How Long Does Cocaine Stay in One’s System
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Many people are concerned about the effect of cocaine on their body. They also worry about the upcoming drug test and wonder if they will test positive for cocaine. There are several factors one needs take into account to know how long cocaine stays and acts in the body. Read on to learn about how long cocaine stays in one’s system, methods of testing, and what influences its detection.
Table of Contents
How Long is Cocaine Detectable in The Body?
The duration of the presence of cocaine traces in the body are indicative. Firstly, cocaine use symptoms. Secondly, from one person to another, a cocaine detection test can give different results. It all depends on additional factors such as:
- The duration of cocaine use
- The average doses
- The health of liver
- The cocaine detection test
How Long Does Cocaine Stay in System?
The standard testing window for cocaine detection is about 2-4 days. That corresponds to most urine tests. But chronic and abundant cocaine consumers will likely have a larger detection window. But depending on the sample type, a different test is carried out, and one can expect different results.
How Long Does Cocaine Stay In Blood?
Cocaine can leave traces up to 48 hours after the last consumption.
How Long Does Cocaine Stay in Saliva?
Cocaine half-life in saliva is two hours, which means that it can be present even on the next day. But in the worst case, all traces should disappear after 48 hours.
How Long Does Cocaine Stay in Sweat?
The peak level of cocaine in sweat is between 4-24 hours, but it can stay there for several weeks.
How Long Does Cocaine Stay In Hair?
The concentration of cocaine in hair is traceable for at least a month or two. But it does not necessarily leave marks at the hair roots only. Cocaine molecules can stay in hair for years until it is cut off.
How Long Does Cocaine Stay in Urine?
Typically, traces of cocaine can be visible for 2-4 days in urine. But after binges in chronic users, it can be detectable up to two weeks.
What About Cocaine Metabolites?
Cocaine and Its Metabolites
After ingesting cocaine, liver will process it. It will break down cocaine into smaller metabolites so that they can be eliminated from the body. Typically that happens through urination. An essential composite resulting from the breakdown of cocaine is benzoylecgonine. It makes up 30-40% of cocaine metabolites.
Delayed Timeline for Cocaine Metabolites
Because of a longer half-time, chances are much better to detect benzoylecgonine rather than cocaine itself. Here are some facts:
- Even with a minimum amount of the cocaine dose, it takes 4-5 days to eliminate benzoylecgonine.
- A single but large dose of cocaine leads to 10 days of detox from its metabolites.
- For regular users of moderate doses, benzoylecgonine can take 20 days to fade.
- Mixing cocaine with alcohol delays the whole elimination process: it can take a month to get clean of the toxins.
- Consuming coffee also holds back benzoylecgonine in the body.
As an example: if cocaine peaks 30 minutes after snorting it, benzoylecgonine gets at its peak level only after three hours.
Testing For Cocaine Metabolites
So after cocaine is no longer present in the body in its original form, its metabolites still are there for some time. Benzoylecgonine happens to have a much longer half-life than cocaine; it can reach six hours, sometimes more. And even longer in chronic users. So it takes much longer to get eliminated from the body than cocaine. It can even be detectable for several months in some specific tests. That is why it is the preferred substance to detect when testing for cocaine abuse.
Immunoassays are drug tests that aim to detect benzoylecgonine. If cocaine itself can be traceable in minuscule amounts in the first hours of substance use, there is more time for its metabolites. Sporadic users will test positive for benzoylecgonine for the next 4-5 days, while that can go up to 12-20 days for chronic users. A level of 2 ng of benzoylecgonine per mL or urine is the threshold for declaring a positive drug test result. That makes benzoylecgonine a preferred substance to test for cocaine abuse.
Preferred Testing Methods
Blood testing is mostly used in emergency situations of acute intoxications.
Hair testing is the most reliable test. It has the advantage of the largest detection window. But it also requires advanced detection techniques, which makes it less practical.
Urine testing has a larger detection window than blood or saliva tests. It is also a non-invasive method. It is the preferred approach for screening cocaine use if there is no medical emergency.
What Are The Peak Levels of Cocaine?
Cocaine has an apparent half-life of less than one hour (12-50 minutes). What this means is that it takes under one hour to decrease the amounts of cocaine in the body.
What Else One Should Know
To understand the whole picture, it is important to know how cocaine is made. In regular or long-term cocaine users, the drug accumulates. It is stored in the fatty tissues, particularly in the liver. Every subsequent cocaine dose results in adding another fraction to the stock. As a result, this person has a permanent drug release it the bloodstream. That is why chronic users can test positive even if they haven’t consumed drugs for weeks or months. A total detoxification of cocaine in long-term consumers usually takes six months.
No other drug or medicine makes the liver break it down to benzoylecgonine, only cocaine. That is why this metabolite is cocaine’s fingerprint. Therefore, the most common screening method for cocaine use is a urine test for benzoylecgonine.
However, some laboratories with a less accurate technology available sometimes obtain false positives. That is because certain medicines produce metabolites with a somewhat similar structure to benzoylecgonine. Such medications include lidocaine or novocaine, which are in common anesthetics used by dentists. Patients with chronic kidney or liver diseases can also produce these substances. Under these circumstances, false positive results for cocaine use do happen sometimes.
- Smith M. L., Shimomura E., Paul B. D., Cone E. J., Darwin W. D., Huestis M. A. Urinary excretion of ecgonine and five other cocaine metabolites following controlled oral, intravenous, intranasal, and smoked administration of cocaine. Journal of Analytical Toxicology. 2010; 34(2): 57–63. doi:10.1093/jat/34.2.57. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3159558/.
- Jufer R. A. et al. Elimination of cocaine and metabolites in plasma, saliva, and urine following repeated oral administration to human volunteers. Journal of Analytical Toxicology. 2000; 24(7): 467-77. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11043648.
- Ropero-Miller J. D. & Stout P. R. 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. 2009. https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/225531.pdf.
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