How Long Does Cocaine Stay In Your System?
Cocaine is a popular stimulant drug touted for its confidence-boosting abilities, influencing people’s ability to socialize and their sense of self-esteem. It also delivers a strong high, making it an incredibly addictive drug. This euphoric feeling, however, doesn’t last for long. With time, this feel-good feeling will slowly be replaced with intense cravings and a ‘need’ for cocaine – in other words, you’ll start to form an addiction.
In this blog, we’ll be exploring the effects of cocaine abuse on the body and how long the drug stays within your system.
What is Cocaine?
Classified as a stimulant drug, cocaine is often associated with high levels of drug abuse and can be extremely dangerous. It can be injected, snorted, or smoked – all of which can cause you to develop a high tolerance and addiction to the drug. Despite the obvious dangers, cocaine is extremely addictive – feelings of confidence can help make a person feel more sociable and connected to those around them.
Once cocaine is broken down, it’s metabolized into a chemical known as ecgonine methyl ester (EME). After this, enzymes further break down cocaine into another chemical called benzoylecgonine – the number one chemical that drug tests look out for when trying to detect the presence of cocaine metabolites. This chemical can also be responsible for cases of overdose and deaths related to cocaine use, especially if the user has ingested large amounts of the drug.
Some of the most common side-effects of cocaine also include:
- Increased heart rate and blood pressure
- Dilated pupils
- Feeling energetic and confident
- High blood pressure
Known to produce feelings of euphoria and enhance confidence, it’s not difficult to understand why cocaine has such a grip over users. It’s important to remember, however, that this euphoric ‘high’ doesn’t last forever. Within fifteen to thirty minutes, you experience what’s known as a ‘comedown’ (the body’s reaction to stabilizing after taking cocaine). With this, you can experience feelings of paranoia, restlessness, and anxiety. These after-effects can last for days, having a serious impact on your mental health and putting you at increased risk for overdose.
Despite this, cocaine addiction can be overcome and recovery can be achieved – you just have to do it the right way. While quitting cold turkey may seem like the easiest solution, it’s actually the most dangerous. Not only will you be up against withdrawal, but you’ll also have to deal with uncomfortable physical, mental, and emotional side effects (some of which can even result in death).
Signs of Cocaine Addiction
Though everyone will experience drug abuse differently, there are a few common signs and symptoms to look our for, including:
- An inability to control your cocaine use
- Increasing your dosage to get the same effect
- Getting withdrawal once you quit cocaine cold-turkey
- Pushing loved ones away to continue your drug addiction.
Physical and psychological symptoms of cocaine addiction also include:
- Acting impulsively
- Mood swings (being confident and excited one day and depressed and sad the next)
- Stealing money or secretive behavior
- Regular nosebleeds
- Excessive sweating
- Cognitive dysfunction (delayed motor response times).
- Unexplained eight loss
Owning up to addiction isn’t easy – you’ll have to face your drug abuse head-on and come face-to-face with your triggers. Though daunting, it’s important to remember that seeking help is the first step to recovery – and addiction treatment will give you an opportunity to detox safely from cocaine and start making positive changes in your own life. Treatment clinics cater to a wide range of lifestyles and budgets, so there’s something to suit everyone.
Complications and Long-term Side-effects of Cocaine Abuse
As with any kind of drug addiction, long-term substance abuse will end up having a significant impact on both your physical and mental health. Though taking a look at the long-term side effects and complications of cocaine abuse can be scary, it’s important to open up your eyes to the dangers of long-term drug use.
Though everyone’s experience with cocaine will be different, there are a few common side effects that can occur with sustained abuse. This includes:
- Blood clots and heart attacks
- Torn or damaged septums (particularly for users who snort cocaine)
- Angina (chest pain)
- Myocardial infection
- Arrhythmia (irregular heart rate)
- Upper respiratory problems and infections
- Chronic cough
- Shrinking of the brain
- Liver damage
- Kidney damage
- Gastrointestinal damage
What Is a Drug Test?
Simply put, drug tests search for the presence of drugs in your system. They’re common in the lead-up to a new job or at work, and are used a lot by police to determine whether someone is fit to drive.
Some of the most common drug screenings include:
- Urine tests
The most common type of drug test, urine tests can detect cocaine metabolites up to two to three weeks after the initial dosage. The idea behind urine tests is that once cocaine is absorbed into the bloodstream, it’s excreted out of the body via the urinary tract (and trace amounts of cocaine will be found in urine).
- Hair tests
It might sound strange, but drugs can be traced by analyzing a person’s hair. Once cocaine enters your body, it’s absorbed into the bloodstream and travels around the body – leaving trace amounts within your hair follicle. False positives are common with hair tests, but this risk can be eliminated by washing a hair sample thoroughly before testing.
