How long does cocaine stay in your system?

Cocaine is a very powerful and highly addictive drug. It can be snorted through your nose, rubbed on your gum, smoked, or injected.

It is a very fine white powder and is often mixed with baking flour or corn starch to increase profits. Heavy cocaine use can lead to unpleasant physical symptoms such as headaches, nausea, palpitations, seizures and even coma.

You will normally begin to feel the effects of cocaine almost immediately if you smoke or inject it, and within minutes if you snort it or rub it on your gum.

The level of the high you can expect depends on a number of factors including the method by which you administered cocaine, the amount you took, and how many times you have used the drug in the past.

How long do the effects of cocaine last?

Usually, the effects of cocaine can last anywhere between 10 minutes and 30 minutes. However, as with the level of high, this is largely dependent on how you administered it.

Smoking or injecting cocaine will give you a high lasting around 10 or 15 minutes.

Snorting or rubbing it on your gum will give you a high lasting for around 20 to 30 minutes.

As the highs are relatively brief, many people end up taking multiple doses frequently in order to continue to feel the high.

This causes users to build up a tolerance to the drug and means that they need to take higher doses each time they take it to continue to feel the same effect as the first time they used it.

What variables affect cocaine’s longevity in your system?

There are several factors that need to be considered when talking about the longevity of cocaine in your system

. It is important to note that everyone is different and there is no exact answer to how long cocaine stays in your system or how each of these factors affects how cocaine is processed by the body.

The main factors are:

  • The amount of cocaine taken

Taking higher doses of cocaine inevitably means that the substance will stay in your system longer.

  • The frequency of your cocaine use

Taking cocaine often keeps traces of it in your system for longer as you are consistently topping up the levels.

  • How it was administered

Smoking or injecting cocaine usually means that it leaves your system quicker than if it was snorted or rubbed on your gum.

  • The purity of the product

Lots of drug dealers mix cocaine with other fine white powder such as flour to increase their profits. The purer your cocaine is, the longer it will stay in your system.

  • Your weight

Having higher levels of body fat means that cocaine will take longer to leave your system.

  • Alcohol consumption

Alcohol affects your metabolism, meaning that taking cocaine when you have been drinking alcohol can make it stay in your system for longer than if you took it when you were not consuming alcohol.

How is cocaine detected in my system?

There are several ways in which cocaine can be detected in your system, and each test can trace a different amount of cocaine. For example, you might get a negative blood test but a positive hair sample test.

The ways in which cocaine can be detected in your system are:

  • A blood test

A blood test can find traces of cocaine in your system for up to 2 days after it was taken.

  • A urine test

A urine test can find traces of cocaine in your system for up to 4 days after it was taken.

  • A saliva test

A saliva test can find traces of cocaine in your system for up to 2 days after it was taken.

  • A hair follicle test

A hair follicle test can find traces of cocaine in your system for up to 3 months after cocaine was taken (1).

Are there ways to speed up the process of removing cocaine from my system?

Many people online claim to know home remedies that will help remove cocaine from your system faster. This is untrue. After you have taken cocaine, there are no ways to speed up the process of removing it from your system.

The only way to safely remove all traces of cocaine from your system is to stop taking it immediately, drink plenty of water and allow your body to break down the cocaine and get rid of it itself.

I am pregnant/breastfeeding and have taken cocaine – what can I do?

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding and have taken cocaine, it is vital that you contact your healthcare provider immediately and let them know. Cocaine can affect your baby if you are pregnant or breastfeeding and it is best to have the help, support, and advice of a medical professional.

Cocaine can have negative effects on pregnancy and can cause miscarriage, premature birth, low birth weight, placental abruption (when the placenta separates from the wall of the uterus) or behavioural issues later in life (2).

If you are breastfeeding and have recently taken cocaine, it is advisable to wait 24 hours after you have taken cocaine before you breastfeed your baby again (3).

What factors can affect how long cocaine stays in the system?

While the timeframes above are the general durations which cocaine would remain present within the body, they are susceptible to several factors.

Each individual will have a different experience depending on the circumstances of their situation, such as the following.

1. How much cocaine an individual has taken

As with many other bodily functions, the more the body has to do, the longer a process will take.

If an individual has taken a particularly large dose of cocaine, or their increased tolerance means that they regularly take significant amounts of it, the body will take longer to properly break it down into metabolites.

As a result, the body might still be breaking the cocaine down a while after it was taken, and therefore causing the presence of the resulting metabolites to last much longer.

If an individual takes very little, the body will get through it much more quickly, reducing this duration.

2. How frequently cocaine is taken

When an individual takes cocaine once, the body processes it quite quickly, resulting in it lasting within the system for the duration mentioned above.

If use is frequent, however, then the body is constantly having to break down more cocaine. It is continually turning it into metabolites, and these substances are constantly being replenished from further cocaine use.

As a result, the presence of cocaine within the body will be sustained.

3. How long an individual has used cocaine for

For those who have used cocaine for years, the body reacts differently to its entry into the system.

After such sustained use, an individual’s body begins storing cocaine within fatty tissues. This is because the body becomes less and less capable of breaking it down, and therefore looks to deal with it however it can.

As a result, it can go for quite a while without being broken down, and therefore remain within the body for longer.

4. How cocaine is ingested into the body

Like many heavy drugs, cocaine can be ingested into the body through a variety of methods. Recreational drugs tend to have varied effects depending on how they are used, and cocaine is no different.

As well as the immediate ‘high’, how an individual takes cocaine can also affect how long it lasts within their system.

If an individual snorts cocaine or dabs it onto their gums, it is likely to remain within their system longer than, for example, if they were to inject it or smoke it. The latter method is known for its intense but very brief effects.

5. Whether any other substances are taken alongside cocaine

With recreational drugs, it is common for individuals to combine different substances in order to achieve a more intense or lengthy ‘high’. For example, an individual may consume alcohol while under the effects of cocaine.

This can also affect the presence of cocaine within the system, as it will likely last longer within the body if consumed alongside alcohol.

6. An individual’s weight and metabolism

Much like with the digestion of food, the body’s metabolism plays a large role in how cocaine is broken down.

If an individual has a fast metabolism, their body is able to break the substance down into metabolites much faster, and therefore shorten the amount of time it is present within the system.

Weight can also factor in here, as cocaine will last longer the more bodily fat an individual has.

7. The purity of the cocaine taken

Due to it being an illegal substance in the UK, those who take cocaine regularly need to acquire via illicit means.

As a result, it common for the purity of cocaine to vary between users, and this can have a great influence.

Pure cocaine lasts for much longer in the body, whereas that which is ‘watered-down’ or mixed with another substance will pass through much faster.

What are the signs and symptoms of cocaine addiction?

If you are worried about a loved one who you believe may have developed a dependency on cocaine, it is helpful to know the signs and symptoms of a regular cocaine user, so you know what to look out for.

Some of the symptoms are:

  • Anxiety or depression
  • Insomnia
  • Mood swings
  • Paranoia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased confidence
  • Frequent runny nose
  • Irritability
  • Financial troubles
  • Legal issues
  • Being vague about where they have been or who they have been with

If you or someone you know is currently dealing with a cocaine addiction, don’t be afraid to reach out to your healthcare provider for help. They will not judge you and will ensure you get the help you need to overcome your addiction and guide you towards a healthier path.