How Long Does Cocaine Stay in Your System

Cocaine can be detected in the system anywhere from 12 hours to 4 days after use. The length of time cocaine stays in your system depends on the dosage amount ingested, the route of administration and frequency of use.

When cocaine is metabolized, the liver turns it into benzoylecgonine, which is then excreted in urine. This process profoundly affects how long coke stays in the system, as the benzoylecgonine stays in the system much longer than the actual cocaine.

What is Cocaine?

Cocaine, one of the most addictive drugs in existence, comes from nature, though its short and long-term effects promote anything but natural health and well-being. Derived from the leaves of the cocoa plant, cocaine appears as a white powder in its purest form, according to Bryn Mawr College.

Whether smoked, snorted or injected, cocaine produces a short-lived “high,” which further contributes to its addictive properties. Likewise, the length of time cocaine stays in your system is also short-lived, though residues may linger considerably longer within various areas of the body.

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Cocaine Metabolism

Cocaine is a fat-soluble substance, which accounts for its high absorption rate in most every area of the body. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, once ingested, cocaine easily crosses cell membrane surfaces and gains access to –

  • The brain
  • The small airways in the lungs
  • The alveoli of the lung
  • The bloodstream

Consequently, cocaine can accumulate within the central nervous system as well as within the body’s adipose or fat tissues. In effect, the body’s ability to metabolize and store coke has a considerable influence on how long it stays in the system.

Factors Affecting How Long Coke Stays in Your System

How Long Does Cocaine Stay

When snorted, cocaine reaches the blood stream within 3 minutes.

Since cocaine holds an illegal drug status, the quality or purity of the drug marketed on the streets can vary from batch to batch. As a result, some batches may be purer or less pure than others. These differences also affect how long cocaine will stay in your system.

People who’ve used cocaine on a regular basis for months or years may well store cocaine residues throughout the body long after stopping drug use, according to PubMed, which means that it is kept in the system for longer.

Other factors to consider include:

  • Your overall health
  • Your age
  • Your body’s metabolism rate
  • Your tolerance levels
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Routes of Administration

According to the Australia Department of Health, the various routes of administration affect how quickly cocaine reaches the brain as well as how quickly the body absorbs the drug.

Cocaine can be:

  • Injested
  • Snorted
  • Injected

When ingested through the mouth, cocaine materials reach the bloodstream after 30 minutes and hit peak concentration within 50 to 90 minutes. When snorted, cocaine can reach the bloodstream in as soon as three minutes with peak concentration levels occurring in 15 minutes. When injected into the bloodstream, a person feels the drug’s effects within a minute’s time, reaching peak levels within five to 10 minutes. The route of administration also affects how long coke stays in your system.

Peak concentrations of coke in the system:

  • Ingested: 50-90 minutes
  • Snorted: 15 minutes
  • Injected: 5-10 minutes

Half Life of Cocaine

According to the International Programme on Chemical Safety, cocaine’s lipid-like material allows for a quick half-life averaging around 60 minutes.This average time, and thus how long coke stays in your system, can increase considerably in cases of chronic cocaine use considering how the drug’s materials tend to accumulate throughout the body.

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As with most all drugs, the liver metabolizes or breaks down cocaine into metabolites. Once in metabolite form, cocaine can easily lodge inside fat tissue and membrane linings throughout the body. Excess residue materials can also greatly extend the half life of cocaine in the system.

How Do You Test How Long Coke Stays in Your System?

  • Urine
  • Hair and fingernails

According to the University of Rochester, saliva and sweat may also be used to test the level of coke in your system, but these tests are much less common.

Urine Testing

coke in the system

Urine is the most common way of drug testing for cocaine.

Urine tests, also known as immunoassays, look for benzoylecgonine, the primary metabolite that makes up cocaine, according to the NHTSA. A urine test can detect low concentrations of benzoylecgonine during the first few hours after using cocaine.

For people who use the drug on a sporadic basis, benzoylecgonine can remain in the urine for two to four days after using. Coke can be detected in the system for up to 12 days for chronic drug users and those who consume large amounts in a short time period.

In the case of injection use, urine testing can detect metabolites for up to 1.5 five days; however, metabolite materials can show up for as long as one week after snorting or smoking cocaine.

Hair and Fingernails

On average, the body metabolizes and excretes cocaine materials within four hours time. As coke moves through the bloodstream, tiny particles get left behind in the hair and fingernails. These materials will remain in the hair and fingernails until they’re cut away, so someone with long hair will likely carry cocaine residues around for a very long time.

According to Carnegie Melon University, however, hair drug testing is somewhat controversial as it is still unclear whether cosmetic hair treatments and other factors impact results.

Overall, the length of time cocaine stays in the system will likely determine how intense a detox period will be. It will also determine whether it’s “safe” to undergo drug testing, provided the mode of testing uses urine and not hair.

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