The length of time that cocaine is detectable in a person’s body depends on the duration of use, how much is used on average, and the type of drug test. Cocaine and its byproducts can be detected in a few various ways, each of which has differing detection windows following the last use:
- Urine: 2-3 days, possibly up to two weeks in heavy users
- Blood: Up to 2 days
- Saliva: 1-2 days
- Hair follicles: 3 months, maybe longer
Urine tests are the most common method used to detect the presence of cocaine and its metabolites. Blood and saliva tests generally have the narrowest detection windows, while hair follicle tests have the longest.
What Is Cocaine?
Cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant culled from the leaves of the coca plant. It is classified by the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) as a Schedule II substance, indicating that it is believed to have a high potential for abuse and addiction but does have some limited medical uses. Cocaine can be administered intranasally (snorted), intravenously, rubbed onto the gums, or smoked in a rock-like form known as crack.
More on Cocaine Elimination Times
Cocaine is rapidly absorbed after snorting, smoking, or injecting, and is primarily metabolized by enzymes in the liver and blood. Benzoylecgonine is the major cocaine byproduct found in the urine. Depending on the amount used and how frequently, benzoylecgonine can be found in urine for 2-3 hours following the last use.
The term “half-life” refers to the amount of time it takes for half of the amount of a substance to be cleared from the body.
One study found the average half-lives for cocaine in body fluids to be as follows:
- Plasma: 1.5 hours
- Urine: 4.1 hours
- Saliva: 1.2 hour
The study also found that cocaine’s metabolites have a half-life ranging from 14.6-52.4 hours, and suggested that the long-term use of cocaine results in a buildup in the body. This can increase the amount of time that cocaine and its byproducts remain in a person’s system.
Factors That Affect Cocaine’s Detectability
Several factors can influence the length of time it takes for cocaine and its metabolites to be eliminated from the body. These include the following:
- Duration of use
- Average amount used
- The usual method of administration
- Differences in metabolism
- Individual genetic factors
- Type of test used
- Presence of other substances
- Overall health
- Organ function
As noted, urine testing is the most commonly used method to check for cocaine use. It has a broader detection window than either blood or saliva and also grants fast results. Hair testing can detect cocaine for the longest amount of time but is more expensive, and many factors can cause hair testing results to be inaccurate.
Duration of Effects
Some people who abuse cocaine may be worried about the drug being identified on a drug test for employment or legal purposes. Still, others may merely be concerned about how long it will continue to affect them.
The desired effects of cocaine include increased energy, alertness, confidence, and euphoria. Adverse side effects may include the following:
- Anger and irritability
- Decreased appetite
- Convulsions and seizures
- Heart disease
- Heart attack and stroke
- Mood swings
- Sexual dysfunction
- Lung damage if smoked
- HIV or hepatitis if injected
- Nosebleeds, runny nose
- Loss of sense of smell
- Difficulty swallowing
The approximate amount of time that a person will continue to feel the effects of cocaine varies by the method of administration:
- Intravenously = 15-20 minutes
- Inhalation (smoking) = 5-10 minutes
- Intranasal use (snorted) = 15-30 minutes
- Taken orally = 90 minutes
Getting Treatment for Drug Addiction
If you are an active drug or alcohol abuser and are ready to stop using and reclaim your life for good, we urge you to start exploring professional treatment options that are beneficial for the process of recovery.
Treatment approaches for drug addiction include cognitive-behavioral therapy, counseling, and support groups. Many factors underpin and contribute to addiction, and treatment can effectively address these. For example, any co-occurring mental health conditions should also be treated using therapy and medication.
Just Believe Recovery offers medically-assisted detox as well as comprehensive, evidence-based programs in partial hospitalization and outpatient formats. We provide all the therapeutic services and support people need through the recovery process, and we aim to ensure each client receives the tools they need to maintain long-term sobriety and wellness.
If you are ready to break free from the vicious cycle of addiction, contact us today and find out how we can help!