Cocaine is a drug familiar to many. It is an addictive substance that can greatly impact one’s day-to-day life. Moreover, cocaine can linger in the body for several weeks after the last dose, and different types of tests can detect the substance, such as a urine test. This method can detect cocaine in the urine for a week after the last time someone has taken it.
Coca, the primary ingredient in cocaine, has been cultivated in Central and South America has for more than 3000 years. Indigenous populations have long used the stimulant properties of the coca leaf as a natural remedy for ailments including fatigue and altitude sickness. For many years, cocaine was used in the medical setting and widely available across the United States without regulation, including as an ingredient in popular beverages. In the early 20th century, the view on cocaine use changed as people began to realize cocaine had harmful and addictive properties .
Cocaine is a stimulant drug. It acts on the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) to produce feelings of euphoria and energy. Data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)1 in late 2019 indicated almost six million Americans used cocaine in the last year.
In 2018, cocaine was the second most common drug associated with fatalities in the United States. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies cocaine as a Schedule II drug under the Controlled Substances Act. A Schedule II substance has a high potential for abuse and has an accepted medical use in the United States. Cocaine is known by several other names, including blow, crack, snow, flake, and coca.2
The effects of cocaine are intense yet short-lived, which often brings people back for more frequent and more substantial doses as they continue to seek the “high” they first felt when taking the drug. The short duration of effects continues to bring people back for time again to use cocaine. Someone addicted to cocaine becomes addicted to how they “feel” when they are high.
Unfortunately, they must continue to use more often and in larger doses to maintain the effects of cocaine on their brain. Continued use leads to tolerance and dependence. In many cases, dependence also leads to harmful and sometimes irreversible effects on the body.
The effects and duration of different drugs will vary depending on several factors.3 In some cases, traces of a drug will vanish after only a few hours. However, others may last for weeks or months.
The amount of the drug in your system also plays a role in detection. The more of a drug you take contributes to how long your body needs to process the drugs out. This aspect also factors into the frequency of use.
When someone uses cocaine frequently, the body cannot process out the first cocaine dose before another is introduced, which can lead to higher levels of the substance in the body fluids.
The drug’s half-life is an indicator of how long the drug remains active or detectable. Some drugs have a long half-life, whereas others are very short. The half-life of cocaine varies from just over three hours to approximately five hours.
The size of a person impacts the effects of drugs. Smaller people or those with lower body fat will be more sensitive to drugs than individuals with a larger body mass or higher body fat content.
Each person metabolizes substances at a different rate. Many factors determine how quickly you can metabolize drugs out of your system.
Cocaine is the fine powder produced by processing coca leaves. Snorting cocaine is the most common form of use; however, it can be used in other ways. Cocaine can also be smoked or mixed with liquid and injected (intravenous use). In some cases, cocaine is rubbed onto the gums (taken orally).
Depending on the individual and the cocaine dose, it may be possible to detect cocaine in your system for one to fourteen days.4 Nevertheless, how long cocaine can be detected in a drug test will vary. In general, cocaine has a half-life of three to five hours. Again, this factor depends on the individual and the cocaine dose. Depending on the type of drug test (urine, saliva, hair, blood), cocaine may be detectable for up to three months.
In general, a drug test can find cocaine in the urine for up to four days. Factors including body mass, cocaine dose, and frequency of use will all play a role in how long a drug test will detect cocaine in the urine. Other aspects that may affect a urine drug test for cocaine include the urine pH (certain pH levels affect how quickly cocaine is excreted) and the concentration of your urine.
The effects of cocaine are quickly felt regardless of how it is used. Likewise, the length of time cocaine stays in the system will vary depending on various factors, several of which are listed above.5 In addition to using drug tests to check for cocaine in the urine, the drug is also detectable in other body fluids and the hair. Cocaine in the urine is detectable for up to four days. Drug tests will generally detect it in the blood and saliva for up to two days. Cocaine remains present in the hair follicle for up to three months.
Drug tests for cocaine in the urine will produce different results based on a variety of factors unique to the person. Long-term cocaine addiction can have significant, harmful impacts on the body. To successfully defeat a cocaine addiction, it is essential to find a treatment center specializing in cocaine addiction treatment. With the proper support in the right environment, recovery is possible.