Cocaine is a powerful stimulant derived from the coca plant.
It’s used recreationally and sold as powder or sometimes as crystal (more commonly known as crack cocaine). Shortly after consumption, it gives a rush of euphoria also known as the “high”. This feeling peaks within half an hour and lasts around an hour in total.
After that, the key question remains: how long is cocaine in your system?
Well, right off the bat, you should know it stays in the body long after the effects fade away. That means it can build up in the organism and bring various problems over a long haul.
Indeed, cocaine causes extensive damage to different parts of the body. In addition, it changes the way our brain functions. The combination of these two outcomes tends to produce disastrous consequences.
Here is how it all unravels.
So, How Long is Cocaine in Your System?
Cocaine elevates energy levels and floods us with happiness.
This is because it ramps up the dopamine production in the brain. What is more, it prevents these feel-good hormones from getting recycled back into the cells.
As you probably know, dopamine is a powerful trigger of pleasure. It also causes greater alertness and concentration. Physical and mental tasks seem much easier to accomplish.
Basic needs for food and sleep are pushed to the background.
The faster your body absorbs it, the stronger these effects are. In all cases, however, they last only a while, which is why most users take cocaine in binges.
Compared to most other drugs, cocaine stays only a short time period. The reason is that our body breaks it down cocaine quickly. This process takes place in the liver.
But, cocaine doesn’t simply disappear from our bodies. The drug tests can easily detect cocaine by sampling saliva, sweat, blood, and hair.
Standard urine drug tests, for example, detect cocaine for between one to four days after the last use. Hair tests can pick up on traces of the drug up to 90 days. Yet, they are somewhat unreliable due to the possibility of environmental contamination.
The Nature of Cocaine’s Staying Power
After the effects wear off, cocaine continues to exist in the system.
Our body processes cocaine by turning it into metabolites. The main active metabolite is called Benzoylecgonine. In general, it takes much longer to expel it from the system than cocaine.
Secondly, there are also some factors that influence how long cocaine stays in the body.
Height, age, weight, and health condition all play a role. The same goes for the amount of consumed cocaine and its purity level. They are both directly proportionate to the length of time it takes to get rid of “evidence”.
Method of consumption is another aspect to take into account. After snorting cocaine, your body may need just a few hours to flush it out. Injecting the drug is linked to an even shorter timeframe.
Furthermore, consuming coke on a regular basis increases the amount of time it lingers. That is because the substance accumulates in fatty tissues. Also, our bodies become less effective at eliminating it over time.
It’s not uncommon for frequent users to have cocaine in the system for months after intake. Their detoxification and recovery also last longer.
Rewiring the Brain
The fact cocaine is eliminated from the body quickly doesn’t mean it’s safe to use.
In fact, there is a rage of far-reaching consequences to be aware of. They are the product of how long is cocaine in your system.
Short-term side-effects include oversensitivity, paranoia, restlessness, panic attacks, violent impulses, and irritability. Some users also report nausea, high blood pressure, increased heart rate, and tremors.
Even worse are the effects that wait further down the road. Namely, given enough time, cocaine can lay waste to our body and mind.
First off, it alters our natural neurochemistry and normal communication between cells. Our reward centers get used to the surging presence of dopamine. The brain reduces the natural supply of neurotransmitters in reward pathways.
In the process, you become less sensitive to dopamine. Your tolerance to cocaine builds up as well. You need increasingly large amounts to achieve the same high or avoid withdrawal symptoms.
The ability to feel pleasure naturally starts withering away. As a result, you lose interest in previously engaging activities. Nothing seems as thrilling as getting the next fix.
Stopping the consumption brings depression, exhaustion, and anxiety. It can also produce psychosis (and hallucinations), mood swings, and risk-taking, reckless behavior.
This is when cocaine dependency is in full force.
Dramatic changes take place in the body as well.
The impact on the cardiovascular system is certainly among the most perilous outcomes.
Most notably, cocaine alters the concentration of blood vessels. Over time, this process creates chest pain and heart muscle inflammation. Consequently, coke users have a higher risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke.
Snorting the drug leads to occasional nosebleed and runny nose. It can even inflict serious damage to our sense of smell. The throat is immediately affected as well.
Among other things, you may have trouble swallowing or experience hoarseness. In extreme cases, it impedes everyday tasks such as eating.
Next on the list of major victims is the gastrointestinal system. Cocaine is known to induce abdominal pain, diarrhea, and vomiting. These side-effects can occur as early as an hour after intake.
In some cases, users report bowel gangrene, bowel perforation, and intraperitoneal hemorrhage.
When it comes to smoking crack, there are additional risks for the lungs.
They take the form of respiratory distress, breathing difficulty, and coughing. Moreover, drug amplifies asthma, bronchitis, and pneumonia. People with these conditions should steer clear of coke.
Finally, one of the major pitfalls of coke use is an addiction. Heavy users are exposed to the highest risks and start craving the feeling the drug brings. They are more likely to overdose on coke, especially when mixing it with alcohol or other drugs.
Even short of the worst-case scenario, cocaine is extremely dangerous. Short-lived high is not worth all the risks that prey on you.
Make Sure to Stay in the Clear
The reasons behind cocaine’s popularity are well-documented.
The drug stimulates reward circuits in the brain, bringing immense bliss and joy. Alas, prolonged and heavy use is associated with dire risks. Here, knowing how long is cocaine in your system is crucial.
The drug wreaks havoc on the body and alters brain chemistry. Your system builds dependence but also tolerance to its pleasurable effects. You’re also less capable of achieving happiness in other ways.
The vicious cycle of abuse and addiction ensues.
Therefore, it’s clear the dangers heavily outweigh any short-term benefits. Cocaine addiction is a serious problem that requires assistance and care.
- “What are the short-term effects of cocaine use?” – National Institute on Drug Abuse, 11 June, 2020, https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/what-are-short-term-effects-cocaine-use Accessed 6 Apr. 2021
- “What is the scope of cocaine use in the United States?” – National Institute on Drug Abuse, 11 June, 2020, https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/what-scope-cocaine-use-in-united-states Accessed 6 Apr. 2021
- “Effects of Cocaine: What are the short-term effects of cocaine?” – drugfreeworld.org
- “Cocaine Facts & Figures,” Office of National Drug Control Policy, 2008
- “Cocaine: what are the effects?” – Australia Drug Foundation (ADF), 23 August, 2018