Of all the drugs in the world, cocaine is perhaps the most infamous. It frequently appears in movies about gangsters, actors, and singers. By now, people all over the world are familiar with the basic appearance and general effects of cocaine. However, most people don’t know how long this powerful drug stays in the body.
This article outlines the effects of cocaine, describes the intensity and duration of its effects, and answers the burning question: how long does cocaine stay in your system?
Cocaine: What is It?
Cocaine is a white powder derived from the leaf of the coca plant. As a stimulant, cocaine can cause feelings of intense euphoria, energy, and even anxiety. It can also suppress appetite and induce erratic behavior, like random outbursts of anger. The drug is also known for causing increased heart rate, elevating the risk of heart attack and stroke for many users.
Cocaine is always white, but its consistency varies. Sometimes, it appears fine and powdery, like flour. Other times, cocaine is made up of tiny, pebble-like rocks that look more like crystals. In any case, cocaine always has a bitter taste and rotten smell; some batches of the drug even smell like gasoline.
How Long Do the Effects of Cocaine Last?
Although cocaine is a very potent stimulant, the effects of the drug are relatively short-lived. In fact, they can last anywhere from 15 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the “purity” of the cocaine, the amount ingested, and the user.
The purity of cocaine has a large impact on how long the user feels the effects. “Pure” cocaine is rare because it is often cut, or mixed, with other substances to increase the quantity. Naturally, this results in lower concentrations of the drug.
For the most part, cocaine is cut with powdery substances. Typical ingredients include baby powder, aspirin, and laxatives. Still, cocaine can also be cut with other more dangerous substances, like fentanyl or numbing agents.
One of the reasons why cocaine use is so dangerous is that it is impossible to tell what it has been cut with— or if it was cut with anything at all.
While large amounts of substances like fentanyl are life-threatening, it is exceptionally easy to overdose on pure cocaine. Even small amounts of pure cocaine are enough to trigger a heart attack or stroke.
All in all, users won’t know what’s in their batch until they ingest it. At that point, it may be too late.
Gender and Body Weight
The gender and weight of the user can also have a big impact on the effects and longevity of the drug.
For instance, people who have above-average body weight will likely need greater quantities of the drug to feel any of its effects.
Cocaine also has a greater impact on women than on men. In other words, women can more easily get high on cocaine. This is because estradiol, a female hormone, strengthens the drug.
How Long Does Cocaine Stay in Your System?
Although the effects of cocaine only last for a couple of hours at the longest, it remains in your system for much, much longer.
The amount of time that cocaine stays in the body will depend on factors like age, weight, gender, diet, and exercise or activity levels. These and some other factors will affect how long cocaine lingers after the effects have worn off.
However, the most telling factor is the amount of cocaine the user consumes.
Small Amounts Linger for Two to Four Days
However, if you don’t use cocaine often, then it will most likely stay in your system for two to four days after you use it. Cocaine is water-soluble, so it will exit your body through your urine.
Large Amounts Linger for Weeks or Even Months
If you use cocaine regularly, then it may take days or even weeks for it to completely leave your system. Sometimes, like marijuana, cocaine can even remain in your body for months.
This is especially true if you use cocaine every day. Frequent cocaine use leads to byproduct buildup in your system, meaning that it will take a long time for the drug to leave your body via urine.
How Long is Cocaine Detectable in Your System?
No matter how long it takes for cocaine to leave your body, it may still be detectable long after your last dose. This is because, when your body processes cocaine, it releases benzoylecgonine into your blood.
Benzoylecgonine is what companies look for during drug testing. The presence of benzoylecgonine in your system indicates that you took cocaine or something similar. By looking for benzoylecgonine, blood and urine tests are able to detect cocaine weeks after it has left the body.
People who use cocaine all the time will have larger levels of benzoylecgonine in their system than those who rarely use it. In fact, infrequent users typically flush benzoylecgonine from their systems in a matter of a couple of days.
However, there are some drug tests that can detect benzoylecgonine months after the last dose, no matter how much cocaine was taken. These tests usually look for signs of drug use by examining hair samples.
Hair Samples in Drug Testing
The keratin in your hair is a biological record of what was in your body as your hair was growing. When you take any drug, trace amounts of it usually appear in your hair. Sometimes, hair will retain trace amounts of drugs until it falls out or gets cut.
In other words, drug tests that examine hair follicles can detect drugs months after ingestion. So, cocaine can stay in your system for much, much longer than just a couple of days.
Cocaine Addiction Treatment
How long does cocaine stay in your system? Generally, it takes two to four days, but the answer is different for everyone.
Now that you have more information about cocaine, its effects, and how long it stays in your system, you have the knowledge you need to make sure cocaine doesn’t ruin your life like it has for so many others.
McKinnonJon, J., & ADT Healthcare. (2019, June 12). How Long Does Cocaine Stay in Your System? Retrieved from https://www.adt-healthcare.com/blog/post/how-long-cocaine-stay-system/
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2017, August 03). Why Females Are More Sensitive to Cocaine. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/nida-notes/2017/08/why-females-are-more-sensitive-to-cocaine
ScienceDirect. (n.d.). Benzoylecgonine. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/benzoylecgonine
Stein, S. (Ed.). (n.d.). How Long Does Cocaine Stay in Your System If Mixed with Substances? Retrieved from https://lagunatreatment.com/cocaine-abuse/combined-with-other-substances/
WagenerReviewed, D., & Stein, S. (n.d.). How Long Does Cocaine Stay in Your System? (Blood, Urine & Saliva). Retrieved from https://americanaddictioncenters.org/cocaine-treatment/how-long-in-system