02 Apr How Long Does Cocaine Stay in Your System?
Cocaine is a highly addictive, powerful stimulant that produces a brief feeling of euphoria causing users to want to continually “chase the high.” If you are wondering, “how long does cocaine stay in your system?”, we would like to explore the many factors that affect the detection time of the drug.
The cocaine metabolite can remain detectable in the system for up to three to five days and in some instances, longer, depending on if there’s been chronic use. The drug’s presence in the body is measured by its “half-life”, or the time it takes for the concentration of cocaine to be reduced by half in the blood. If you’ve recently used cocaine, you may be wondering:
● How long does cocaine stay in your blood?
● How long does cocaine stay in your urine?
● How long does cocaine stay in your hair?
Whether you are looking to pass a drug test or simply want to get clean, the time that cocaine is detectable within the system varies on several factors including how long you’ve used cocaine, last amount used, and the type of test used to detect the drug in your system. A testing breakdown reveals:
● A urine test shows cocaine in the system for 2-3 days, but can detect it for up to a week for chronic cocaine users;
● Cocaine can be detected in the system for blood testing for up to 48 hours; and
● Saliva, sweat, and hair are all alternatives ways to track the drug in the system. By using any of these testing methods, cocaine may be detected up to weeks or even years.
In most situations, urine drug testing is the most preferable of drug tests due to its wider window of detection when compared to blood or saliva testing. It’s also commonly chosen since it’s relatively non-invasive. Although hair testing delivers the largest detection window, several factors can alter these results and disrupt its accuracy. Therefore, it is not relied on as heavily as other methods and you can expect to be subjected to a urine test when the time comes.
Typically, people subject to random drug tests are concerned about its lasting effects in the system. If you are concerned about cocaine use or if cocaine addiction or abuse has affected you or someone you love, detox as part of a full rehabilitation treatment plan can give you the support you need. There is help available with recovery options designed to meet each person’s particular needs.
Ways Cocaine Is Used
Cocaine users ingest the drug in different forms. The powdered form can either be snorted through the nose or dissolved and injected directly into the bloodstream. The rock crystal form of cocaine, also known as crack cocaine, is smoked. When heated, the “crack rock” produce vapors that are absorbed through the lungs.
Drug use involving syringes creates another area of concern due to diseases, such as HIV, that can be transmitted due to the sharing or improper disposal of needles. However, no matter how it is used, cocaine is a dangerous drug with long-term negative affects associated with it.
How Is Cocaine Metabolized?
As with alcohol and other illicit drugs, the liver does the majority of the work to metabolize cocaine. The liver helps break down cocaine so that it is more easily digested and eliminated, which mostly occurs through urination. The two most notable compounds that result from this process, benzoylecgonine and ecgonine methyl ester, are the cocaine metabolites aka the measurable element that detects cocaine remaining in the body.
How Long Does a Cocaine “High” Last?
The duration of a cocaine “high” depends on how it’s ingested. When injected or smoked, cocaine is absorbed directly into the bloodstream and ultimately, the brain, which leads to a quicker, stronger euphoric feeling, but with a shorter-lived high than snorting; typically, 5 to 10 minutes. Snorting cocaine, on the other hand, releases a high that can last up to 30 minutes.
Due to these short bursts of time, drug users tend to binge on the drug to maintain its potency by ingesting it over and over in higher doses over a small period. This repetitive use can easily manifest into addiction and have major, long-term effects on the brain and body.
How Does Cocaine Affect the Brain?
As a stimulant, cocaine increases the levels of dopamine in the brain, which leads to the euphoric feelings that users experience. In typical instances, dopamine is recycled back to the cell that released it, but cocaine prevents this part from happening. As a result, excessive amounts of dopamine build up and alter normal brain functioning and communication.
Essentially, the “high” that cocaine users want to feel is amplified dopamine. Cocaine abusers may eventually build up a tolerance and to seek the same feeling, but fail to reach the point of pleasure they did from their first experience. This need leads to addiction and users tend to increase their dosage to prolong that initial high and ultimately, can result in an overdose.
Varying Health Effects of Cocaine Abuse
Euphoria and strong boosts in energy are what users experience, which makes cocaine and crack cocaine seem like such an alluring drug. However, these pleasures don’t ever last long and can have immediate, damaging health effects.
Cocaine abusers may experience anxiety, paranoia, or panic attacks even after a single use. Repeated use can lead to sleep problems, increased risk of suicidal thoughts, and damage to the central nervous system and cardiovascular system. These longer-lasting risks can affect the body long after use.
