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How Long Does It Take To Feel The Effects?

The method by which cocaine is administered—whether it’s injected, smoked, snorted, or taken orally—can impact both the duration and intensity of the effects. For instance, snorting cocaine can give a relatively slow onset of the high that may last from 15 to 30 minutes. This is because it has to get through mucus, skin, and other tissues before hitting your bloodstream. Smoking this drug, on the other hand, will result in more rapid effects that last five to 10 minutes. But this high is typically instantly followed by a crash that can cause anxiety and tension, agitation, depression, and exhaustion. It’s this quick cycle that makes cocaine so addictive.

How Long Cocaine Stays in System
Cocaine is included in just about every drug test available using urine and hair samples.  Learn more about cocaine urine drug tests.

How Long Do The Effects Last?

A cocaine “high” can affect individuals differently. However, generally, a high start almost immediately and can last up to a couple of hours. It sounds simple, but there’s a lot going on behind the scenes. Once a person ingests cocaine, whether by snorting, smoking, or intravenously, it instantly affects the brain. Cocaine disrupts the brain’s normal communication between neurons. Therefore, this causes a surge of the “feel-good” chemicals, such as serotonin and dopamine.

Excessive dopamine build-up is what causes the intense feeling of euphoria that we call high. It also serves as a stimulant, promoting excessive energy and excited talking. In addition to affecting the person’s brain, cocaine can also negatively affect the body as a whole. The duration of the effect depends on many factors, including the person’s health condition, duration of use, and purity of the drugs.

As with other psychoactive drugs, repeated use of cocaine can cause long-term changes in the brain’s reward circuit and other brain systems, which may lead to addiction. The reward circuit eventually adapts to the extra dopamine caused by the drug, becoming steadily less sensitive to it [1]. As a result, people take stronger and more frequent doses to feel the same high they did initially and to obtain relief from cocaine side effects and withdrawal.

how long cocaine stays in system

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Cocaine Effects Timeline 

Cocaine is a very fast-acting central nervous system stimulant that produces an intense but short-lived euphoric high, lasting for only a few minutes to an hour, depending on how it is used.

The speed of onset of cocaine’s effects, as well as the total duration of action, is influenced by the method of use:

  • Smoking: Effects felt within 5-10 seconds and persist for up to 20 minutes
  • Snorting: Effects felt within 3-5 minutes and persist for up to 20 minutes
  • Oral ingestion: Effects felt within 10-30 minutes and persist for up to 90 minutes
  • Intravenous use: Effects felt within 5-10 seconds and persist for up to 20 minutes

How Is Cocaine Detected? 

Cocaine metabolites are often detectable in a person’s urine for only two to three days after the last use of the drug. However, individuals who use large amounts of cocaine may have detectable levels for two weeks.

The liver is the organ in the body that is responsible for metabolizing cocaine. It breaks down the drug into smaller compounds that are called metabolites. A major cocaine metabolite is called benzoylecgonine, which is normally measured during a cocaine urine drug test to determine if a person has used cocaine recently since it can be detected in urine for a longer period of time than cocaine itself.

How Long Cocaine Stays in System
With urine drug testing, cocaine breaks down to the metabolite, and this is detected in cocaine urine drug tests.

There are several different methods to test if this drug is present in a person’s system.

  • Cocaine can be detected in sweat for up to a few weeks after last use.
  • Cocaine metabolites can often be detected in urine samples for two to three days after last use, but individuals who are heavy users may have detectable metabolites in their urine for up to two weeks.
  • Cocaine in blood samples is typically detectable for 12 hours after last use. Benzoylecgonine can be detected in blood for about 48 hours after the last use of the drug.
  • Hair samples may have detectable levels of cocaine for months and even years after last use.
  • Cocaine or its metabolites can be detected in saliva for about one to two days after last use.

Several different factors influence the amount of time that cocaine remains in an individual’s system.

  • An individual’s metabolism has an important influence on the amount of time that cocaine or any drug remains in an individual’s system.
  • The amount of cocaine a person uses and how often they use it can impact how long the drug remains in their system. Cocaine and its metabolites may be detectable for longer periods of time in heavy users.
  • Since most individuals who use cocaine obtain it from illicit sources, there is no regulation of the purity of that cocaine. Thus, the actual dosage of cocaine that a person uses can vary greatly. As aforementioned, the amount of cocaine that a person uses can affect how long it is present in their body.

