Substance Use

How Long Does Cocaine Stay in Your System?

Lab Sample of urine for cocaine drug use

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Cocaine Drug Tests and Duration: What to Expect

People from different backgrounds and age groups use cocaine. Many of them are unaware of the immediate dangers and risk of addiction that come with using the drug. Cocaine, a powerful and addictive stimulant drug, is often mixed with other types of drugs on the street. People may also use dangerous and life-threatening drugs like fentanyl to cut cocaine.

With continued use, people often become less sensitive to cocaine. They need to take larger amounts more frequently to feel the same high. Although the amount someone uses over time increases, the human body cannot metabolize the drug any more rapidly.

While they may experience different effects in terms of the strength and frequency of those effects, drug tests will still be able to detect the drug for a set amount of time. Results vary depending on the type of drug test used.

With that in mind, you may wonder: How long does coke stay in your system? How long does it take for cocaine to wear off?

Since cocaine metabolizes rather quickly, a user may no longer feel the effects of cocaine hours after taking it. The drug can be detectable for days in urine and for months in hair. 

Some of the greatest determinants for how long cocaine stays in someone’s system depend on factors including:

  • The amount of cocaine initially taken 
  • How often you use cocaine
  • The drug screen method
  • Whether you mixed cocaine with other substances 

Cocaine is one of the most addictive drugs around. Researchers continue to unravel the effects of cocaine, focusing on how it is metabolized and how it affects the body.

This shows how cocaine affects bodily systems and influences how long the drug remains in your system.

Have concerns or questions about cocaine abuse? Call us at (855) 430-9439.

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How Is Cocaine Detected on Drug Tests?

Those aware that a drug test is pending often wonder, “How long does cocaine stay in your body?” and “What tests can detect this drug?”

There are several ways to administer a cocaine drug test. These tests are used to find out whether someone has recently used cocaine, even in small amounts.

People are tested for cocaine for different reasons, like legal or medical purposes. Drug tests are often conducted during treatment. This helps ensure someone is not using and helps determine when full detoxification from cocaine is complete.

A person is not completely detoxed until blood tests no longer show traces of cocaine left in their system.

When testing for cocaine use, the tests usually detect a major metabolite of the drug called benzoylecgonine. This metabolite is present in the body longer than cocaine itself, which is why benzoylecgonine is commonly used as a cocaine marker when aiming to diagnose a cocaine addiction. 

Purity levels of cocaine will also affect test results. Since cocaine often combines with other contaminants, detection times may vary.

It’s also important to note that fatty tissue can store benzoylecgonine. The more body fat you have, the more cocaine can accumulate in your body.

However, chronic cocaine users are often underweight because of a reduction in appetite. That is why, in treatment, healthy eating is important. Proper nutrition is part of a more holistic treatment plan to improve the body and mind. 

Healthcare providers administer lab tests when they need a more sensitive and reliable test. You should always send positive results to a lab to confirm accuracy.

How Long Does Cocaine Stay in Urine?

The most common method is a urine sample. In this case, tests can detect the metabolites of cocaine two to three days after you stop using it. Test results may be positive for up to two weeks after use in heavy or chronic users.

However, studies show that if the cut-off concentration levels are lowered, tests can detect cocaine metabolites between 17 and 22 days after use.

How Long Does Cocaine Stay in Saliva?

Saliva testing is also increasing in popularity, as it is easier and less intrusive. Cocaine and its metabolites will only be detectable for one to two days after use.

How Long Does Cocaine Stay in Blood?

Blood samples may be taken in select situations, particularly when someone is in the hospital and blood work is already being taken. However, the detection window is short, as blood only holds cocaine for approximately 12 hours and its major metabolite for around 48 hours.

How Long Does Cocaine Stay in Hair?

Although available, the two least common tests are hair and sweat tests. Hair testing can potentially detect cocaine for months after use, but this process is complicated and not the most accurate. Depending on where the hair sample is taken, results vary.

The same is true with a sweat test, as results vary and are not always accurate. 

What Are the Side Effects of Cocaine?

The effects of cocaine, whether they’re acute or chronic, can affect nearly every organ system. 

Mixing cocaine with other substances can alter its effects. Sadly, cocaine toxicity results in over half a million emergency room visits each year. Cocaine is involved in almost one in five overdose deaths according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Levels of dopamine increase in the brain after someone uses cocaine. Dopamine is a brain chemical related to movement and reward.

As dopamine builds up, this flood of dopamine reinforces drug-taking behavior. Other brain chemicals, like norepinephrine, also play a role. 

Aside from alcohol, the effects of cocaine are the most common cause of drug-related emergency department visits in the United States. Mixing cocaine with other substances can cause cocaine toxicity. In other cases, withdrawal effects of cocaine following a cocaine binge may result in an emergency department visit.

Abusing cocaine affects several brain chemicals and channels. The primary effect of cocaine is the blockade of norepinephrine reuptake.

