How Long Does Cocaine Stay in One’s System

cocaine drug testing

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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.

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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.

In chronic users, however, cocaine has no time to be eliminated before the next dose. The substance accumulates in the body prolonging the time required to remove cocaine from the system.

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.

False Positives

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.

View Sources
  1. 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/.
  2. 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.
  3. 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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  • Erica B.
    Hi, I’m in a very horrible situation with what I truly believe is a false positive for Cocaine, on August 17th I took a UA and hair follicle due to me being in a CPS/drug court program. On September 29 (2018) my kids were removed from my custody. I was told I tested positive for Cocaine (hair not ua) for the test I took in August. I have. One year two months clean and haven’t had any problems with my hair follicle sense a year ago. Now prior to the test in August. I had a lot of dental work done in June and July I was given -1carps4% septocaine with 1:100kepi that was in June and in July I was given-1carps4% septocaine with 1:100epiin between those times I had one or two more surgeries in which I got my teeth removed. Can you please shed some light on this situation this is the only website I found that stay That is occurs sometimes. I am truly clean and sober and CPS are trying to adopt my kids out. I was told the levels from the text in August was 700pk then I took another on August 29 the levels were 300 then The judge ordered a zero tolerance test and I was told the levels were 315pk.please help I need and want my kids something is not right with this.
    • Kdj
      You may need to hire a lawyer this same thing happened to my sister Turns out the DS was doing funny business. They can’t adopt you’re kids out. They can Foster them until you meet the requirements but they cannot adopt your kids out because you’re not deceased nor did you give up you’re rights l. You working today get your babies back.. trust I know I come from the Foster system.
    • frederick n rayner
      Something else nobody considers I was years off cocaine I weighed 300 lb better girl lost a hundred pounds worth of weight started testing positive for cocaine again in my urine at my doctor’s office and told my doctor haven’t done it for a very long time but he would not believe me and I lost my meds because of my weight loss is the only thing I can consider
  • Stuart Galloway
    I have been a chronic crack cocaine user for over 2 years. I used crack every day. I am now 54 days clean after completing my 2nd rehabilitation. What I would like to know is how long will the total effect of the drug take to leave my body. I am still experiencing broken sleep patterns, body aches and pains, black phlegm spots being coughed up and I dream about using every 2nd night? I also still crave the drug now and again during the day and think of it daily. Is all this normal and will my body eventually get back into a normal state?
    • Corey
      Yes it is all normal and the dreams can last up to 2 yrs . I am a recovery addict of 7 yrs now and that was the one thing I did not like the dreams, I would never get in them . Hang in there because you are doing excellent , congrats on your sobriety. You are over the worse part of it and it only gets better the longeron
  • Jamie
    I’ve found that the only way to have a clean test is not to take it at all I know it’s hard but the urine tests for Coke are long and lasting for weeks took me 3 months to get a coke free test and I wasn’t at all a chronic user yes it’s hard but if you want keep your kids it has to be done it’s either stop and keep your kids or carry on and lose em
  • Julian Leal
    I been clean for almost 2 yrs took a single doze 2 weeks ago while it show on a hair follicle test