How Long Does Cocaine Stay in Your System? A new State Department report notes that cocaine use is soaring in the United States.
Cocaine, a drug sold on the street in two main forms — as a powder for snorting and as crack, a crystal form that is smoked — is a powerful stimulant.
How Long Does Cocaine Last?
The amount of time cocaine stays in your system is dependent on how it’s consumed — snorted or smoked — and if use is heavy or chronic.
Cocaine can also be rubbed on the gums, dissolved and injected, or mixed with heroin and injected (called “speedballing”).
When cocaine is snorted, it produces a 15- to 30-minute high approximately 30 to 40 minutes after it’s taken. Users will feel excited and get a rush of euphoria.
Cocaine can be detected in the blood 30 to 40 minutes after snorting it.
Smoking cocaine causes it to be more rapidly absorbed, so blood concentrations can be detected as soon as five minutes after use. The high itself may only last five to 10 minutes.
For both methods of use, chronic or heavy users will have detectable concentrations of the substance in their urine and blood for longer than occasional or light users.
Cocaine Drug Test — How Hair, Blood, Urine, and Saliva Are Used to Detect Cocaine
The most common cocaine drug test is a urine test, although the drug can be detected in hair, saliva, and blood as well.
The body breaks down cocaine rapidly, with the substance having a half-life of only around six hours.
A half-life means that half of the drug will be excreted in six hours. Half of the remainder will be eliminated in the following six hours, and so on.
Using this formula, a user’s urine will test positive for cocaine for about a day.
However, most laboratories test the blood not only for the presence of cocaine but for its metabolites as well. Metabolites are substances that your body creates as it breaks down the drug.
The primary one of these for cocaine is benzoylecgonine, which can extend the detection time frame to four days after the last known usage of the drug due to a longer half-life.
Cocaine can also be detected in saliva, blood, and hair:
- Urine– 1 to 4 days
- Blood– up to 1 day
- Saliva– 1 to 2 days
- Hair – up to 90 days
Quest Diagnostics, one of the country’s most well-known diagnostic labs, released a report on cocaine in the workforce in 2017.
The report noted that the American workforce tested positive for cocaine at a rate that is the highest it’s been in seven years, with a total of 0.28 percent of employees testing positive.
Detection Limits — How Long Cocaine Stays in the Body
When testing for drug use, many factors determine how long cocaine stays in your urine, blood, and saliva.
Factors that impact detection include:
- Rate of metabolism
- Route of excretion (sweat, urine, etc.)
- Frequency, chronicity, amount, and administration route
- The sensitivity of the test itself
- Users’ fluid intake, overall health, diet, weight, and gender
Obviously, a person who drinks a lot of fluid can remove cocaine from his or her urine faster than a person who is not.
Weight, height, and age, as well as overall metabolism and other individual health factors also impact elimination.
For example, individuals with liver disorders may test positive longer, since the liver is the primary organ by which cocaine is metabolized.
Outside factors, such as the drug’s level of purity and length of use, also affect residual amounts in the body.
Underscoring this, a Johns Hopkins study that dosed men with increasing amounts of cocaine over a period of time found that the longer they took the drug, the less effective their bodies were at eliminating it.
Cocaine Drug Test Accuracy
Tests for cocaine are generally reliable, although there are occasional false positives.
Most often, these occur with hair testing, which has been under scrutiny in recent years.
In 2016, hair testing was struck down as unreliable by the Massachusetts Civil Service Commission board that oversaw the wrongful termination case of six police officers whose hair tested positive for the drug.
The commission argued that hair testing has no national standards and a positive result may be returned from accidental or environmental exposure to cocaine.
Such accidental exposure is not unusual — in 2017, CNN reported that over 80 percent of all cash contains traces of cocaine.
Getting Help for Cocaine Addiction
If you’re concerned about testing positive for cocaine, consider seeking treatment for addiction.
Rehab facilities can provide professional cocaine detox, treatment, therapy, and support while you conquer your addiction.
Dr. Ronaye Calvert-Conley is the CEO and Founder of Revive Detox, a Joint Commission Accredited and Legit Script Certified Addiction Treatment Center in Los Angeles, CA. She earned her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Alliant International University in Los Angeles in 2007 and has extensive experience working in the addiction and recovery field and the LGBT community. To learn more about Dr. Calvert-Conley click here.
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