How Long Does Cocaine Stay In Your System: Things You Should Know

How long does cocaine stay in your system? You shall find out all you need to be aware of in this post. But first know that cocaine is the second most frequently used illegal drug in the world after cannabis. In the United States, according to a National Survey on Drug Use and Health in 2014, over 900,000 people suffer from cocaine addiction. Cocaine is a highly addictive drug. The problem with blow, snow, powder or doing a bump--as it’s called in street parlance--is that the drug feels so good but doesn’t last very long, so you crave more and more, again and again.

Cocaine causes a profound — albeit rather short-lived — state of euphoria and intense feeling of happiness that is followed by a seriously unpleasant or intolerable crash. This resulting crash, after just five to 90 minutes, can lead to a vicious cycle of high-crash-high and so forth, leading to a need for more and more cocaine and resulting in severe addiction with long-term damage to the brain and body. You can no longer control the drug.

The brain causes such intense cravings that the drug controls you. The idea of willpower or trying to manage the substance is futile at this point. It’s all biochemistry by the time you're in this place. But how long does cocaine stay in your system? Here are ten important things you should know.

What Exactly Is Cocaine?

Cocaine And Money

It’s a Schedule II Drug

In order to address the question of how long does cocaine stay in your system, let’s start at the very beginning with basic chemistry and look at cocaine’s chemical makeup and molecular structure. Cocaine or coke is one of the most highly addictive and harmful recreational drugs. It is listed as a Schedule II drug by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, which means that it also has some medicinal uses.

It Belongs to the Class of Stimulants C17H21NO4

It belongs to a class of stimulants, and its trade name is Neurocaine. Its synonym is Benzoylmethylecgonine, or the slang names mentioned in the intro. If you’re really into chemistry, know that it consists of methyl (1R,2R,3S,5S)-3- (benzoyloxy)-8-methyl-8-azabicyclo[3.2.1] octane-2-carboxylate and its chemical formula is C17H21NO4 — in other words, it is an alkaloid ester extracted from the leaves of the coca plant.

How Is Cocaine Made?

Cocaine Ingredients

According to the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime’s World Drug Report, Columbia is the largest producer of coke in the world. The extraction from the leaves of the coca plant results in 90 to 100 percent pure cocaine. But when the drug is sold on the street for recreation, it is often cut and diluted with fillers, such as fentanyl, lidocaine, procaine, lactose, cornstarch, baking soda, and/or talcum powder, which make it even more perilous. This means that now the drug is only about 20 percent to 65 percent pure. Purity also affects the answer to the question, "how long does cocaine stay in the system?"

How Does Cocaine Work on the Brain?

This alkaloid — with central nervous systems stimulating and local anesthetic activity — binds to the dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine transport proteins and inhibits their re-uptake. This leads to an accumulation of these neurotransmitters in the synaptic cleft and results in boosted postsynaptic receptor activation. This, in turn, leads to the inhibition of the initiation and conduction of nerve impulses and produces a loss of sensation.

Cocaine In The Brain

That loss of sensation is why a long time ago cocaine was used as a local anesthetic, until its adverse effects were deemed too dangerous and risky. Instead, people use it for its mood-elevating effects: the desired rush.

How Long Does a Cocaine High Last and Does the Method of Ingestion Affect Its Effect?

Woman Asleep

In short, the answer is, yes, it does. The method of ingesting cocaine very much affects the matter of how long does cocaine stay in your system. Common methods of ingesting cocaine include snorting, smoking, intravenous use and oral use. But how long does the high last?

How Long Does It Last? Snorting vs. Shooting

The fastest method for delivering the stimulant into your system is smoking or shooting it into your bloodstream via a hypodermic needle. Cocaine’s uplifting, energizing and euphoric effects — typically referred to as a “rush — are felt instantly but dissipate within seconds. When snorting it, the effects are felt right away as well, or within minutes, and last for about half an hour.

Oral ingestion takes quite a bit longer to show an effect; on average, the human body takes 20 to 90 minutes to feel its force. These effects are mitigated by factors such as a person’s weight and age, biochemistry and metabolism, whether they are new to the drug or not, and how much is taken.

How Long Does Cocaine Stay in Your System?

Cocaine And Hand

But how long does cocaine stay in your system? This is a question that may be important for many reasons, one of them being employment drug tests. A urine toxicology test is the most common screening method you will encounter at most medical facilities and for most legal situations.

Cocaine Half Life

Overall, cocaine stays in the human system for approximately one hour. This is referred to as the half-life of a drug or medication. In other words, after you use cocaine, it takes about 60 minutes for half of the cocaine absorbed into your bloodstream to leave the body. However, things don’t end there when it comes to the crucial question of “how long does cocaine stay in your system”?

Urine Tests

Even a single use of cocaine can be detected via a urine test two to four days after the incident. That’s because the metabolization of cocaine creates certain agents (cocaine metabolites such as benzoylecgonine) that can be tested for. For chronic and frequent users, or a person that has gone on a serious binge, these metabolites can be found in the urine for up to two weeks. Again, there are variables that affect these results, such as the metabolism of the individual and the amount and even purity of the drug ingested. A high or super potent dose may show up in urine tests even after three weeks.

Saliva, Blood, Sweat and Hair!

As far as saliva and blood tests, the presence of cocaine can be measured for about 12 hours to 2 days. Surprisingly, it can even be found in a person’s sweat for weeks and in a hair sample for years later, even after the person has ceased taking the drug! Prolonged and heavy use will accumulate traces in the body ’s tissues, where cocaine can be detected for a long period of time.

Beyond thinking of getting a clear or “negative” test result, a person should also consider how long-term use of cocaine detrimentally affects one’s health, with addiction causing liver damage and other organ damage, serious heart problems and vascular damage, paranoia, anxiety disorder, serious depression, cognitive impairment and a loss of brain gray matter.

10 Things You Should Know About Cocaine in Your System

1. How Long Does a Cocaine High Last?

2. How Long Does Cocaine Stay in My Urine?

3. How Long Does Cocaine Stay in My Blood?

4. How Long Can Cocaine Be Detected in My Saliva?

5. How Long Does Cocaine Show Up in My Sweat?

6. How Long Does a Test Register Cocaine in My Hair?

7. What Factors Influence the Excretion of Detectable Benzoylecgonine in My System?

8. Can I Buy a Cocaine Detox Kit?

9. What Are the Side Effects of Cocaine Withdrawal?

10. What Are the Long-Term Harmful Affects of Cocaine Addiction?


It is nearly impossible to say with precision how long cocaine will stay in your body and show up on a urine, saliva or blood drug test. As mentioned above, a cocaine high varies depending on how you ingest the drug, and the answer to the question of "how long does cocaine stay in your system?" varies again depending on many factors from a person’s age, body mass index and metabolism to hydration levels, amounts injected, frequency of use and purity of the product.

Tests have different windows of time. If you’re a frequent and heavy user with a cocaine dependency, the tests are the least of your worries, as you’re looking at serious adverse and possibly irreversible health problems.

If you’re an occasional user, light user, or one-time user, you can probably use the guide above to approximate a safe window of time that will ensure that you will pass your drug test with flying colors. Good luck either way and stay healthy!

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