How Long Does Cocaine Last?

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29 Jul How Long Does Cocaine Last?

Cocaine is an addictive substance derived from the coca plant of South America. It is a street drug distributed as a fine, white powder; often mixed with other fillers like flour or cornstarch when sold, but can also be mixed with other illicit drugs such as amphetamine. The truth is when you buy or use cocaine, you have no way of knowing exactly how it was manufactured or what purity level it holds.

Although cocaine has been used since the 1800s and at one point even used in the popular soft drink Coca-Cola in the early 1900s, it didn’t reach its highest popularity in the U.S. until the 1970s. People in this era used the drug to “stay alert” and keep up their energy. It became a common street drug widely used across the country.

Popular terms used for cocaine include blow, crack, coke, rock, and snow. It’s mostly snorted through the nose or rubbed into the gums, but it can be injected if the powder is dissolved in water. Another way cocaine is bought and sold is through rock crystal, which is referred to as a “crack rock,” which is heated so the vapors can be inhaled.

The effects of cocaine appear instantaneously and can disappear within minutes. Smoking or injecting cocaine produces a quicker, more intense high that is more short-lived than the high from snorting cocaine, which lasts anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes.

Not all people respond to cocaine in the same way. Some people find it helps them focus on tasks and get them done more efficiently; while it makes other people act violently and are unpredictable. Some users may experience increased energy, paranoia, irritability, and hypersensitivity to sound and sight. However, cocaine is addictive and harmful to everyone, no matter which form it is taken or how long it has been used.

Cocaine High Short-Term Effects

When it comes to getting high from cocaine, there are typically two phases. The first phase is purely psychological and can create feelings of euphoria, arousal, increased sexual desire, mental clarity, rapid talking, and feelings of wellness. Although this phase is short, it is this stage of the high people chase.

Individuals who take increased doses experience strong feelings as well, but with more negative results. They can act aggressively, feel paranoid, experience hallucinations, or be irritable. During this phase a person’s heart rate and blood pressure will increase, the pupils will become dilated, and they might suffer from nausea, vomiting, or both.

The second phase of cocaine effects is the “down” side after the high wears off. People at this point begin to feel depressed, agitated, may experience insomnia, and cravings for the drug. Because the cycle of drug use is so intense, addicts want to feel the high as much as possible. They become dependent on the drug in order to feel and function normally. This cycle is what leads to drug abuse and specifically — cocaine addiction.

This addiction is what leads to overdose. When a person becomes tolerant to a drug, he or she must take it in more frequent intervals of time in order to achieve the same high as before. An addict who is still high from the last dose will immediately follow up with another one. When this level of cocaine becomes too much for the body to handle, it results in overdose.

Accidental overdose has become the top reason for accidental death in America with nearly 50,000 Americans dying due to this cause in 2014. If a person does survive a cocaine overdose, the brain, and heart, especially, are affected long-term. Individuals who overdose may experience severe chest pain and shortness of breath because they are not receiving enough oxygen. This can lead to a heart attack or stroke, which is another reason why a person who has overdosed needs immediate medical attention.

How Long Does Coke Last?

The initial high from cocaine does not that last that long, typically 20 to 30 minutes – however, this depends on the purity of the cocaine, the person’s tolerance, and how the drug is administered. How you administer cocaine is the main factor that determines how long cocaine will last in your body and system. When administered by injection or smoked/inhaled, the effects will last up to 30 minutes. If snorted, the coke high can last up to an hour. Cocaine highs last for a very short time compared to the permanent damage it can do to a body.

The brain naturally releases dopamine and recycles it back to the cell it’s released from. When dopamine is released during the use of cocaine, it is not recycled, which causes excessive amounts of it to build up.

This influx of dopamine disrupts normal brain functioning and leads to a sense of euphoria. Users who abuse cocaine often take several doses sequentially in order to achieve this high faster but causes disruption in the brain and its communication with other parts of the body.

How Is Cocaine Measured in the Body?

Cocaine is measured by a half-life or the length of time before the drug is reduced in the blood by half. Cocaine has a very short half-life of only 0.2 -0.8 hours. Although, the drug can be detected in the system for a much longer time.

Components of the drug may be detectable by a urine drug test for 2-3 days after the last dosage, but in chronic users, it can be traced for up to a week. Saliva and hair drug tests can detect the drug in the system for weeks after use, sometimes longer. Every person will metabolize the drug at a different rate due to factors such as weight, age, genetics, and how long they’ve been using cocaine.

How the body processes the drug will have an impact on how a person reacts to it and can eventually eliminate it from their system. Due to the many variables associated with cocaine use on an individual basis, there is no certainty of predicting adverse effects or long-term consequences regarding a person’s health or state of mind.

