Cocaine is powerfully addictive for a drug: It’s a stimulant that affects your brain directly, giving you that ‘high’ feeling. Call it crack or coke, you may wonder how long it stays in your body after snorting it. Read on find out more about how long cocaine is detectable in the system.
What Is Cocaine?
Scientifically, it’s known as benzoylmetylecgonine and it’s used strictly for medical purposes due to its ability to be used as a local anaesthetic. By the early 1900s, cocaine became the main stimulant used to treat various ailments. Due to the strong effects it has on your body, people have been using cocaine illicitly for many years. In fact, it’s the second most commonly used illegal drug in the UK.
The Different Types of Cocaine
Different chemical process produces different kind of cocaine. Powdered form is cocaine in hydrochloride salt, and it is commonly known as ‘coke’, usually absorbed to the body by snorting or injecting with a syringe after diluting the powdered drug. Crack cocaine on the other hand, is when cocaine is in ‘freebase’ form (a compound that hasn’t been neutralised by an acid) and can be smoked.
The Effects of Cocaine
Snorting crack gives a potent, nearly instantaneous effect. As cocaine enters your body, it works its way to get ‘play’ with your brain via the bloodstream. Cocaine inhibits the chemical receptors in the brain (called neurotransmitters) that are normally used to communicate signals among each other and stops them from being reabsorbed. Over a certain period (in this case, for a short time), a build up of neurotransmitters form along the brain tissues between the nerves, causing you to feel euphoric.
Sure you’d feel high, alert, and snorting coke gives you a sense like you’ve accomplished a lot of things. But to what cost? In the end after the effect wears off (usually within a couple of hours), you may feel irritated, restless, and depressed than ever. Smoke it too much, cocaine will put a considerable effect to the heart, lungs, brain, and able to cause you a sudden death.
How Long Can Cocaine Stay in Your Body for?
How long cocaine can get out from your body is greatly depends on your metabolic cycle and it’s a common misconception that it only takes a couple of days to have cocaine metabolise out of your body.
Some people may metabolise cocaine within a short period while other may do not. It is also depend on how much cocaine you’ve had in your body at one time so obviously the higher the amounts you snorted the longer it takes to get out completely from your body.
How Long Does Cocaine Stay In Your System?
- The amount of drug taken.
- How frequently the drug is being taken
- Individual body weight and height.
- Overall rate of metabolism, which depends on an individual’s levels of activity and health status.
How Long Will Cocaine Show Up on a Drug Test?
There are different kinds of cocaine drug tests,the most commonly used tests will screen urine or saliva for the drug. A urine drug test is more commonly used than a saliva test because the time frame for detecting cocaine is longer.
How long does it take for cocaine (or crack) to clear out of urine?
Detection times for cocaine in urine are significantly greater than detection times in saliva. When urine is being screened for the presence of cocaine, it is actually benzoylecgonine, a metabolite of cocaine, that is being measured. The widely accepted time period for benzoylecgonine to be cleared from the urine is three to five days. However, the time period for heavy users of cocaine can be longer, with one study suggesting that benzoylecgonine can be detected in chronic cocaine users for 10-14 days.
Urine Drug Tests for Cocaine
How long can cocaine (or crack) be detected in saliva?
Typically cocaine can be detected by a saliva drug test over a period of 24 to 48 hours after the last use. Once again, this time may vary according to each person’s metabolism, as well as the quantity and quality of the drug that was consumed.
Saliva Drug Tests for Cocaine
Combining Cocaine and Alcohol Can Keep Cocaine in System Longer
Mixing cocaine with another drug, such as alcohol, is common among people that use the drug. Polysubstance use is never a good idea and the combination of cocaine and alcohol is particularly dangerous. The mixing of these two drugs produces a further toxic chemical called cocaethylene, or ethylbenzoylecgonine. This chemical is much more toxic than cocaine and it has a longer half-life than cocaine.
When the substance is present in the body, further stress is put upon the heart and liver for even longer periods. Some drug users may then show stronger reactions that may result in them to becoming aggressive or violent.
- Photo Credit: “Cocaine” (CC BY 2.0) by The Drug Users Bible
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- This post was originally published in 2016. Last updated: 16th October 2020.