As levels increase, users feel more:

  • Alert
  • Aroused
  • Vigilant
  • Focused

Some may experience aggressive behavior or high blood pressure. Serotonin and dopamine levels also increase. These brain chemicals influence how we experience pleasure, reward, and motivation. 

Cocaine can create a unique experience depending on the user.

You could feel:

  • Energized
  • More alert
  • Anxious
  • Paranoid

Factors such as mental health and the surroundings in which someone is using can influence this. 

Cocaine can cause psychosis in individuals predisposed to psychotic thoughts. In this case, users often take more drugs to help cope with their diminishing overall health, creating a vicious cycle.

The method of use determines how rapidly someone experiences the effects of cocaine. Onset times differ, and peak effect times vary depending on these methods.

How Long Does it Take for Cocaine Effects to Wear Off?

Overall, the high from cocaine is fairly short-lived

  • When inhaled, the onset takes approximately 7 seconds. The peak effect hits between 1-5 minutes, with effects lasting around 5-10 minutes. 
  • When injected, the onset takes approximately 15 seconds. The peak effect hits between 3-5 minutes, with effects lasting around 20-30 minutes.
  • When snorted, the onset takes approximately 3 minutes. The peak effect hits in 15 minutes, with effects lasting around 15-30 minutes. 
  • When ingested orally, the onset takes approximately 10 minutes. The peak effect hits in 60 minutes, with effects lasting around 60 minutes. 

Long-term cocaine users may take a dose every 10 minutes. They may binge for up to seven days, consuming as much as 10 grams daily. This is when the effects of withdrawal become a significant concern. 

How Is Cocaine Metabolized in the Body?

When aiming to answer the question, “How long does cocaine stay in your body?” you must dive deeper into how this drug is metabolized. 

The method of use determines how cocaine is metabolized and how quickly it occurs. 

When you inject cocaine, all of the substance enters the circulatory system. When you ingest or inhale cocaine, this amount lowers just 20-30%. When you inject cocaine, 80-90% of the cocaine administered is rapidly metabolized. 

Metabolized cocaine affects several enzymes. Approximately 30-50% of cocaine is metabolized by hepatic esterases and plasma pseudocholinesterase (both enzymes are produced in the liver).

These enzymes break cocaine down into a water-soluble metabolite. Another 30-40% is broken down into benzoylecgonine, which can induce seizures and be detected for hours to days following the last use. 

Another 1-5% leaves the body unaltered through the kidneys within six hours of use. 

The Latest Research on How Cocaine is Metabolized

Researchers are developing a new enzyme that breaks down cocaine faster than the body can. This enzyme is a thousand times more effective at turning cocaine into harmless substances.

This enzyme could be a thousand times more effective at breaking down cocaine into harmless substances. This engineered enzyme, called CocE, was of particular interest for potential clinical use. 

This research aimed to help reduce the damage that cocaine toxicity can cause while it continues to break down in the hospital. Emergency medical personnel can only treat life-threatening symptoms. This is because of cocaine’s complex mechanism of action.

Ten years later, this research continues. During detox, healthcare providers give medications to help people feel better and support their mental health. 

Half of the cocaine taken is metabolized within 12 hours after first use. This is because cocaine’s half-life is just that, 12 hours.

After that, cocaine metabolites will continue to break down in 50% increments over 12-hour periods. So, by 24 hours, 25% more is metabolized.

Cocaine Detox and Treatment Programs at Zinnia Health

Whether you or your loved one require support, cocaine is a highly addictive substance that can be challenging to treat. 

The first step toward sobriety is the detoxification process. If you are addicted to cocaine, the withdrawal symptoms can be overwhelming.

From paranoia to tremors, depression to strong cravings, the initial symptoms are often enough for someone to continue using.

People know this as as the acute phase of cocaine withdrawal, which can last anywhere from one week up to ten weeks. Symptoms become less severe and often include intermittent cravings to use, which ongoing treatment addresses.

Medical cocaine detox makes you as comfortable as possible to get through the initial stage of treatment. The true healing and treatment process begins once the body rids itself of cocaine.

What treatment looks like differs for each person. No two individuals are identical, and each person requires specialized holistic care. 

Cocaine addiction is often complex. In many cases, overlapping mental health issues fuel one’s addiction, which then worsens symptoms of poor mental health. Cocaine also affects areas in the brain that are key to memory.

This helps us recall where pleasurable experiences come from. Understanding and overcoming triggers are so important to one’s ongoing success.

Just seeing a photo, visiting a place, or spending time with certain people can trigger and make you want to use again.

A wide range of therapy and holistic treatment options and ongoing support ensure success — even post-treatment. Achieving and maintaining sobriety is a life-long commitment, one that takes time.

At Zinnia Health, we focus on each step of the recovery process to ensure the highest possible success rates. We offer highly trained professionals and medical supervision.

Our clients have the best possible opportunity to overcome their substance use disorder.

Are you or your loved one ready to take the next critical step to overcome addiction? If so, Zinnia Health is here for you. Please contact us online or call (855) 430-9439 to discuss your unique needs or concerns. 

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