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How Long Does Cocaine Stay in Your System?

July 2, 2022

Table of Contents

The duration of cocaine’s effects is very brief, on the order of minutes to hours. Most people feel the effects for just minutes before they start to wear off. However, the metabolites of cocaine can linger in your system and can be detected usually anywhere from 24-96 hours. 

Cocaine's half-life varies between about 12 and 52 hours.[1] That means your body could need up to four days to completely remove all traces of cocaine from your body.

How Does Cocaine Intoxication Feel?

Cocaine can be sniffed/snorted, smoked, or injected. Your body reacts to each method a little differently.[2]

This is how long the effects last for different methods of using cocaine (approximately. Every person is a little different):

Immediately 10 minutes 15 minutes 30 minutes
Snorting High High Fading Gone
Injecting High Fading Fading Gone
Smoking High Fading Gone Gone

Cocaine is considered a stimulant or an upper, meaning that it produces energy, jitteriness, feelings of invincibility, insomnia and hyperactivity. 

In a healthy person with no history of chronic cocaine use, the substance stays in the bloodstream for about 40 to 90 minutes, and so the physical effects of cocaine tend to be short acting compared to other drugs.[3] 

When the high begins to wear off, people feel:

  • Depressed 
  • Anxious 
  • Exhausted
  • Restless 
  • Irritable 
  • Suicidal 

Cocaine Testing: What You Should Know

How Long Does Cocaine Stay In Your System

Employers may order urine or saliva tests before offering you a job. Some recovery programs require ongoing monitoring to ensure that patients maintain abstinence.. If you've used cocaine, the substance can appear in your tests for the following amount of time: 

Sample type Time you could test positive
Urine 1 to 162 hours[4]
Saliva 5 to 10 days[5]
Blood About an hour[6]
Hair Indefinitely, even after washing[7]

Glance through this chart, and you'll see wide time discrepancies. You'll need more time to clear cocaine due to the following:

  • Cocaine habits: The more you take, and the longer you take it, the more time your body will need to clear the drug. If your cocaine habit is new, you could clear tests faster. But if you've used cocaine repeatedly, your body needs more time, and it’s likely you’ll test positive for cocaine for longer.
  • Weight and height: Larger people have more fat stores and a bigger blood volume. They may need more time to clear cocaine from their bodies. 
  • Liver and Kidney Health: If your organs are damaged, they can't clear drugs as quickly and efficiently as they might otherwise. You’ll test positive for cocaine longer as a result.

Can You Change Your Cocaine Test Results?

No prescription medication or therapeutic treatment can scrub cocaine from your body. Your organs need time to process the metabolites out of the body. 

You can ensure that your body is healthy enough to achieve cocaine sobriety. Do that through the following:

  • Nutrition: Eat a balanced diet and ensure that you drink plenty of fluids. 
  • Exercise: Find a form of fitness you enjoy, and work your muscles every day.
  • Rest: Get a good night's sleep and allow your body time to heal. 

In time, your body can remove traces of cocaine and return to a normal level of functioning.

Elena Hill, MD, MPH

Elena Hill, MD; MPH received her MD and Masters of Public Health degrees at Tufts Medical School and completed her family medicine residency at Boston Medical Center. She is currently an attending physician at Bronxcare Health Systems in the Bronx, NY where she works as a primary care physician as well as part time in pain management and integrated health. Her clinical interests include underserved health care, chronic pain and integrated/alternative health.

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Citations

  1. Elimination of Cocaine and Metabolites in Plasma, Saliva, and Urine Following Repeated Oral Administration to Human Volunteers. Journal of Analytical Toxicology. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11043648/. October 2000. Accessed April 2022. 
  2. Cocaine and Crack. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. https://www.camh.ca/en/health-info/mental-illness-and-addiction-index/cocaine. 2010. Accessed April 2022. 
  3. Research Monograph Series — Acute Cocaine Intoxication: Current Methods of Treatment. National Institute on Drug Abuse. https://archives.drugabuse.gov/sites/default/files/monograph123.pdf. 1992. Accessed April 2022. 
  4. Cocaine and Metabolites Urinary Excretion After Controlled Smoked Administration. Journal of Analytical Toxicology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3128807/. July 2011. Accessed April 2022. 
  5. Prolonged Occurrence of Cocaine in Human Saliva and Urine After Chronic Use. Journal of Analytical Toxicology. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2733393/. April 1989. Accessed April 2022.
  6. Production of Cocaine Hydrochloride and Cocaine Base. U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General. https://oig.justice.gov/sites/default/files/archive/special/9712/appb.htm. Accessed April 2022. 
  7. Analysis of Cocaine Analytes in Human Hair: Evaluation of Concentration Ratios in Different Hair Types, Cocaine Sources, Drug-User Populations, and Surface-Contaminated Specimens. U.S. Department of Justice. https://www.ojp.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/225531.pdf. January 2009. Accessed April 2022.

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