Cocaine — informally known as “coke” — is a potent stimulant drug, derived from the coca leaves of a plant native to South America. Cocaine is an addictive drug that’s illegal in the United States. When someone uses cocaine, the effects of the drug occur almost instantly. In small amounts, cocaine can lead to euphoria, increased energy and better mental alertness. Cocaine reduces the need for food and sleep, in many cases. Cocaine also has serious and potentially deadly effects such as an increased risk of heart attack and other cardiac complications.
The effects of cocaine occur quickly, but how long does coke stay in your system? Cocaine is a fast-acting stimulant of the central nervous system. The high is powerful but short, only lasting anywhere from a few minutes to an hour, in many situations. Cocaine has a half-life of around an hour. A half-life of an hour means it takes around an hour for the body to eliminate half the amount of cocaine a person uses. While the half-life is short, cocaine can potentially show up in certain drug screenings much longer.
How Cocaine Is Consumed
How is cocaine used or taken? There are a few, primary ways that people use cocaine. How someone uses the drug impacts the intensity of the effects and how long the high lasts. If someone snorts cocaine, it can take longer to feel high, but the high can last up to 30 minutes. The other way to use cocaine is by smoking it. The high from smoking cocaine is almost immediate but only lasts for 5 to 10 minutes. Cocaine can be consumed via injection after liquifying it, but this method is less common than snorting and smoking the drug.
Detection Times for Cocaine
Detection times for cocaine vary depending on factors including:
- Body mass and weight
- General health
- Hydration level
The type of drug test used can also play a role in cocaine detection time. Cocaine metabolizes quickly, so it’s harder to detect than other substances in most drug screenings. However, cocaine leaves behind metabolites and some screenings may detect them. The metabolite from cocaine is called benzoylecgonine.
Some drug tests may have a detection time of no more than 24 hours, others may detect cocaine up to 90 days after someone uses the drug.
The Half-Life of Cocaine
What is the half-life of cocaine? Half-life is a measurement of how long it takes half the concentration of a substance to be eliminated from the body. It usually takes four to five half-lives for a drug to leave the system completely.
The half-life of cocaine is around one hour, so within four to five hours cocaine may leave the system. That doesn’t mean it can’t be detected in drug tests after this time, since the metabolites it produces may linger for longer.
How Long Does Cocaine Remain in My Hair?
A hair follicle test tends to have the longest detection window for any substance. How long does cocaine stay in your hair? Cocaine can show up in a hair follicle test for up to 90 days, which is consistent with detection times for other substances.
How Long Does Cocaine Remain in My Urine?
How long does cocaine remain in urine? A urine test may detect cocaine use for anywhere from two to 30 days after someone uses the substance. Certain factors that may make cocaine show up longer in a urine test include:
- If someone drinks alcohol when using cocaine, it can cause the metabolite, benzoylecgonine, to stay in their system longer and slow its excretion
- Being overweight can cause benzoylecgonine to stay in the system longer because it is stored in fatty tissue
- If someone is physically inactive, cocaine may show up for longer because it tends to leave the body sooner in people with fast metabolisms
- Not drinking enough water slows the excretion of cocaine, as does having too much caffeine
- The more and the longer someone uses cocaine, the longer it takes their body to eliminate it
Find Help For Cocaine Addiction
Are you or a loved one living with cocaine addiction? If so, contact Orlando Recovery Center. Speak to a knowledgable representative who can discuss treatment options and programs available that cater to the patient’s individual needs. Treatment plans address addiction and co-occurring disorders, providing patients a strong foundation for lasting recovery.
NIH National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Cocaine.” May 2016. Accessed March 1, 2019.
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