Cocaine is an illegal stimulant drug that’s very addictive. It creates a short but intense high and is extremely habit-forming. Many people wonder, “how long does cocaine stay in your system after using it?” The amount of time cocaine can be detected in your body depends on several factors.
What Is Cocaine?
Cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant made from the leaves of a coca plant native to South America. It turns into a white powdery substance that can be snorted, smoked, or injected for a quick high.
Known by many street names, such as coke, blow, and snow, cocaine is a strong stimulant that speeds up the body’s central nervous system. It can make you feel more alert, energetic, talkative, and happy. These positive effects are likely the reason for its widespread use. In 2020, over 5 million Americans aged 12 and older reported using cocaine in the past year. It remains a popular illegal drug; second only to marijuana.
Cocaine also narrows blood vessels, raises blood pressure, and increases heart rate and body temperature, which can be dangerous. Because it floods the brain’s reward system with the feel-good chemical dopamine, it’s also extremely addictive. With repeated use, the brain starts to need cocaine just to feel normal. Addiction can happen quickly, even after trying the drug only a few times.
Cocaine comes in a few different forms:
- Powder cocaine is a fine, white crystalline powder that’s typically snorted. People also inject cocaine with needles for a more intense but shorter high.
- Crack cocaine is cocaine that’s processed into a rock crystal form, heated, and smoked. Many people wonder, “is crack cocaine?” The difference between crack and cocaine is that crack delivers a quicker and more intense high. It’s also more addictive, cheaper, and carries greater social stigma.
No matter how it’s used, cocaine is a dangerous, addictive substance that comes with serious health risks like heart attack, stroke, and sudden death.
How Long Does Cocaine Stay in Your System?
Many factors affect how long cocaine, and its byproducts, stay in the body. These include:
Amount used – The more cocaine you use, the longer it takes to leave your body. Larger doses take more time to fully break down and remove from the body.
How often used – Frequent or long-term cocaine users have cocaine buildup in tissues and fat cells, increasing the time it remains in the body.
Type – Crack cocaine leaves the body faster than powder cocaine.
How it’s used – Injected or smoked cocaine disappears faster than snorted.
Metabolism – Cocaine leaves some people’s bodies faster based on their genetics, liver function, and other factors.
Cocaine can be found for different lengths of time in blood, saliva, urine, or hair tests.
- Cocaine in blood – How long does cocaine stay in your blood? Cocaine enters the bloodstream right after you use it. It disappears from blood quickly; usually within 1-2 days after last use. Heavy, chronic users can test positive for slightly longer periods of time (up to 3 days). Blood testing looks for actual cocaine rather than its byproducts. It shows very recent drug use.
- Cocaine in saliva – Similar to blood tests, saliva testing can detect cocaine for 1-2 days after last use.
- Cocaine in urine – How long does cocaine stay in urine? Urine tests look for cocaine byproducts that stay in the body longer. A common one is benzoylecgonine, detected for 3-4 days after moderate use. In heavy users, cocaine may show up for 7-10 days or more. Urine tests are the cheapest and most common testing process. However, cocaine disappears from urine faster than many other drugs.
- Cocaine in hair – Hair has the longest detection window for cocaine, staying up to 90 days or more after stopping use. Cocaine byproducts get inside hair and can confirm use over long periods of time. Hair can estimate the amount of times cocaine was used based on levels of the drug present. It’s often used in court cases when past drug use is questioned.
What Are the Signs of Cocaine Abuse?
Frequent cocaine use causes short-term and long-term effects. Recognizing the signs of abuse can motivate users to seek help. Signs include:
Physical effects of cocaine:
- Dilated pupils, bloodshot eyes
- Hyperactivity, constant talking
- Nosebleeds and runny nose
- Trembling, muscle twitches
- Weight loss, lack of appetite
- Sleep problems
Mental effects of cocaine:
- Feeling euphoric, very confident
- Paranoia, anxiety
- Aggressive or erratic behavior
- Depression when coming down
- Unable to focus
- Hiding small bags, straws
- Missing money or valuables
- Neglecting responsibilities
- Relationship problems, isolation
- Legal issues or crimes
A strong desire to keep using cocaine despite negative effects is addiction. Those unable to stop even when it harms their life need to seek professional treatment.
What Is Cocaine Addiction Treatment Like?
Overcoming cocaine addiction is possible with professional treatment and support. In 2013, cocaine accounted for almost 6 percent of all admissions to drug abuse treatment programs.
When it comes to cocaine addiction, treatment usually involves medical and psychological help, which may include the following:
Detox – Often the first step, detoxification is a set of interventions aimed at managing extreme intoxication and withdrawal. During detox, the body is gradually helped to get rid of cocaine with medical supervision. Cocaine has mild withdrawals; however, medications can help ease cravings and other symptoms. Medical supervision ensures safe detox.
Rehab therapy – Therapy helps identify triggers, build coping skills, and prevent relapse. One type, called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), teaches you how to change negative thoughts and behaviors linked to cocaine use. Regular sessions can help you deal with cravings and avoid using cocaine again.
Support groups – Group therapy and support from others in similar situations can be really helpful, too.
Connecting with others in recovery provides accountability. Cocaine Anonymous groups exist worldwide.
Aftercare – Ongoing counseling, groups, housing, or other continuing care help maintain sobriety. Activities like mindfulness and yoga can also improve emotional well-being.
Cocaine Addiction Treatment at Aliya Health Group
At Aliya Health Group, we want to give people fighting cocaine addiction the help they need to stop. Since people need different kinds of help, our treatment centers offer a full continuum of care that includes:
- Medical detox and sub-acute detox
- Inpatient treatment
- Partial hospitalization program (PHP)
- Intensive outpatient program (IOP)
- Outpatient treatment
- Sober living residences
- Aftercare plans
With support, therapy, and the right care, individuals can break free from addiction and build a better future. If you or a loved one are struggling with cocaine, call us today at 888-965-3085 or fill out our secure contact form. Our highly qualified staff is ready to resolve any questions or doubts you may have and help you get back on your feet.
- Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health | Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
- How is cocaine addiction treated? Cocaine Addiction Report| National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
- Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment: A Treatment Improvement Protocol | Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
- Cocaine Anonymous. CA.org