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Cocaine’s Presence In The Body

You might be wondering how long does cocaine remain present in the body? There are a variety of factors that affect the time it takes for evidence of cocaine use to be eliminated. These include the volume and purity of cocaine consumed, how frequently and regularly it is used, individual physiology such as weight and body type, and the rate of metabolism which relates in part to the functionality of the liver.

Another important factor is the method of testing. Cocaine and its primary metabolite, benzoylecgonine, have a range of detection windows based on the body substance being tested. Testing of blood and saliva will reveal cocaine usage for 12 to 36 hours after the last use; sweat will contain evidence for several weeks; testing of hair can reveal a history of cocaine usage for up to 90 days. 

The most common method of testing is a urine drug screen or cocaine drug test. Cocaine and benzoylecgonine are detectable in urine for 2 to 5 days after a single-use. Binge usage or heavily repeated ingestion will result in a positive urine test for up to 12 days. That time period maybe even longer with chronic use.

Chronic use of cocaine results in the storage of the drug’s metabolites in the fatty tissues of the body, including the liver. However, these metabolites don’t remain stored. They are continuously released in the bloodstream even after the individual stops using the drug. Former chronic users of cocaine can test positive for a longer period of time.

The timeline for cocaine excretion can be further complicated by the coinciding use of alcohol. Not only is it dangerous to combine alcohol and cocaine due to the highly toxic effects on the body, but the resulting metabolite, cocaethylene, that is formed in the liver with concomitant use stays in the body longer than cocaine alone. So drinking alcohol and ingesting cocaine will further extend the time that a urine test will show positive drug use.

How Long Cocaine Stays in System
A cocaine urine drug test should be performed by a professional service using a laboratory certified by the Federal government. 

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Cocaine Drug Test

Cocaine drug tests work not by searching for the presence of cocaine but for proof that the body has recently metabolized (proving the ingestion of) cocaine. While cocaine takes roughly 6-24 hours to leave the body, the product created when the body metabolizes cocaine, benzoylecgonine, can be detected up to 5 days after the last consumption. Metabolites are substances that our bodies create after metabolizing a certain toxic substance. The process of metabolizing cocaine usually takes between 6 and 24 hours, depending on the height, weight, and metabolism speed of an individual.

Another factor that plays an important role in cocaine drug testing is the consumption of alcohol during and after the consumption of cocaine. Unlike most other drugs, cocaine reacts with alcohol to create a new substance called cocaethylene. This substance has a longer half-life than benzoylecgonine, meaning it will be detectable in one’s system for a longer period of time. In most cases, it takes up to seven days for cocaethylene to be completely cleaned out of a person’s body, provided they do not consume more cocaine or alcohol and remain properly hydrated during this period.

Cocaine Urine Drug Test

How long does cocaine stay in urine? A urine test is the most common one and is usually performed as a routine test in a company. Its non-invasiveness and ease of administration have made it an industry standard when it comes to company-wide scheduled drug testing. It is quite accurate, with most urine tests being able to detect levels of 300ng/l. A urine test will usually give positive results if the person being tested has ingested cocaine 2-5 days prior to the test giving a urine sample.

Hair Drug Test Cocaine

A hair sample test has the longest detection time, usually up to 90 days. However, it normally takes five to seven days for traces of cocaine metabolites to start accumulating in the hair. Another downside to this method is that the hair cocaine drug test requires specialized equipment, so it cannot be completed on the spot.

how long cocaine stays in system
Beware of an instant rapid cocaine urine drug test that may show a false-positive result for cocaine.

Cocaine In Blood Test

A blood test is the most accurate if administered during a detection period. However, it requires an invasive method to collect a sample, and the samples provided are generally small, which means that confirmation testing usually isn’t possible. Another benefit to this method is that it is virtually impossible to adulterate a sample for a blood test.

Cocaine Saliva Test

A saliva test has the shortest detection time but is the easiest and least invasive one to administer. The sample is taken with a cotton swab from the area between the gums and lower cheek, and it takes around 10 minutes to produce a result. The saliva test is rising in popularity among employers as it can be administered at random and on the spot. However, the downside is that it can be adulterated relatively easily, and its detection time rarely exceeds two days when testing for cocaine use.