- Saliva tests
Since salvia tests are taken in view of a healthcare provider or medical professional, they’re one of the most popular and accurate drug testing options available. Nothing can be tampered with – something that often happens with urine and hair tests. During a salvia test, the inside of the cheek is swabbed with a sponge and analyzed for trace amounts of cocaine.
- Blood tests
Blood tests are taken via injection and only used if cocaine abuse is highly suspected.
How Long Does Cocaine Stay In Your System?
To answer the question, ‘how long does cocaine stay in your system,’ you first have to understand how it’s absorbed into the blood. Once you ingest cocaine, the body breaks it down into chemicals known as metabolites. These cocaine metabolites are byproducts of your body’s reaction to metabolizing and processing cocaine. Drug tests work by analyzing samples – such as salvia, urine, or blood, to see whether any cocaine metabolites are present. If they are, it’s highly likely the individual has taken cocaine recently. Drug tests all have their own unique window of time which determines how soon they can detect cocaine after it’s been ingested.
Cocaine Drug Tests
- Urine test
A urine test can detect cocaine metabolites up to four days after taking the drug and involves analyzing a sample of your urine.
- Salvia test
Saliva tests can detect the presence of cocaine up to two days after taking the drug.
- Hair test
Hair tests can detect metabolites up to 90 days after taking cocaine.
- Blood test
A blood or saliva test is similar in the sense that cocaine metabolites typically show up two days after taking the drug.
Cocaine has an average half-life of anywhere between three to five hours – this is how long it takes for the drug to be flushed out of your body. In this aspect, cocaine generally has a short half-life compared to most drugs. Though this gives an idea of how long cocaine can stay in your system, there are other factors that can influence whether you test positive or negative.
Factors That Influence How Long Cocaine Stays in Your System
Alongside cocaine’s half-life, there are other factors at play that can impact a drug test’s ability to pick up the presence of cocaine metabolites.
These influencing factors include:
The bigger your weight and overall BMI, the longer it will take for cocaine to flush out of your system.
If you’ve been mixing cocaine with other drugs, it will likely stay in your body much longer than average. This is especially true if you’ve been drinking alcohol. If alcohol and cocaine are combined, a new chemical metabolite known as cocaethylene will be produced – a combination that, in turn, increases the half-life of cocaine.
How you take cocaine has an impact on how long it stays within your system. Snorting cocaine will cause it to stay longer within your system than injecting or smoking it, and the more regularly you take cocaine – and your dosage level – will also impact how long it stays within your system. It’s also important to note that recent cocaine exposure – a few hours before a drug test – will increase the chances of cocaine metabolites being detected.
Those who suffer from liver damage will have a more difficult time flushing cocaine out of their system. An organ responsible for flushing out toxins and waste, the liver is a central organ involved in the body’s process of getting drugs out of your system. This means that any damage to the liver will have a significant impact on its ability to function properly.
There’s no ‘bet’ that you’ll be able to flush cocaine out your system faster than normal and some methods may even be dangerous. To help you, rehab clinics offer a wide range of cocaine addiction treatment to help you take your first steps to recovery.
Treatment for Cocaine Addiction
There are typically four stages to cocaine addiction treatment, including medical evaluation, detox, withdrawal and medication, and aftercare.
The very first stage of cocaine addiction treatment is a medical evaluation – when a healthcare provider will ask you a few questions about your medical history and mental health. This will enable them to draw up a personalized treatment plan that suits your needs exactly.
Withdrawal and medication
The second stage of detox will involve a nurse weaning your body off of cocaine gradually. This will result in withdrawal which, although uncomfortable, is your body’s normal reaction to coming off drugs.
Once you’ve finished detoxing, you’ll continue to receive 24/7 care to support you on your ongoing recovery journey. Though underrated, this is often the most critical component of addiction recovery treatment and can determine whether someone stays in the path to sobriety or relapses.
Taking that first step into addiction treatment isn’t easy – you may be scared or apprehensive. Try seeking out a support group that can help you manage your feelings and give you the chance to build up a solid support network.
Cocaine Addiction Treatment at Ebb Tide
Here at Ebb Tide, we’re dedicated to helping you take your first steps to recovery. Recovering from substance abuse ma not happen overnight, but we’re here to make your journey as smooth and comfortable as possible. Everybody has a right to treatment, so all our treatment options are designed to be inclusive – taking every kind of lifestyle and budget into mind. Whether you need inpatient or outpatient treatment, our team will do their best to find the right kind of program for you and your needs.
Are you ready to take the first step to recovery? Our care team is here to answer any questions you might have and walk you through the admissions process.