine lasts around 30 minutes. Taken orally it can last longer, and smoking causes effects to last less. The purity of the cocaine and your personal tolerance to the drug will also impact how long you feel the effects of cocaine. 

Factors Affecting How Long Cocaine Stays in Your Body

Factors that affect detection time will also affect how long cocaine stays in your body. These include:

  • Dose of cocaine 
  • Frequency of cocaine use
  • Weight 
  • Urine pH
  • Concentration of urine 

Again, if you have any health issues which impact the functioning of your kidney or liver, this could also impact how long cocaine stays in your body

How Long Is Cocaine Detected in the Body?

As discussed above, after you take cocaine your body sets to work breaking it down using metabolites. These telltale metabolites remain in your body for a while and could be detected by drug tests to find evidence of cocaine use. As a rough estimate, the following tests could detect cocaine over the following timeframes: 

  • Urine test: Wondering how long does cocaine stay in urine? A drug test that uses urine could test positive for cocaine use up to four days after you took cocaine. 
  • Saliva test: A saliva test could test positive for cocaine two days after you took it. 
  • Blood test: A drug test that uses blood could test positive for cocaine up to two days after you took it.
  • Hair test: A drug test that uses hair could test positive for up to 90 days after you took it. 

How Do I Get Cocaine Out of My System?

The only way to remove cocaine from your body is to go through a detox and then avoid further substance abuse.

Cocaine Detox

If you are struggling with substance abuse, suspect you have a cocaine use disorder, and want to take back control of your life, you could benefit from a cocaine detox. If your drug abuse has got to the point that you experience cocaine withdrawal, it’s highly advisable that you detox in a clinical, medically supervised environment.

This is because going through cocaine withdrawal can be unpleasant, and ensuring there is help on hand to keep you safe and as comfortable as possible throughout the withdrawal process will set you up for the best chance of success. 

If your substance abuse has escalated to the point of cocaine addiction, it’s highly likely that you’ll experience withdrawal symptoms when you detox from cocaine. These could include: 

  • Anxiety 
  • Depression 
  • Anger
  • Strong cravings 
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Shivering
  • Exhaustion 

As you can see, going through cocaine withdrawal can be very challenging which can lead to relapse. You can tilt the odds of beating cocaine addiction in your favour by making sure you get the right addiction treatment.

How Long Does Cocaine Withdrawal Last?

Beating cocaine addiction takes time and commitment. But it’s understandable that many people want to know how long it takes to detox from cocaine and gets over the worst of the withdrawal symptoms. To give you a rough idea, it varies from person to person, but typically the detox lasts between a week and ten days. 

How to Cope With Cocaine Detox

Navigating a cocaine detox can be challenging, especially as you face some of the worst withdrawal symptoms and intense cravings. Making sure you are well supported can go a long way in helping you to successfully get through a detox. 

You’ll need to find ways to keep yourself busy, distract yourself from symptoms and build new coping mechanisms. This is something that you can explore in therapy, as what works best will be personalised to you and your needs and interests.

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Cocaine Addiction Treatment Options

If you are struggling with substance abuse and are worried you have a cocaine addiction, you can be reassured that there is help available. While it can be challenging to overcome, you can beat your cocaine addiction and take back control of your life. 

At Castle Craig, we have helped people suffering from cocaine addiction and other substance abuse problems for over 30 years. 

Our cocaine addiction treatment features addiction group therapy, personal therapy, and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). We also offer a range of complementary therapies, balanced meals and a program of regular exercise. If it’s appropriate for your circumstances, we can also offer a medically supervised cocaine detox. 

After the treatment has been completed, we continue to support patients with a two-year continuing care plan with weekly drop-in therapy sessions and teletherapy. You will also be encouraged to join in with further local support, such as Cocaine Anonymous. 

Whether you’re interested in residential rehab with a medically supervised detox, an outpatient treatment program, or even an online alternative, we’d be happy to talk through the options with you. 

Call our 24-hour helpline for a judgment-free chat:  0808 271 7500

References

  1. Andrews P. Cocaethylene toxicity. J Addict Dis. 1997;16(3):75-84. doi: 10.1300/J069v16n03_08. PMID: 9243342.
  2. Kolbrich EA, Barnes AJ, Gorelick DA, Boyd SJ, Cone EJ, Huestis MA. Major and minor metabolites of cocaine in human plasma following controlled subcutaneous cocaine administration. J Anal Toxicol. 2006 Oct;30(8):501-10. doi: 10.1093/jat/30.8.501. PMID: 17132243.

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