How To Pass Cocaine Drug Test?

The only way to be absolutely certain of passing the cocaine urine drug test is to not ingest it. While abstaining from cocaine use for a limited period of time could be effective when testing is expected. As in the case of applying for a job, for instance, in cases random testing is conducted, the likelihood of a positive test is high with ongoing use of the drug.

False positives do sometimes happen, particularly with the immunoassay test. In the case of a positive result when there has been no cocaine use, the individual should have a gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) follow-up test done immediately. Incidents of false positives with the GC/MS are relatively rare, and it is essential to invalidate the results of the erroneous first test as quickly as possible.

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Cocaine Addiction Treatment Near Me

First and foremost, if you think that a loved one is abusing cocaine, you should first research the drug and addiction associated with it so that you can better understand what your loved one needs. Next, you must plan an intervention to provide your loved ones with options to battle their addiction in a safe and supportive environment. During this intervention, make sure that you offer compassion and support instead of judgment. Lastly, offer your support throughout the entire treatment process.

In addition, prolonged Cocaine use can have severe physical and psychological effects, so it is essential to seek treatment as soon as possible. Inpatient drug rehab offers intensive care that can help you get through the early stages of withdrawal promptly. There are several myths about cocaine and other drugs, so you might be wondering is cocaine a stimulant or depressant? And what are cocaine’s effects on the brain?

Medically-Assisted Detox

Detox is often considered the first stage of treatment. It will help you navigate the complicated process of withdrawal, but it doesn’t address patterns of thought and behavior that contribute to drug use. Various treatment approaches and settings can help provide the ongoing support necessary to maintain long-term sobriety after you complete detox.

Cravings are very common during detox and can be challenging to overcome. This often leads to relapse. Constant medical care provided during inpatient treatment helps prevent relapse. Clinicians can provide necessary medication and medical expertise to lessen cravings and the effects of withdrawals.


Several different modalities of psychotherapy have been used in the treatment of mental health disorders along with addiction, including:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – is an effective treatment that involves making changes in both the patterns of negative thoughts and the behavioral routines which are affecting the daily life of the depressed person for various forms of depression.
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy – is a comprehensive mental health and substance abuse treatment program whose ultimate goal is to aid patients in their efforts to build a life worth living. The main goal of DBT is to help a person develop what is referred to as a “clear mind.” 
  • Person-Centered Therapy – is a strategy that allows and encourages clients to understand and resolve their concerns in a safe, supportive environment.
  • Solution Focused Therapy – is an approach interested in solutions that can be quickly implemented with a simple first step leading to further positive consequences.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Drug abuse and mental health disorders often co-occur. In many cases, traumatic experiences can result in a mental health disorder and substance abuse. Dual diagnosis rehabilitation treats both of these issues together. The best approach for the treatment of dual diagnosis is an integrated system. In this strategy, both the substance abuse problem and the mental disorder are treated simultaneously. Regardless of which diagnosis (mental health or substance abuse problem) came first, long-term recovery will depend largely on the treatment for both disorders done by the same team or provider.

Medication-Assisted Treatments

Medication-Assisted Treatments (MAT) for substance use disorders and mental health disorders are commonly used in conjunction with one another. This includes the use of medications and other medical procedures. During your rehab, the staff from your treatment facility will help you identify what caused your addiction and teach you skills that will help you change your behavior patterns and challenge the negative thoughts that led to your addiction. Sometimes, the pressures and problems in your life lead you to rely on substances to help you forget about them momentarily.

How long cocaine stays in system?” is a question that many abusers of the drug may have. Our counselors know what you are going through and will answer any of your questions. Please, do not try to detox on your own. The detox process can be painful and difficult without medical assistance. However, getting through the detox process is crucial for continued treatment. We Level Up provide proper care with round-the-clock medical staff to medically assist your recovery. So, reclaim your life, and call us to speak with one of our treatment specialists.

How Long Cocaine Stays in System
No matter what, when dealing with cocaine addiction problems, the care and supervision of a medical professional are necessary.

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[1] NIDA –
[2] How Long Does Cocaine Stay in Urine? – We Level Up NJ