Cocaine, often referred to as “coke,” is a powerful and addictive stimulant drug that causes a short, elevated high characterized by increased energy, wakefulness, and euphoria. Despite how addictive it is, more than 4.8 million people abused cocaine in 2021, and even though cocaine’s high is short-lived, it can stay in your system for up to 2 weeks.
Certain factors such as how much cocaine you’ve done recently, how long you’ve been using cocaine, and metabolism can affect how long it stays in your body. Drinking alcohol or using other drugs with cocaine can also affect how quickly your body can metabolize it.
If you or a loved one needs treatment for cocaine addiction, please contact our team at New Jersey Addiction Interventions today.
How Long Do The Effects of Cocaine Last?
The speed of onset and duration of cocaine’s effects can vary depending on the method of use.
- Snorting cocaine – Snorting (insufflation) is the most popular way to use cocaine. The effects are felt within 2-5 minutes and can last for 20-30 minutes.
- Smoking cocaine – Some people smoke cocaine or “freebase” cocaine. The effects start almost immediately and can last for about 20-30 minutes.
- Swallowing cocaine – Ingesting cocaine orally can produce effects about 10-30 minutes after ingestion. The effects can last up to 1.5 hours.
- Injecting cocaine – Intravenous cocaine use produces effects almost immediately, and they persist for about 15 to 20 minutes.
Even though the effects don’t last very long, cocaine metabolites will remain in the body for several days or weeks. Because cocaine produces a short high, many people binge on the drug, taking doses regularly over a few hours, days, or weeks. A cocaine binge can increase the amount of time the drug stays in your system.
How is Cocaine Metabolized?
Cocaine has a half-life of about one hour, meaning it takes about an hour to eliminate half of the cocaine used from the bloodstream. However, as cocaine is metabolized it is broken down into metabolites that stay in your system for several days.
When you take cocaine, it is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream and is transported to different organs and tissues in the body where it starts to break down. Cocaine is metabolized, or broken down, in the body through a process involving enzymes called “esterases.” Esterases break down cocaine into benzoylecgonine.
Benzoylecgonine is a major metabolite of cocaine and is relatively stable in the body, so it tends to remain in your system longer than cocaine does. Benzoylecgonine then undergoes further metabolism in the liver where it is converted into “ecgonine methyl ester” and other smaller molecules. These metabolites are later eliminated from the body through urine.
Factors that Affect How Long Cocaine Stays in Your System
Everyone metabolizes cocaine at different rates. Additionally, there are various factors that may influence how long cocaine can be detected in urine or in other types of drug tests. These factors include:
- The scope of your cocaine use – Using cocaine more frequently, for longer periods of time, or in high doses can cause it to stay in your system longer than it would after one-time use.
- Method of cocaine use – The way in which you use cocaine, such as snorting, smoking, or injecting, can influence how quickly it leaves your body.
- Alcohol use – Drinking alcohol at the same time as taking cocaine produces a toxic byproduct called cocaethylene. Cocaethylene not only produces dangerous effects, but it can also slow down the rate at which your body metabolizes cocaine.
- Age, weight, and overall metabolism – Each of these individual health factors and your metabolism can speed up or slow down the rate at which cocaine leaves the body.
How Long Will Cocaine Show Up on a Drug Test?
Drug tests screen for cocaine by looking for metabolites like benzoylecgonine. Benzoylecgonine has a urine concentration that is 50-100 times greater than the urine concentration of cocaine. While the above-listed factors can affect the detection timeframes, estimates for each type of drug test are as follows:
- Urine – Urine tests are the most widely used. Cocaine can show up in urine for about 3 days, but up to 2 weeks in chronic, heavy users.
- Blood – Cocaine will show up on a blood test for up to 2 days after your last use.
- Saliva – Cocaine will show up on a saliva test for up to 2 days after your last use.
- Hair – Hair follicle drug tests can detect cocaine in the body for up to 90 days after the last use.
If you have an upcoming drug test and are concerned about testing positive for cocaine, you should stop using the drug immediately. However, if you find that you can’t stop using on your own, you may be struggling with addiction and in need of professional treatment.
Find a Cocaine Rehab Center in New Jersey Today
Cocaine abuse and addiction are serious issues, and they can impact nearly every area of your life. The good news is that you don’t have to live with cocaine addiction–there is effective treatment available.
At New Jersey Addiction Intervention, we partner with some of the most trusted and top-rated drug and alcohol rehab centers in the nation. Our team can assess your needs, verify your insurance, and connect you to the right program for you. Don’t wait any longer. Call now to get started.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA): What is the scope of cocaine use in the U.S.? Retrieved May 2023 from https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/what-scope-cocaine-use-in-united-states
- National Library of Medicine: Accelerating cocaine metabolism as an approach to the treatment of cocaine abuse and toxicity, Retrieved May 2023 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3293209/
- Wolters Kluwer: Cocaine Metabolism and Urinary Excretion After Different Routes of Administration, Retrieved May 2023 from https://journals.lww.com/drug-monitoring/Abstract/1998/10000/Cocaine_Metabolism_and_Urinary_Excretion_After.19.aspx
Medically Reviewed: May 19, 2023
All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.