31 Aug How Long Does Cocaine Stay in Your Blood?
How long does cocaine stay in your blood? Cocaine is an illicit substance also referred to as “coke” or “crack.” It’s a powerfully addictive drug, which produces a euphoric feeling that is very short-lived. However, this fleeting state is enough to make users continue to abuse the drug and eventually become addicted.
There is no one answer for how long cocaine can be detected as it depends on a number of drug testing factors. The half-life of cocaine is the time it takes for it to be reduced by half in the blood. Typically speaking, the drug is detectable for up to three days in the blood, sometimes longer, if there is chronic use.
Detection time differs based on a number of factors. To provide an estimated time for how long cocaine will stay in your blood stream, there are various testing methods to track it in the body. A urine test, for example, will show cocaine in the system within 48-72 hours after use, but has a detection window of up to 7 days for people who use the drug on a regular basis.
With blood testing cocaine can be traced up to 48 hours, and with saliva or hair samples, cocaine can be tested for and detected for weeks after use. In some rarer instances, years.
Drug Detection: How long does cocaine stay in your blood system?
Detecting cocaine in the blood also is determined by how long the person has used cocaine, the last time it was used, and how much was ingested. An individual who has used the drug for a longer period of time or ingests high doses more frequently will have traces of cocaine in the blood for much longer than someone who hasn’t ingested a significant amount.
The liver is primarily responsible for breaking down cocaine in the system, as with alcohol and other illicit drugs. After it is metabolized, it’s then eliminated from the body, usually through the urine.
It should be pointed out that people who use cocaine typically don’t follow a one-and-done use. One use of cocaine can automatically make a person crave more. The more a person abuses the drug, the more dependent they become. Eventually, their craving becomes uncontrollable, and this is where addiction takes over.
Cocaine Vs. Crack: What’s the Difference?
Crack is what’s more commonly referred to as the street name for cocaine when buying and selling it. Cocaine and crack are the same drug, just different forms. Users typically snort cocaine in a white powder form, crack is smoked from a rock crystal that’s heated so that the user can inhale the fumes/smoke.
Both methods allow the drug to become immediately absorbed into the bloodstream, leading to the quick high that is coveted by drug abusers and addicts. It lasts all of 5, possibly 10, minutes before the euphoria is gone and the body craves another hit.
The need to meet this craving is what causes people to accidentally overdose. As someone becomes more acclimated to the drug, the more they need to reach the same high. It can overwhelm the brain, heart, and other organs to the point of a drug-induced coma or fatality.
If you suspect a loved one is suffering from cocaine abuse, look for paraphernalia associated with the drug, such as needles, white powdery residue, razor blades (to “cut” the cocaine), and lighters. These items in combination with abnormal behavior are clear signs someone you know may have a drug problem.
Due to its potent nature and addictive element, only one use of cocaine can lead to problems down the road with abuse. It’s better to identify an issue early on, if possible, to get help right away.
How Cocaine Affects the Health
Five to ten minutes of a cocaine high is nothing compared to the long-term health effects a person can suffer. Many cocaine users experience side effects such as panic attacks, paranoia, and anxiety. Those who use the drug may also suffer from insomnia, mental health conditions, and severe damage to the heart and cardiovascular system. The effect is so serious that some people refer to cocaine as the “heart attack drug.”
Despite these scary scenarios, the worst case is an accidental overdose, which happens all too often in America. There has been a surge in fatalities due to crack cocaine overdose. Nearly 47,000 Americans died from a drug overdose in 2014. No one is protected from its dangers. No one escapes without some harm being done.
Since cocaine is a stimulant, the levels of dopamine in the brain are increased, which is the reason for the euphoric feelings. In typical instances, dopamine becomes recycled back to the cell which released it, but cocaine doesn’t allow this to happen. The result: too much dopamine built up in the brain, which leads to abnormal brain functioning and communication.
If a person does overdose from cocaine, the heart and brain are deeply affected and may suffer permanent damage. Although an accidental overdose seems unlikely, when a person has no control over their addiction, they don’t realize how much of the drug they’ve ingested in a short amount of time.
Rather than one line of coke, they may snort several in a row. All of which rushes immediately to the bloodstream and passes through to the rest of the body. When an overdose occurs, the heart does not receive an adequate oxygen supply and, as a result may suffer a stroke or heart attack. Before this, the user may experience a shortness of breath, nosebleed, profuse sweating, aggressive behavior, or vomiting. Emergency medical attention is required if a person has overdosed.
Damage to the Heart and Brain from Cocaine Use
Cocaine affects the entire body in a negative way and can become a destroyer of regular physical, emotional, and psychological functioning. For example, someone who uses cocaine may experience intense chest pain because the heart is denied oxygen and fresh blood.
