How Long Does Cocaine Stay In Your System?

How Long Does Cocaine Stay In Your System?

So how long exactly does cocaine stay in your system? Again, this is dependent on a number of factors. But below we’ll lay out a timeline for what you can expect.

12-24 Hours After Last Use

Cocaine has a short half-life, so after the first 12-24 hours, some users may be in the clear. This is generally only true for saliva and blood tests, but sometimes urine tests can fail to detect metabolites if drug use has been limited.

If a person is a heavy user, they’re extremely likely to fail a drug screening in the first 12-24 hours no matter the form used.

1-4 Days After Last Use

For most users, 1-4 days after last use is a normal range in which metabolites can be detected in urine screenings. However, this can depend on a number of factors, including the user’s history of use.

4-90 Days After Last Use

The only drug screening likely to find metabolites after 4 days since last use is a hair screening. However, for extremely heavy users or those affected by certain conditions, urine tests can produce positives for up to two weeks (sometimes even longer).

Hair drug screenings will usually require one and a half-inch of hair. That’s because cocaine can be detected in hair for 90 days (though in rare cases can stay for months). Not every user will show up positive for 90 days after use, but a heavy user can.

90 Days & Beyond

For the majority of users, hair tests will be unable to detect cocaine metabolites after 90 days. But for chronic users or those coming off a binge, there is some evidence to suggest cocaine can be detected for 6 months or even longer.

How Is Cocaine Detected?


Metabolites refer to metabolic action or the body’s way of breaking down substances for use or excretion. So cocaine metabolites can be thought of as leftovers or byproducts of metabolic action.

So if we detect cocaine metabolites in someone’s system, it’s a strong indicator they were using the drug (more on why we can’t be 100% sure below).

Of course, there’s more than one way to test someone for the presence of cocaine. These include blood, hair, urine, and saliva.

Types Of Tests

Blood test

Blood tests are the least likely to be used. This is because they require more time (because blood has to be drawn) and more specialized equipment, meaning they’re much more expensive. Additionally, blood tests are able to detect cocaine metabolites for the shortest amount of time.

Hair Test

Hair testing is more common than blood testing but is usually reserved for government jobs or jobs requiring the operation of heavy machinery. Other jobs using hair testing may include lifeguards, childcare, etc. An interesting fact, every half-inch of hair contains 30 days of information.

Saliva Test

Because they require less advanced technology and equipment than blood or hair, saliva tests are more commonly used in at-home test kits. Saliva tests can detect cocaine metabolites longer than blood tests can, but not by much.

Urine test

Urine tests are the most commonly used form of drug screenings, both for at-home test kits and lab-processed screenings. This is because testing urine is fast, cheap, and easy.

Determining Factors Of Cocaine Staying In Your System

Though determining factors can be talked about as ‘rules-of-thumb’, the specifics of an individual user will vary greatly. Use these as guidelines, not hard and fast rules.

Testing Accuracy & False Positives

Just like drug screenings can be cheated, they can also produce false results. One reason for this is what’s known as the cutoff limit.

Most people think that if a drug screening finds any amount of the drug (or really the drug metabolite) than it will come up as positive. But that’s not actually the case. To prevent false positives by environmental contamination (for example, inhaling second-hand marijuana smoke), drug screens use a cutoff limit.

The cutoff limit is the minimum amount of a metabolite needed for a positive to occur. This means an individual could have cocaine metabolites in their system but still pass the test.

And before you get outraged, false positives are a serious problem. In fact, according to the Massachusetts Civil Service Commission, hair testing isn’t reliable enough to be the sole reason for firing someone (this bill is only effective in Massachusetts. Check your local laws and guidelines for more information).

This law was passed after several police officers tested positive for cocaine. The bill was put in place because police officers are often in contact with illicit drugs (when performing ‘drug busts’, routine arrests, or handling evidence), so there is a high likelihood of some metabolites appearing in their system.

This may seem like it should only apply to police, but it’s been estimated that 90% of dollar bills in circulation contain detectable amounts of cocaine. Users roll bills to use as straws to snort cocaine.

Cocaine Facts

Before we dive deeper into the details of cocaine and how long it stays in the body, let’s talk about some basic cocaine facts. Some of these are interesting, others are surprising, but all of them can give you the knowledge you need to abolish cocaine addiction in yourself or others.

  • Cocaine is a party drug: Many people try cocaine for the first time in social settings. This is because cocaine can make a user feel euphoric, confident, and social. The stimulating effects of cocaine speed up the thought process and make the user more talkative and social.
  • Cocaine is extremely addictive: Cocaine overdose symptoms and effects are extremely dangerous and prominent due to its extremely addictive quality. The addictive potential is dependent on a number of factors, including the ingestion method. But the fact remains, just using cocaine once can set you up for a lifetime of physical and psychological dependence.
  • The science: The scientific name for cocaine is ‘benzoylmethylecgonine’. Cocaine is considered a stimulant.
  • Slang: The street names for cocaine include coke, blow, yayo, 8-ball, and snow.
  • Side effects: The side effects of cocaine abuse include, appetite & weight loss, sexual impotence, agitation, convulsions, seizures, and reproductive damage. In fact, cocaine can damage sperm and cause birth defects. This means that if a male is on cocaine while he impregnates a female, their baby could suffer from cocaine-related abnormalities.
  • Cocaine is expensive: Those addicted to cocaine can spend :0 a day or more on the drug.
  • Cocaine is extremely fast acting: Cocaine acts on the central nervous system and produces a short yet intense feeling of happiness and euphoria. This can last 15 minutes to an hour followed by a crash, characterized as feeling dull, sluggish, or even depressed.

Cocaine Addiction Services

If you’re concerned a loved one may be using or abusing cocaine, it’s important to talk with them. If they don’t come clean and tell the truth, you can give them a drug test armed with what you learned here. It may help to contact a trusted drug treatment center in Colorado to assist you.

If you’re concerned about passing a drug test for cocaine, it may be time to get help. Cocaine is massively addicting and can have majorly devastating effects. Don’t try to test clean, come clean. The most important step is asking for help. Detoxing from cocaine isn’t easy, but for many, asking for help is the hardest step.

Drug & Alcohol Detox

Peaks Recovery is medically staffed by a primary care physician, a psychiatrist, and round-the-clock nursing. The medical team’s acumen provides the safest medical detox in Colorado.

Inpatient & Residential Treatment

Peaks Recovery is licensed to provide the highest level of inpatient and residential programming in Colorado. In addition to satisfying state criteria, we have further received the highest recognition from the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) for our 3.7 and 3.5 levels of care.

IOP Treatment

Peaks Recovery provides accommodating support for individuals who may be experiencing some obstacles in their recovery journey or are looking for a step down from an inpatient program.

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