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Popularly known as coke, cocaine is a potent stimulant illicit drug that can quickly make a person dependent and addicted to it. As the drug is consumed, the user experiences a brief but intense high that forces them to keep using it regularly. Once inside the body, it quickly acts on the drug, converting it into several metabolites, which then excrete through different channels. If you or someone you know has been using cocaine, questions like “how long does cocaine last?” might be on the mind. While each individual who uses cocaine may have a different experience, experts have provided a general timeline for its working and expected duration of effects for better understanding.
How Long Does Cocaine Last in the Body? Important Factors to Consider
How long does cocaine high last in the body depends on how long the drug stays in the system. According to scientists, multiple factors may affect this timeline, such as the following:
How much cocaine do you take
The more cocaine you consume, the longer it stays in the system, leading to a prolonged high.
How frequently do you use cocaine
Regular users of cocaine can generally retain it in their bloodstream for a longer time, causing stronger and longer-lasting effects.
How do you take cocaine
The method of consumption makes a huge difference when it comes to measuring cocaine effects. For instance, someone who snorts cocaine or dabs it onto their gums may experience the effects for much longer than someone who smokes or injects it.
Individual body weight and metabolism
People with higher body fat levels can retain cocaine in their system for a longer time, lengthening its effects.
Mixing cocaine with other substances
People who drink and use cocaine simultaneously may hold onto the latter for much longer and continue experiencing the associated effects longer than others.
How Long Does Cocaine Last in Your Body?
When a person consumes cocaine, their body immediately starts acting on the drug to break it down into byproducts. These byproducts or metabolites linger on in the system for some time, and certain tests may pick them up to confirm cocaine use. Depending on the type of test a person chooses to undergo, there are different timelines when it comes to how long cocaine last in your body.
Blood tests can detect cocaine and its metabolites for up to two days following the last dose.
Tests conducted on saliva can also give a positive result for up to two days following the last dose.
A urine test may pick up traces of cocaine for up to four days following the last ingestion.
While hair tests are not so commonly used, they can detect cocaine metabolites for up to 90 days after the last use.
How Long Do the Effects of Cocaine Last?
In general, a cocaine-related high lasts for 20 to 30 minutes, followed by a crash which may force certain people to consume more of this drug. Following are some short-term effects of using cocaine that a person may expect immediately:
- Risky behaviors due to overconfidence
- Physical symptoms, including a high body temperature, high blood pressure, feeling generally unwell or tired, heightened heart rate, breathing problems, and sweating
- Agitation and increased restlessness
In the long run, cocaine use can lead to the following effects:
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Feeling like cocaine has taken over your life
- Intense mood swings
- An inability to stop taking cocaine, despite wanting to
Many people may experience a cocaine crash or comedown the next day after use. Depending on how much cocaine a person uses and the amount that lingers on in their body, the symptoms of this crash can vary. However, many people experience severe fatigue along with symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and stomach ache.
Understanding the Extended Cocaine Effects: The Withdrawal Side Effects
Using cocaine regularly can cause dependence, a condition where a person may need the drug to function normally. When such people suddenly stop taking cocaine or reduce their dose, they may experience a set of symptoms called withdrawal. These withdrawal symptoms may appear in people after consistent use of cocaine and are worse and longer-lasting in heavy users.
When a person consumes cocaine, the dopamine levels in their brain increase. This buildup in the synaptic spaces of the brain occurs as the drug stops the neurotransmitter from returning to the cells that released it. The excess dopamine levels play an imperative role in causing euphoric feelings. As this continues to happen, the brain circuitry becomes dependent on the high dopamine levels, and withdrawing from the drug may push it into a withdrawal or crash. To prevent these withdrawal symptoms, a person may keep using the drug repeatedly, worsening their addiction.
Following are some withdrawal effects associated with cocaine use, some of them lasting for months even after a person stops using the drugs:
- Vivid nightmares
- Increased appetite
- Slower activity
- Anxiety or irritation
Interestingly, a person withdrawing from cocaine may not experience many physical symptoms. Moreover, the experience may not be as dangerous as the withdrawal process secondary to benzodiazepine or alcohol use. Some experts have broken down the cocaine withdrawal process into the following three phases for users to understand how long these cocaine effects may last and what to expect at each stage:
This first phase begins as soon as a person stops using cocaine, typically within a few hours to a few days after the last dose. The symptoms experienced during the crash may include fatigue, irritability, anxiety, unhappiness, and increased appetite.
The second phase begins within a few days and involves intense cravings for cocaine and other symptoms, such as irritability, issues with concentration, and lethargy. The withdrawal phase may last for as long as ten weeks.
