The effects of cocaine can be felt in as little as a few seconds. As soon as it is taken — whether injected, snorted, or smoked — it starts to affect the brain and body.
Its euphoric effects, or the high, can last between 5 and 30 minutes, per the Independent. However, cocaine can linger in the body much longer than that.
Cocaine usually processes out of the system in a few days. It is usually detectable on urine tests for three or four days. It can be detected in hair follicle tests for up to 90 days after use.
HOW COCAINE IS DETECTED
A lot of people use cocaine occasionally. Still, using it at the wrong time could reap unwanted consequences. This is especially the case if you are preparing to take a drug test for a job. Some organizations subject their employees to random drug tests as part of their policies.
Urine, blood, or hair may be tested to see whether or not a person is under the influence of illicit drugs. That means that using cocaine at the wrong time could prevent you from getting a job or even a promotion if it is detected with a test.
PROPERTIES OF COCAINE
As stated in Science Direct, the half-life of cocaine is between 30 minutes and 1.5 hours. Cocaine stays in the body even after its effects wear off because the body has to metabolize it.
The body expels some cocaine through urine. However, the liver has to turn it into other elements so it can get rid of cocaine properly. Before it is entirely out of the body, the enzymes in the liver turn cocaine into the following:
- Benzoylecgonine: This is cocaine’s main metabolite. According to Mayo Clinic Labs, its half-life is up to 12 hours. Most drug-testing methods look for the presence of this metabolite in urine.
- Ecgonine methyl ester: Though this metabolite is present after ingesting cocaine in smaller quantities, its half-life is up to 15 hours.
These metabolites may affect a person up to 150 times longer than cocaine’s effects. If a person ingests cocaine and feels its effects for up to 30 minutes, the metabolites left in their body could affect up them for up to 4,500 minutes, or 3.13 days.
Occasional or one-time users are not likely to experience too many problems with drug testing. People who take cocaine frequently may have cocaine or its metabolites in their bodies for weeks at a time. In some cases, it may be detectable in drug tests for a few months.
HOW COCAINE CAN BE DETECTED IN DRUG TESTS
Most employers use urine, blood, and saliva tests to check on the drug use of current or prospective employees. In rare instances, they may test a person’s hair for drugs or to confirm the results of other types of drug tests.
An article on Tonic says that cocaine is not fat-soluble. It quickly leaves cells in the body after being taken. People who use cocaine occasionally may need only one to two days to get rid of the drug and its traces.
Not everyone is the same, however, so some people may still present traces of cocaine after a week. In most people, having cocaine in the body longer than this after a one-time use could mean that something is wrong with their kidneys.
Here are some estimates for how long cocaine may show up in common tests:
- Saliva: 1 to 10 days
- Blood: 1 to 2 days
- Urine: 3 to 4 days
- Hair: Up to 90 days
Testing hair is called follicle testing. The reason cocaine can be detected for such a long time using this method is that cocaine’s traces get mixed with the body as hair grows. Basically, cocaine is growing in a person’s hair.
Cocaine remains in the hair until it is cut off. That means that people who have used cocaine should cut their hair off after a few weeks if they do not want it to appear on a hair follicle test.
DETOXING COCAINE FROM THE BODY
People who want to prepare for a drug test will usually be fine if they do not use cocaine frequently. The body will naturally expel the drug and its traces on its own.
Those who use it more often may want to speed detox to pass an upcoming urine, blood, or saliva-based drug test. While time is ultimately the only way to process cocaine, there are some things that can slow down the process.
Some Things That May Prevent Cocaine From Exiting The Body Successfully Include:
- Excess caffeine. This can keep your body from getting rid of cocaine, so eliminate caffeine intake before a test.
- Drinking alcohol along with cocaine. Alcohol can stick to the drug and keep it from leaving the body.
- Sedentary lifestyle. Physical activity speeds up a person’s metabolism. Not being active enough could cause cocaine to stay in the body longer.
- Not drinking water. Staying hydrated can give your body’s metabolism a boost and might help to get rid of cocaine faster.
- Excess weight. This provides more fatty tissue that cocaine could stay in.
- Consistent use. Using cocaine more often causes it to build up, which means it will take longer to detox from.
The Final Answer
The exact amount of time that cocaine stays in the body varies according to many personal factors. Since testing urine is the most common way to test for drugs, expect cocaine to show up on these tests for up to four days after use.