How Long Does Cocaine Stay in Your System (Hair, Blood, Urine)?
Cocaine, much like any other drug, stays inside the system for a particular time period. People taking drugs need to know how long it remains inside the body, especially those who have to undergo tests to prove they are not substance-abusers.
What is Cocaine?
It is an alkaloid that is extracted from the leaves of cocoa. It is illegally used as a narcotic to experience pleasurable sensations. When used in excess, and on a regular basis, the substance can be highly addictive. It can cause much damage to the body and central nervous system of its users. Constant use of the drug may lead to problems like:
- Bowel gangrene
- Heart problems
- Nasal disorders
- Immunodeficiency syndromes, such as AIDS
The use of this stimulant is prohibited by law. Various public and private organizations have strict laws regarding the non-use of Cocaine among its staff. From time to time, people from such organizations are subjected to tests to determine whether or not they are users of the drug.
How Long Does Cocaine Stay In Your System?
The period for which the drug stays inside the system depends on various factors like:
- Body mass
- Dose of cocaine
- Duration of use
- Form of the substance
- Frequency of use
- Individual metabolic (degeneration) rate
There is a misconception that all traces of the drug are removed from the system within 2-3 days. Laboratory tests do not aim for detection of the addictive substance itself but the metabolite or the product it degrades into within the system of users. The main metabolite of cocaine is Benzoylecgonine, which persists inside the body of users for a month or more. Cocaine itself can last for up to 72 hours in the bloodstream and for a maximum period of 7 days in the urine after a single use.
Types of Cocaine Tests
The presence of this drug can be detected by the examination of blood, urine and hair. Cocaine, consumed in any form, can persist in the hair, urine or blood of an individual for anywhere from a few hours to several months.
The various medical exams used for determining the existence of the drug involve:
Blood drug test
Following a single dose, the substance can be detected in the bloodstream for anywhere from a few minutes to 5-6 hours. Blood exams for cocaine are not generally carried out as they are quite expensive to conduct.
Saliva cocaine test
These tests are best conducted shortly after intake of the drug in an oral, nasal or intravenous manner. The maximum period for which it can be conducted is 1-2 days after use of the substance. Saliva test is often used within 6 hours or less after ingestion. The time taken for detecting traces of this drug is the shortest in case of this test.
Hair follicle test
Traces of the drug may appear in the hair within 8 hours of taking it. In some cases, it may take 7-10 days to appear after a single use and may persist for several months until cutting of the hair. This test cannot reliably establish the time and amount of intake of cocaine.
This is the least expensive test for detecting cocaine. Naturally, it can be afforded by almost everyone. It is also a non-invasive process. The test also allows a long time for detection of traces of this addictive material. The drug can be detected as long as the hair is kept uncut. Washing the hair can help remove some amount of cocaine deposits. However, the drug cannot be completely removed from hair.
Sweat patch test
These are generally used by non-medical staff and are frequently found to be false positive. There is debate among medical experts over the reliability and efficiency of this test. Naturally, it is not recommended by physicians. However, people are often found to go for this test owing to the low cost involved in conducting the process.
Urine drug test
An examination of urine can detect presence of Cocaine for up to 8 hours after one snorted dose and a maximum period of 24 hours after a single ingestion of this drug.
When the drug enters the system, it is broken into a metabolite (product of degeneration) known as Benzoylecgonine. This can be determined in the urine for a maximum period of 60 hours after a single use. When used repeatedly, it can be found for up to 22 days. Apart from Benzoylecgonine, Cocaethylene and Ecgonine methyl ester are the other metabolites that can be found in the urine.
How Can You Pass Cocaine Tests?
In countries like the U.S, urine tests are mainly used by various organizations and employers as per the drug screening instructions by the National Institute of Drug (NIDA). Cocaine use is a common problem in such countries. Many people try to beat urine tests by consuming lots of water and other fluids to dilute their urine. This is effective to some extent. However, traces of the addictive substance cannot be completely removed in this way. If cocaine use is suspected, your employer may consider putting you through another test to make sure.
Many individuals go for a hair cut to avoid getting detected in hair tests. While that may be assistive, cutting the hair in days prior to the test may arouse suspicion and make you face other tests, such as blood exams or sweat patch tests. Several pharmaceutical companies have claimed to have been able to bring out products that can help drug users pass tests by removing all substance traces from their system. However, the efficacy of such products is yet to be truly established. There is also the risk that you may suffer from side effects due to usage of these commodities.
The best way to pass cocaine tests is to avoid using the drug itself. Non-use of the substance can not only help you avoid loss of job (and face) following detection through a test. It can also safeguard your health and help you live long, without any severely impairing problems.