How long cocaine stays in a person’s system depends on a variety of factors, including the method of testing (blood, urine, salvia, or hair), the frequency of use, and overall kidney and liver functionality.
Cocaine can stay in a person’s system for as little as two to three days. Heavy cocaine users may have cocaine in their system for up to two weeks.
While hair follicle testing can detect cocaine for months or even years after last use, a heavy user can test positive on a urine test for up to two weeks.
Breaking Down Cocaine Half-Life
It takes the body an average of 75 minutes to eliminate half of one dose of cocaine. No matter how cocaine is ingested (such as by snorting, smoking, or injecting), the drug will end up in the bloodstream.
Cocaine then moves through the liver. In the liver, cocaine is processed into two inactive metabolites (benzoylecgonine and ecgonine methyl ester). Inactive metabolites get excreted from the body, primarily via urine.
A drug’s half-life refers to the length of time it takes for the active substance in a drug to reduce by half in the body. Drug half-life depends heavily on the body’s ability to process and rid itself of the drug.
Depending on the drug, the half-life can last for a few hours to a few days. In some cases, it can even last weeks.
Drug Tests Used to Detect Cocaine
The most common tests used to detect cocaine include the following:
Blood tests involve a sample of blood being taken and tested for cocaine and its metabolites. Blood analysis is most often utilized in scenarios where the individual is suspected of being actively under the influence of cocaine. Blood tests are expensive and require medical personnel, so they aren’t the most popular choice.
Hair tests are the best tests for determining the length and frequency of use. A hair sample is taken and tested in a noninvasive manner. The hair sample tells a story in and of itself of a user’s drug use, frequency, and if and when they discontinued use.
Saliva tests are the least expensive and generally consist of a swab test where saliva is collected from the inner cheek.
Urine tests are conducted by taking a urine sample from the individual and testing it for cocaine metabolites.
How Long Does Cocaine Last in Your System?
|Urine||1–2 days to 2 weeks, depending on use|
|Hair||90 days or longer|
While cocaine can only be detected in the blood for 0.7 to 1.5 hours after use, benzoylecgonine can be measured via blood for anywhere from 5.5 to 7.5 hours.
Blood tests are often used to determine if the individual is currently under the influence of drugs. Due to cost and manpower, blood tests are done far less frequently than urine and saliva testing.
Cocaine can generally be detected via a saliva test for up to 24 hours. Saliva tests are less reliable than other tests, but they are often used due to their cost-effectiveness.
The hair test can detect cocaine use for around 90 days after last use. However, this can be very dependent on the amount of cocaine taken during that time. Some heavy users will test positive on a hair test for months or years after last use.
For light users, cocaine can only be tested in urine for less than one day, but benzoylecgonine can be detected in the urine for one to two days. Heavy users will test positive during a urine test for cocaine for up to two weeks in some cases.
Factors That Determine How Long Cocaine Stays in the System
There are certain factors that can affect how long cocaine stays in the system, including frequency and duration of use, the testing method used to detect cocaine use, the amount used, as well as the body’s ability to flush the drug out of the system.
Signs of Cocaine Abuse You Should Know
Signs of cocaine abuse include increased tolerance to the drug, which results in using the drug more often and in higher amounts. Those who are abusing cocaine may exhibit sudden bursts of energy, paranoia, extreme irritability, and other behavioral symptoms.
Cocaine abuse often manifests itself in drug-seeking behavior, where the individual puts themselves in compromising or even dangerous situations in order to gain access to the drug.
If you or someone you know is abusing cocaine, it’s important to seek professional help as soon as possible before the abuse turns into a cocaine use disorder. If you are already struggling with addiction, know that it is a manageable condition. With the right help, you can successfully stop using cocaine and enjoy a healthier future.
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- A Sensitive Assay for Urinary Cocaine Metabolite Benzoylecgonine Shows More Positive Results and Longer Half‐Lives Than Those Using Traditional Cut‐Offs. (March 2017). Drug Testing and Analysis.