In fact, the American Heart Association refers to cocaine as “the perfect heart-attack drug” based on the detrimental effects it has on the heart. Anyone who uses cocaine, whether recreational users or full-blown addicts, is subject to the same dangers. These include stiffening of the arteries, higher blood pressure, and thicker heart walls – all of which can lead to a heart attack.
In worst case scenarios, cocaine abuse may lead to an accidental overdose and death. The National Institute on Drug Abuse has seen an upward trend over the past few years of cocaine-induced deaths. In 2014, over 47,000 people in the U.S. died from a drug overdose.
An overdose occurs when the high has worn off, and the drug user wants to regain the same feeling without accounting for how much cocaine has already been ingested. Symptoms of overdose may include nosebleed, heavy sweating, an aggressive manner, and excessive chattering. Following these visible indicators, the user may suffer shortness of breath and may choke or vomit. When someone overdoses on cocaine, it can be fatal and requires immediate medical attention.
Ways an Overdose Affects the Heart
There are multiple ways a drug overdose can affect the heart. It may begin with the user experiencing severe chest pressure or pain as the arteries responsible for carrying blood to the heart constrict. When this occurs, the heart is being denied oxygen and blood.
As the heart reaches this state of crisis, it works extra hard, which may lead to stroke, heart attack, or other adverse cardiovascular event, even if the person is otherwise relatively healthy and has not previously experienced heart conditions. Additionally, the blood pressure and heart rate will elevate to a dangerous level leading to heart failure. And, irregular heart rhythms can happen, which can lead to death.
How an Overdose Affects Your Brain
It’s not only the heart that’s affected when a person overdoses on cocaine. The brain suffers just as much. Seizures, tremors, and convulsions are common reactions. Or, in some cases, the brain’s blood vessels may rupture, leading to a fatal aneurysm.
Due to the severe shakeup to the brain, an overdose can make nerve cells unable to properly communicate, and the user may experience jaw grinding, shaky legs or arms, or other uncontrolled muscle movements. On the other hand, an overdose may cause a person to become paralyzed, unable to move altogether and unable to call for help. Should a person survive an overdose, there are still major health issues that result. It doesn’t matter if the person is no longer using cocaine, the damage has been done, which can affect that person forever.
Cocaine Addiction and Abuse Treatment
Cocaine addiction is complex because it not only involves changes physically but alters a person’s behavior, mood, ability to communicate and function. It carries a heavy burden on family, work, and other relationships. By definition, it can be difficult to overcome.
Once a person has become addicted to cocaine, the brain experiences significant, biological changes. Any type of treatment has to tackle the problem head-on from all angles for a successful recovery to ensure. Not only on a physical level, but an emotional and psychological one, too. During the rehabilitation phase, it’s not unlikely for co-occurring disorders, such as bipolar disease or schizophrenia, to be revealed. It’s important to find a facility with a properly-trained medical staff in place to know how to handle any underlying issues that may arise.
Recovery from cocaine addiction and abuse must be addressed from both a medical and a behavioral standpoint. When it comes to alcohol or drug addiction, certain medications can ease cravings and help make the detox process more effective, especially when guided by medical supervision and support. For example, disulfiram is used to treat alcoholism and has been found to produce the most consistent results in reducing cocaine abuse. However, it should be noted that at the present moment, the FDA has not approved any specific medications to treat cocaine addiction.
Behavioral therapy is an equally important part in the recovery process to help cocaine addicts refrain from using the drug and to help prevent any relapse once they’ve stopped using. This requires the introduction of problem-solving skills, support, education, and counseling to recognize situations where a person is most likely to use cocaine and what tools can be implemented to avoid these instances.
Individual counseling sessions, in addition to support groups for cocaine addicts, are part of treatment, although aren’t required for every case. For treatment and recovery to work, each person must have the opportunity to receive a customized plan to meet their own treatment needs. Some may benefit from inpatient or residential options while others may seek an outpatient setting. Not every addict has the same health history, challenges, or paths to recovery, but integrating both the medical and behavioral sides of treatment has proven to be highly effective for all.
Reach Out for Help
Do you actively use cocaine? Are you ready to eliminate it from your life permanently and never worry about drug testing again? Cocaine abuse can turn your life upside down, but there are options to get back on track. Explore the treatment options available at Georgia Drug Detox and know that there is a right fit for you. Although many treatment structures generally follow the same steps, the timelines and approaches differ. The time for healing starts when you’re ready.
Cocaine addiction is scary and, as mentioned before, difficult to overcome. Whether you are dealing with addiction yourself or have experienced it with a loved one who is suffering, it takes dedication to find a sober path. Remember that dedication isn’t impossible and with the right program and determined state of mind, it can and has been achieved.
Want to get started? Contact us today for find the program to best suit your needs. We’re here to help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call us anytime.