Symptoms of Cocaine Use

When a person experiences a high because of using cocaine, it is short-lived. Regular abusers of the drug often face insomnia, permanent cardiovascular damage, and mental health problems such a bipolar disease or depression. To consistently feel “high,” users will become dependent on the drug in order to function to what they perceive as normal.

Cocaine addicts and abusers not only face health effects as a result of ingesting the drug but also are at risk for how they use it. People who “shoot” cocaine using needles may contract HIV or hepatitis C due to the sharing of needles or using dirty ones. Blood poisoning and other blood-borne diseases are common among cocaine users who administer the drug by needle.

Other long-term health repercussions include hallucinations, decreased appetite leading to malnourishment, and intense paranoia. There are also gastrointestinal effects of cocaine, which can last for several hours as the drug can cause limitations of blood flow and constriction of blood vessels in the intestines. This can allow the development of gangrene, which if not treated with surgery immediately, will lead to death. These symptoms are followed by long-term effects such as the risk of heart attack, stroke, coma, or death.

All symptoms and reactions can happen to anyone at any time who is using cocaine. It’s not only chronic users who are at risk. No one is immune from its dangers.

How Can Cocaine Cause Addiction?

Simply speaking, cocaine is an addictive drug. When a person uses it repeatedly, there is a physiological change that takes place. The brain eventually adapts to the excess stream of dopamine caused by cocaine use, which makes it feel “normal” to be high. This leads to addiction because the person has reached a point to where they no longer know how to think or function without cocaine in their system.

Addiction is what causes people to continue to use, but they also do it to avoid the painful cocaine withdrawal symptoms the body goes through when too much time elapses between doses. Individuals who are going through drug withdrawal may experience extreme fatigue, depressed feelings, unpleasant dreams, or insomnia.

For people who don’t recognize they have a problem, they may attempt to stop drug use for a day or two, but quickly revert to old habits because of the drastic effect drugs has had on the body.

Treatment for Cocaine Abuse and Addiction

Abusing cocaine alters your everyday life. Your appearance changes physically, but it also affects your way of thinking, personality, and the way in which you communicate with others. Crack addicts often are unable to maintain a job, which leads to financial concerns and other stresses. This can spiral into problems with the law or confrontations with family and friends trying to help. A person cannot seek help for a problem they don’t believe they have.

Addiction makes it hard to face reality, but it can be overcome. With treatment, you can uncover the root of your addiction so that you will know what kind of triggers to look out for and how to cope with them in the future. Treatment also provides much-needed support both medically and emotionally for people who wish to pursue a sober lifestyle.

A person must first detox before entering any kind of treatment program. By going through the withdrawal process with the assistance of medical and professional help, it gives the person a better chance of success and seeing the process through to the end. Entering the withdrawal stage alone usually, ends in relapse. The beginning can be the hardest part to overcome. It works better when there’s help.

Following the detox period, there are several options available for treatment including inpatient treatment programs and outpatient care. Decide what’s most important to you. Do you want to be within proximity to your family? Do you want to take a few months away from your normal life so you can clearly focus on the goal? You get to choose your treatment center and plan.

Inpatient care offers an environment that separates the drug user from their current environment, which can help avoid temptations, negative influences, and other distractions which will ultimately deter their sobriety. Inpatient care also means that trained staff is available who have experience working with addicts and understands the challenges which may occur.

With inpatient care, a person is responsible for attending group therapy and classes to learn more about their addiction. Individual or group therapy is part of many programs and life skills are introduced to help addicts transition to life without drugs.

Outpatient care is often an extension of treatment for people, even if they’ve completed inpatient care. However, some people may choose outpatient care as a separate option altogether to be closer to home or to uphold obligations at work or school.

There are benefits to both types of care and it’s important to assess what will work best in the long run so that a person entering rehab feels secure and comfortable enough to be able to last the duration of the program.

Seeking Help for Cocaine Addiction

It’s a slippery slope between cocaine use and addiction. With most substance abuse, the only way to prevent it at all is not to use it to begin with. Addiction is a hard obstacle to overcome, especially alone. We are here to help you find the kind of treatment that will be most successful for you. It’s up to you if you’re ready to embrace sobriety and leave the life of drug use behind.

The resources and tools you need to succeed and start anew are available. If you’re ready to make the first step towards treatment, let us know how we can help. We have worked with addicts and their loved ones over the years and helped them make a fresh start and find long-lasting solutions for healthier, happier futures. We can help you, too.


Weber, Lee. “ How Long Does Cocaine Last?” Addiction Blog. 3 April 2014. 6 Mar. 2019.

“Cocaine” NIDA. 6 Mar. 2019.

“What Is Cocaine?” WebMD. 6 Mar. 2019.


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