During the last phase, a person may experience cocaine cravings whenever they encounter certain triggers. These triggers may include certain friends who they used to abuse cocaine with, stressful situations, and certain places where they used the drug. The extinction phase effects may persist for up to 28 weeks even after stopping cocaine completely.
Remember that cocaine withdrawal may often cause depression, persisting for months, especially in heavy users. Such individuals are at an increased risk of injuring themselves or committing suicide. The unpleasant symptoms and cravings a person experiences during the withdrawal phase may force such people to relapse and experience an overdose.
How Long Does Cocaine Last? The Risk and Warning Signs of an Overdose
Because cocaine is a short-acting drug, its effects may subside from the body relatively quickly, making the user crave more. To satisfy these cravings, many people end up taking more cocaine than their bodies can handle, leading to an overdose. If you suspect that you or someone around you was using coke and is now showing the signs of an overdose, it is imperative to call emergency medical services immediately. The symptoms of a cocaine overdose may include the following:
- Irregular heartbeat
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of consciousness
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest pain
- Extreme agitation
Because cocaine highs are intense but short, such powerful stimulants have a very high potential for an overdose. People considering themselves or their loved ones at an increased risk of an overdose should contact a healthcare provider for timely help and support.
Consuming Cocaine Safely: Tips to Remember
There is no such thing as using cocaine harmlessly, as the drug is capable of inducing various side effects and risks. However, the following are some tips to remember to make the experience as safe as possible:
Test it before you use it
Cocaine available on the street is often cut with other illicit substances, such as fentanyl or speed, which may prove lethal. Hence, ensure your supply is pure to avoid these additional unknown risks.
Act smartly when it comes to cocaine props
Avoid sharing pipes, straws, and needles you use to administer cocaine in your body with anyone else. Always closely inspect any device before you use it, and check straws and pipes thoroughly for any damage or chips. Ensure that all needles you use are sterile and new.
Avoid mixing cocaine with other substances
The risk of prolonged serious side effects and overdose associated with cocaine is very high when you mix it with other substances, especially alcohol.
Take it low and slow
Stick to a low dose of cocaine and avoid redosing for as long as possible. Make a very small amount of the drug accessible during a session. Keep reminding yourself that the more cocaine you use, the higher its potential for causing addiction.
Avoid engagement if you are a heart patient
Steer clear of cocaine if you have any cardiovascular issues, including high blood pressure. The effects of this drug on the heart and blood vessels are well-documented, and experts confirm its risk of causing a heart attack, even in otherwise healthy individuals. This risk gets higher in people with a pre-existing illness.
Do not use alone
Always have a friend or a loved one available to ask for help in case things go south. Ideally, this loved one should be someone you trust and knows how to pick up the signs of an emergency, such as an overdose.
How does the body metabolize cocaine?
The enzymes present in the blood and liver act on cocaine to kickstart its metabolism. The drug breaks down into many metabolites, benzoylecgonine, and ecgonine methyl ester being the prominent ones. The former may remain detectable in urine for up to 4 days depending on how often an individual uses cocaine, their metabolic speed, and the dose they consume. Benzoylecgonine is the main metabolite that most drug tests pick up to give a positive reading.
How long does cocaine take to kick in?
Depending on how a person consumes the body, cocaine may take variable amounts of time to kick in. Following are some estimated time durations according to the method of use:
- Snorting: 1 to 3 minutes
- Smoking: 10 to 15 seconds
- Rubbing on the gums: 1 to 3 minutes
- Injection: 10 to 15 seconds
What does a cocaine high feel like?
Cocaine is a drug that targets and affects brain activity, creating an overflow of dopamine, a neurochemical responsible for regulating mood and well-being. When cocaine over-synthesizes dopamine, the body experiences a state of euphoria, making a person more talkative, energetic, alert, and sensitive to touch and sound. However, these effects may reverse as a person starts experiencing a cocaine crash, where these effects start wearing off.
Will my method of consumption affect how long does cocaine last in the body?
The method of ingesting cocaine can affect how quickly the drug reaches the brain. However, it does not determine how long cocaine stays in their body. Regardless of how someone chooses to ingest it, cocaine and its metabolites can start showing up in urine within 3 to 6 hours after the last dose.
Will cocaine stay in my body longer if I combine it with alcohol?
When a person takes cocaine with alcohol, the former may take longer to get eliminated. According to experts, the excretion of both substances may reduce by 20 percent when taken together. Moreover, the combination produces a metabolite known as cocaethylene. This metabolite can be particularly dangerous to the body due to its potential cardiotoxic effects. The duo can also put a person at an increased risk of learning deficits and impaired psychomotor performance.
How long does cocaine take to wear off?
Depending on user history, a cocaine comedown may last for variable time durations. For some, it may take a few hours; for others, the comedown may continue for a few days.