How Long Does Cocaine Stay in Your System?

What is cocaine?

Cocaine, coke, blow, white, and charlie, are all names for the highly addictive stimulant drug, derived from the coca plant; cocaine. Cocaine has some medical purposes – it has previously been used in surgery as an anaesthetic.1 However, cocaine is more often used as a recreational drug, which is dangerous as it is a highly addictive substance.
Usually snorted, smoked, injected, or rubbed on the gums, cocaine causes an intense, short-lived high in users. User often report pleasurable feelings of:

  • Euphoria
  • Improved Focus
  • Increased Alertness

Due to its short lived effects and it’s powerful influence over the brain’s reward system2, cocaine addiction often drives users to keep using it. This is dangerous, however, as the body’s tolerance to cocaine builds quickly and can be extremely habit-forming.
How long does cocaine stay in your system?
If you’re curious about how long cocaine stays in your system, it may be because you have been using cocaine, or someone you know has been using. If you notice cocaine use in yourself or someone else and it appears to be a problem, it is highly important that you seek professional help. Cocaine abuse can have drastic effects on a person’s life and on the lives of their loved ones.
When taking cocaine, the body immediately begins to break the substance down into substances known as metabolites. These linger in the system, and can be detected by certain medical tests, including:

  • Blood Test

A blood sample is taken and can show traces of cocaine for up to two days after use.

  • Saliva Test

A sample of saliva is extracted and can show traces of cocaine for up to two days after last use.

  • Urine Test

Urine is collected and shows traces of cocaine in the system for up to four days after last use.

  • Hair Test

Samples of hair show traces of cocaine for the longest time of all tests – cocaine can be detected for up to 90 days after last use with a hair test.
What affects how long cocaine stays in the system?
The above tests detect cocaine in the system from two to ninety days. The length of stay depends on a number of factors, such as:

  • The amount of cocaine taken
    Higher doses mean that cocaine stays in the system for longer.
  • The method of intake
    When snorted or dabbed on the gums, cocaine stays in the system for longer than if it was smoked or injected.
  • Use with other substances
    Cocaine use combined with alcohol use makes cocaine stay in the system longer.
  • Body weight and rate of metabolism
    Higher levels of body fat increase the length of time stays in the system.

How does Cocaine work?
Cocaine produces its effects by binding to dopamine transporters in the brain.3 When this happens, normal reuptake of dopamine is inhibited, meaning that the synapse becomes flooded with dopamine. This is how cocaine produces its euphoric effects.
Dangers of Cocaine and Alcohol
The combined use of cocaine and alcohol poses a serious health risk, according to the Journal of Medical Toxicology.4 When combined, these substances form a new substance known as cocaethylene. Also known as ethylbenzoylecgonine5, this substance has harmful effects that are greater than the effects of cocaine and alcohol individually.
Cocaethylene production happens in the liver, according to The Neurochemistry of Abused Drugs.6 When in detox, the main organ of focus is the liver. The liver is responsible for breaking down waste products to be eliminated from the body through urine. When cocaine and alcohol are used at the same time, they are both metabolised in the liver. As a result of the metabolic process, cocaethylene is created.
Alcohol slows down the liver’s rate of metabolism, meaning that some of the cocaethylene (about 20 percent) created as a result of polydrug use remains in the liver for a long time.
Continued alcohol use further disrupts the liver’s ability to eliminate cocaethylene, so it passes from the liver back into the bloodstream, where it begins to affect a number of body tissues and organs.7

What are the symptoms of cocaine addiction?

Cocaine abuse and addiction can have dire, even fatal consequences. It is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of cocaine addiction so that you can notice the presence of an addiction in yourself or someone you know. When you are aware of the signs of symptoms, you can seek professional help, which is important for a successful recovery. Addiction is a progressive condition, meaning that the earlier it is treated, the greater the chance of recovery. Signs and symptoms of cocaine addiction include:

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Panic
  • Paranoia
  • Psychosis
  • Mood swings
  • Lies and secrecy about cocaine use
  • Theft (to fund the addiction)
  • Sweating
  • Breathing problems
  • Depression
  • Increased heart rate

Cocaine Addiction Recovery at Addcounsel

When misused, cocaine use can cause serious health, financial, and legal issues. Relationships and work or school can also be significantly negatively impacted. The good news is that cocaine addiction is treatable and many people recover.
At Addcounsel, we offer expert-led cocaine rehabilitation services across the UK and worldwide.
Rehab with Addcounsel includes:

  • Comprehensive addiction and general health assessment
  • Medically assisted and supervised detoxification program
  • In-patient residential or outpatient treatment
  • Individual, group, and family therapy
  • Access to 12-step recovery support groups
  • Comprehensive aftercare

Addcounsel for Successful Recovery
At Addcounsel, we aim to support recovery by placing clients at the centre of focus and by tailoring treatment options to suit the individual needs of our clients. We truly believe that recovery is possible when it is supported by appropriate treatment options and access to recovery support groups. We offer expert-led, completely anonymous, comprehensive treatment options for problems related to substance use and mental and behavioural health.

1 Redman, Melody. “Cocaine: What is the Crack? A Brief History of the Use of Cocaine as an Anesthetic.” Anesthesiology and pain medicine vol. 1,2 (2011): 95-7. doi:10.5812/kowsar.22287523.1890
2 Adinoff, Bryon. “Neurobiologic processes in drug reward and addiction.” Harvard review of psychiatry vol. 12,6 (2004): 305-20. doi:10.1080/10673220490910844
3 NIDA. “How does cocaine produce its effects?.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, 11 Jun. 2020, Accessed 24 Oct. 2020.
4 Farooq, Muhammad U et al. “Neurotoxic and cardiotoxic effects of cocaine and ethanol.” Journal of medical toxicology : official journal of the American College of Medical Toxicology vol. 5,3 (2009): 134-8. doi:10.1007/BF03161224
5 National Center for Biotechnology Information. “PubChem Compound Summary for CID 644006, Cocaethylene” PubChem, Accessed 24 October, 2020.
6 Karch, S., 2008. Neurochemistry Of Abused Drugs. Boca Raton: CRC Press.
7 Landry, M J. “An overview of cocaethylene, an alcohol-derived, psychoactive, cocaine metabolite.” Journal of psychoactive drugs vol. 24,3 (1992): 273-6. doi:10.1080/02791072.1992.10471648


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