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The rush of cocaine is immediate and impactful, and that intense surge of euphoria is what makes this illicit drug so alluring. But just as the high comes on relatively quickly, so does the let down. Even though the feeling of euphoria may pass quickly, how long does cocaine stay in your urine?
The Effects of Cocaine in the System
Cocaine is a stimulant drug and when it hits the bloodstream, a user feels energetic, joyful, and highly alert in all their senses. The drug increases the chemical called dopamine, which signals the brain’s reward center that the cocaine is having a pleasurable effect. Your brain retains this information, and the sensation of pleasure is reinforced each time the drug is taken. However, with continued use, more and more dopamine needs to be produced to get the same high as before, which leads the body to start craving more cocaine to satisfy this need. This can lead to cocaine abuse and, if not stopped, potentially to cocaine addiction.
This strong drug can trigger short- and long-term effects. Along with the euphoria, a cocaine high may also cause irritability, hypersensitivity, or paranoia. If chronic cocaine use persists, there is a risk of nosebleeds, respiratory issues, infectious diseases, and damaged veins, depending on how the cocaine is consumed. Frequent cocaine use also has the inherent danger of overdose, whose symptoms include high temperature, hallucinations, elevated blood pressure, restricted breathing, unconsciousness, and heightened anxiety. An overdose may result in an irregular heartbeat, seizure, stroke, or death. All of these risks intensify if cocaine is mixed with another drug or with alcohol.
Although it has an immediate effect on the body, the question of how long does cocaine stay in your system is a multifaceted one. A lot of it depends on how the cocaine was used. The most common ways are snorting the fine white powder, injecting it into the body with a needle, taking it orally, or smoking (aka freebasing) the rock-like formations known as crack. Cocaine that was snorted can produce a high that lasts from 15 to 30 minutes, while smoking it results in an even briefer high of five to 10 minutes. A high can also last longer if a person is binging multiple hits of cocaine to prolong the feeling of euphoria.
The way the cocaine was administered also determines how long it takes for half of it to be expelled from the body, which is known as the drug’s half life. Research has indicated that the overall half life for cocaine ranges from .7 hours to 1.5 hours. For instance, taken orally, the drug’s half life is about .8 hours, while it is 1.25 hours when snorted.
As the rush wears away, the cocaine makes its way through the body to the liver, the main organ responsible for metabolizing the drug. This process can take about two hours. Cocaine can then be excreted from the body through urine, saliva, and stools.
However, once the drug is gone from your system, usually after about a day, that doesn’t mean it won’t show up on a test. The metabolization process creates compounds called metabolites, and different metabolites are created depending on whether the cocaine was smoked, snorted, swallowed, or injected. For instance, take the matter of how long does cocaine stay in blood. Cocaine is eliminated from blood plasma about four hours after the drug was used, but the resulting metabolites mean cocaine use can be detected up to 144 hours later in some cases. When these metabolites show up on certain tests, they generate a positive result for cocaine
The metabolic process for cocaine also depends on other factors. Frequent usage may make it harder for the body to clear cocaine from the system as it accretes over time. Also, if too much cocaine is taken all at once, that larger amount will naturally take longer to be eliminated from the body. Age, body weight, and general metabolic health can all play a role in answering the question, “How long does cocaine stay in urine?” The drug itself is usually gone within a day, but the telltale metabolites still linger.
Testing for Cocaine in the System
Screening for cocaine use can be done by testing the urine, which is the most common option, as well as the saliva, blood, and hair. The typical metabolite that is tested for is benzoylecgonine.
Blood testing will show positive results for cocaine use for up to a day after the drug is taken, saliva testing for one to two days, and urine for one to four days. Hair-follicle tests can be given much later, as the drug can be detected for up to 90 days. However, this test isn’t used as much as the others because it has produced unreliable results in some instances.
If you are worried about a possible cocaine test, it may no longer be an issue of how long does cocaine stay in your system. You may be grappling with a much larger problem: cocaine abuse, and the very real chance of spiraling towards addiction. If you find that you are craving the drug, that you need to take more of it to achieve a high, and that you are constantly thinking about getting that next rush to the exclusion of everything else, those are signs that you have a cocaine problem.
Find Professional Treatment for Cocaine Addiction
Cocaine is incredibly addictive, and it’s easy for users to slide quickly from recreational use to drug dependence. While you may want to quit, it’s not advised to do so cold turkey: withdrawal can be taxing to the brain, impairing both cognitive function and overall mental health. To safely and effectively quit using cocaine, you need the professional services provided by our ibogaine treatment center. Our skilled medical team expertly integrates our innovative ibogaine treatment into each patient’s overall recovery plan. Contact us today to get more information and learn how we can help.
Dr. Sola is one of the world’s leading experts in medically-based ibogaine treatment; he has more clinical experience with safe and effective ibogaine administration than any other M.D. in the world today.