When the heart is in this critical condition, it overcompensates by working harder, which is why they are at greater risk for stroke or other cardiovascular emergencies. A person may also suffer from extreme blood pressure and a rising heart rate, which subsequently results in heart failure, irregular heartbeats, coma, or death.
The brain takes an equally hard hit when under the influence of cocaine, especially if a person has overdosed. Physical reactions such as tremors, seizures, and convulsions are common. Additionally, there is a risk for a brain aneurysm if the blood vessels rupture as a result.
If a person survives an overdose, the brain and heart are both weakened and affected for the long term, which doesn’t seem like a comparison at all to the five short minutes of substance-controlled euphoria a person experiences. It seems more like an unfair trade.
Treatment for Cocaine Addiction
For people concerned with how long cocaine stays in the blood, it may be because they are worried about passing a drug screening rather than trying to receive treatment for substance abuse. However, this time without using, however, short it may be, is a good opportunity to consider the damage cocaine use does and look into a treatment plan.
Drug withdrawal is not pleasant and is one of the main reasons addicts are unwilling to give up cocaine. The side effects can be extremely painful and uncomfortable as the body has become used to “operating” with drugs. The thing to keep in mind when going through drug withdrawal or detox of any kind is the first few days are the worst.
That is one reason why it’s strongly recommended to seek treatment at a professional facility rather than attempt to go through drug withdrawal alone. The will to quit is not typically enough on its own. Addiction has a powerful pull on the body. Once a person is a cocaine addict, the brain has already gone through a serious change in its physiological makeup. An addict has less control over their decisions.
Only properly trained medical staff can truly regulate drug withdrawal in a safe way that leads to a more promising outcome of success than someone going at it alone. Even after cocaine has cleared from the system, there are the symptoms of withdrawal that take effect, and when faced alone, may easily lead to relapse starting the cycle all over again.
Treatment is available for those who wish to quit the cycle of abuse. When you decide to seek help for drug addiction, you are immediately surrounded by medical, professional, and emotional support to help you through the stages of the process and be there with you even after the rehabilitation is over.
What to Expect in Rehab
Each person will have a different path to recovery. It’s customized based on the facility you choose, your rehabilitation process, and several other factors which make each experience unique. Many facilities follow a similar timeline of recovery, which includes detox, rehabilitation, and post-care services, but they can be adjusted depending on the person’s individual needs.
Some people may be entering detox for the first time; while others may have been through the program before, but have relapsed and need to start again. Some may have tried inpatient care and were not successful and wish to try another route or vice-versa.
Rehab is a place of support for those who live with drug problems and addiction. It is a safe and comfortable place of acceptance to help people gain their sobriety. There are rehab facilities in the mountains, by lakes, or other peaceful atmospheres. There are places close-to-home if that is important, and destinations available away from your current day-to-day living, if you need to get away.
To overcome addiction, it’s important that a person takes the time to understand it and go through the treatment process. Common questions in rehab are: Where does the addiction stem? What are the triggers? How can they be dealt with in the future in a healthy manner? These come up during either individual or group therapy to get down to the root of the problem and work on solutions for it.
Part of rehabilitation also includes education about addiction, coping skills, and other tools and exercises to prepare a person for life after drugs. Addicts become used to drug use in their daily lives and may not remember how to function without it. It’s important once a person becomes sober, there is ample support readily available showcasing a life without cocaine and what can be done if tempted in the future.
Seek Help Today
Cocaine can change the course of a person’s life after just one use. Addicts risk their jobs, friendships, relationships, and lives every time they use. If you feel like your life has gone off track, now is the time to right the path.
If you or someone you know is using cocaine and want help getting rid of it for good, we can help. There are several options for you to explore until you find the one best fit for you. There is a structure to the rehabilitation process that helps provide stability where there is uncertainty. Hope among despair.
Living with addiction is a scary lifestyle and can be difficult to change alone. While it takes a strong commitment to stick with sobriety, the outcome is worth it – not only to your well-being but for the welfare of those around you.
Our professionals are ready to support you, whenever you’re willing to change your lifestyle for the better. It’s never too late to get the treatment you need and turn your life around. Don’t let cocaine take over your life any more than it has. Give yourself a chance at a more positive future starting now. Get the help you deserve today.
T, Buddy, “How Long Does Cocaine Stay in Your System?” Verywell Mind. 13 Nov. 2018. 7 Mar. 2019. https://www.verywellmind.com/how-long-does-cocaine-stay-in-your-system-80231
Weber, Lee. “How Long Does Cocaine Stay in Blood, Hair, or Urine?” Addiction Blog. 26 Dec. 2013. 7 Mar. 2019.
“How Long Do Drugs Stay in Your System?” Drug.ie. 7 Mar. 2019. http://www.drugs.ie/drugs_info/about_drugs/how_long_do_drugs_stay_in_your_system/