Cocaine is known to produce rapid and powerful effects that also tend to fade away just as quickly. Unfortunately, both crack or cocaine and their metabolites linger far longer in your system than you would think. Even one tiny line of cocaine can stay in your systme and show up on a drug test five days later. However, if you’re a long-term and/or heavy user, traces of the drug can be found many months or even years after complete cessation.
About Cocaine Metabolism
No matter the method of intake, cocaine (or crack) first makes its way into the bloodstream, where it binds to the plasma and can now travel throughout the body. The brain is the first stop. Cocaine can pass through the blood-brain barrier rapidly, which is why its effects are so quick.
The process of cocaine metabolism begins with the liver, where the majority of cocaine is transformed into benzoylecgonine and other metabolites. If the person has consumed alcohol, the liver will also produce cocaethylene.
All of the cocaine metabolites are then filtered through the kidneys before they leave the body. Only a small percentage of the drug is not metabolised at all, and leaves the body as cocaine.
Cocaine can be ingested in many ways, including insufflation, injection, inhalation, or oral consumption. Crack, however, is normally either smoked or injected. How either drug is ingested will determine how fast it hits the system. Generally speaking, the faster the effects are felt, the faster they fade.
Although the drugs lose their effect quickly with certain modes of ingestion, it has little impact on the metabolism of the drug. Cocaine consumed via injection (rapid effect) versus cocaine consumed by mouth (slowest effect) still produces the same metabolites, which will take the same amount of time for your body to process.
What Factors Affect How Long Coke Stays in Your System?
As with any other drug, there are a number of factors which determine how long cocaine stays in one’s system and how rapidly it is metabolised. Of course, there are general factors affecting metabolism, such as height, weight, gender, age, and genetics. However, there are other things to consider as well.
A person’s general well-being will largely affect how efficient their metabolism is. Aside from metabolism, one’s general health can affect the process as well. Because cocaine is metabolised by the liver and excreted by the kidneys, people with liver or kidney problems may not be able to process cocaine as efficiently as other people. Equally, people who are overweight of who lead sedentary lifestyles are likely to take longer to metabolise the drug.
Combining crack or cocaine with alcohol produces a substance called cocaethylene, which can be considered a drug in itself. Mixing the two produces much stronger and lasting stimulant effects than using cocaine alone. However, this means that the byproducts are present in the body for longer, and therefore can also be detected in drug tests for longer as well.
Other drugs can slow down cocaine metabolism as well. Marijuana and caffeine are two well-known drugs that can prolong the period cocaine spends in your system.
However, some common supplements and herbs can have various effects as well. Zinc, for example, although it doesn’t affect the metabolic process, can mask the presence of cocaine and other substances in drug tests.
Long-Term or Heavy Use
Cocaine has a tendency to build-up in the system over time, both in the short and long-term. For example, repeated dosing of cocaine in one sitting creates an exponential effect, where each subsequent intake will have a longer-lasting and stronger effect.
The same happens in the body if you’re a regular user. If someone indulges in cocaine over an extended period, their body will not metabolise it the same as a person who’s only tried it once. Whereas a one-off user can usually pass a drug test in 4 days, a long-term consumer may not pass it for several weeks.
Although cocaine is not fat-soluble and doesn’t get stored in the body like other drugs, the metabolite benzoylecgonine is. It is known that traces of it can be found in the brain and body of heavy users even after a period of abstinence.
If someone has been using cocaine for a very long time, it may take their body six months to clear it of all traces.
How Long Can Cocaine or Crack Be Detected on Drug Tests?
There is never a straightforward answer regarding how long cocaine or crack can be detected within urine, blood… etc., because it depend on a number of factors, including the person, the drug, usage history, and the test itself.
When it comes to drug tests, they always vary in sensitivity, but more importantly, it matters if the test is looking for cocaine or cocaine metabolites. Cocaine and crack both have relatively short half-lives. However, its metabolites do not. If cocaine has a half-life of less than an hour, benzoylecgonine has a half-life of six hours, and cocaethylene even longer. This is why most tests check for metabolites, as it is more reliable.
How Long Does Crack or Cocaine Stay in Your Urine?
The urine test is the most common way to check for cocaine use. It can be detected anywhere from 1-5 days after consumption for the occasional user. For a regular or heavy user, urine can test positive for metabolites for weeks or over a month after last use.
How Long Does Crack or Cocaine Stay in Your Blood?
Cocaine is detectable in the blood for about a day, but it can remain for longer if alcohol is consumed. Traces of cocaine in chronic users can be found in the blood about a month after last use.
How Long Does Crack or Cocaine Stay in Your Saliva?
Cocaine is present in the saliva for about 1-2 days for most users. However, heavy or long-term consumption can increase this period.
How Long Is Crack or Cocaine Detectable in Your Hair?
The hair test can show evidence of cocaine use even if it occurred months ago. Although most hair tests check for drug use within 90 days, it is possible to have traces of cocaine in your hair for many years.
However, hair tests are also said to be semi-unreliable when it comes to cocaine. A person can come in contact with cocaine in many ways, for example simply by being in public or regularly touching banknotes, and hair tends to be very absorbent.
Without Testing, Can Other People Tell if I’m Using Cocaine?
It is possible for other people to tell if you’re high on coke, but there is no one tell-tale sign. A lot of the noticeable symptoms, such as elevated energy, jitteriness, chatty personality, or even elevated heart rate can also happen if someone simply had too much coffee.
Dilated pupils are one well-known sign, but also aren’t always that dramatically noticeable or long-lasting. And of course, everyone gets dilated pupils if they’re in a poorly lit environment.
If someone is familiar with cocaine, they might be able to tell, but only in addition to certain behaviours, such as frequent trips to the bathroom. Because visible symptoms of cocaine use are noticeable within 5-30 minutes after intake, and last about 1-2 hours (or longer if you regularly redose), the main giveaway will be the repeated highs and lows in your behaviour.
With long-term use, people might notice symptoms of cocaine addiction or common signs of stimulant abuse, such as weight loss, change in appetite, and sudden increase in energy.
How Long Should I Wait to Drive After Using Cocaine?
While cocaine’s effects are not long-lasting, there are other things you should think about before driving after consuming crack or cocaine. If you only had a small amount, your body should be clear of cocaine’s effects in a few hours. However, this rapid up and down might mean you will have a period of fatigue and poor concentration after using, which can impact your driving ability.
More important than sobriety is the worst-case scenario of an accident. Although you are no longer high, cocaine can be found in your system for days (or longer if you’re had a binge period) after last use. Thus, if you were to get tested, you would run into problems.
If you consumed alcohol as well, you will have to consider how much you have had to drink in addition to how much cocaine you’ve used. As a stimulant, cocaine will make you feel more sober than you actually are, so you cannot be your own judge of character in your ability to drive.
Furthermore, recall that mixing alcohol and cocaine will increase the length of time the drugs are in your body, and how long they can be detected for. All these considerations add up to the fact that if you are intending to use alcohol or cocaine, or a combination of both, you should not plan to drive a vehicle that day at least.
If you find that you are asking these questions regularly, you may be at risk of cocaine abuse or addiction. If you think that you, or someone you know, has a problem with drugs, call Smarmore Castle today and we can help.