How Long Does Cocaine Last

Read on to learn more about how long cocaine stays in the system, including some risks and dangers of cocaine use and how to seek help for drug misuse.

How Long Does A Cocaine High Last? Effects And Comedown

Cocaine can be consumed in multiple ways, which can make a cocaine high last anywhere from five to 30 minutes. After using cocaine, a person may experience a comedown with the possibility of prolonged withdrawal symptoms.

How Long Does A Cocaine High Last?

A cocaine high lasts for up to 30 minutes. However, the long-term effects of cocaine use may persist after the drug has left a person’s system.

How long drugs work depends on many factors. The method of use can be particularly impactful. For example, snorting a drug may cause it to go to work faster than swallowing a pill.

Cocaine is a drug with multiple methods of consumption. As a result, the answer to the question of how long cocaine lasts is variable.

Here you’ll find answers about cocaine use, including how long different methods last and how long cocaine may be detected by a drug test.

How Long Do The Effects Of Cocaine Last? What Does A Cocaine High Feel Like?

Cocaine is a powerful stimulant drug that causes a euphoric high, along with heightened energy levels and a temporarily reduced need for sleep.

Cocaine use may also cause unpleasant and dangerous side effects such as high blood pressure, increased body temperature, heart attack, and other health problems.

Cocaine High Onset Times

The short-term effects of cocaine use may begin within three to 30 minutes.

According to cocaine research, both onset and duration depend on the form of cocaine use that a person chooses.

Most often, cocaine is either snorted through the nose or smoked in the form of crack cocaine or as freebase. Sometimes, people use cocaine by injecting it or rubbing it into the gums.

Typical cocaine high onset times are:

  • snorting cocaine: less than three minutes
  • smoking cocaine: less than three minutes
  • injecting cocaine: less than five minutes
  • rubbing cocaine into the gums: between one and two hours

Cocaine High Duration

No matter the form of cocaine abuse, the effects of a cocaine high usually wear off quickly.

The average duration of a cocaine high are:

  • snorting cocaine: 15 to 30 minutes
  • smoking cocaine: five to 10 minutes
  • injecting cocaine: five to 15 minutes
  • rubbing cocaine into the gums: 15 to 30 minutes

The short acting nature of cocaine is one reason why this drug is so addictive.

Many people continue smoking crack or snorting cocaine after the initial high wanes, creating a cycle of drug abuse through repetition.

How Long Does A Cocaine Comedown Last?

After experiencing a cocaine high, many people also experience a cocaine comedown. A comedown is a “crash” or “hangover” that can occur as a high comes to an end.

Cocaine comedown symptoms can include:

  • fatigue
  • irritability
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • increased appetite
  • mood swings
  • cravings
  • cognitive difficulties

A cocaine comedown may last several hours to a day after the cocaine crash begins.

How Long Does Cocaine Last In The Body?

The half-life of cocaine is very short, only about an hour. By comparison, the half-lives of many other drugs can be several hours to an entire day.

The half-life is the amount of time that it takes half of a drug to be eliminated from a person’s blood plasma, and the average drug takes between five and six half-lives to leave the body.

As a result, cocaine can be completely eliminated from the plasma within five or six hours after use.

How Long Can Cocaine Be Detected By Drug Tests?

Although cocaine lasts for a short amount of time, some drug tests can still detect cocaine use after the drug has been eliminated.

This detection occurs because many drug tests do not look for the presence of a drug itself but the metabolites that drugs leave behind.

Cocaine metabolites may be detected in urine for up to three days, blood and saliva for up to two days, and hair follicles for up to three months.

How Long Does Cocaine Withdrawal Last?

People who have a dependence on cocaine may experience withdrawal when stopping the drug.

Acute cocaine withdrawal symptoms are similar to cocaine comedown symptoms but more severe. Cravings for cocaine may become especially pronounced during this time.

Acute symptoms typically last for a few days to a week. However, some people may experience variations in the duration of the withdrawal period.

In some cases, people report post-acute symptoms that can last for months after stopping cocaine.

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding How Long Cocaine Lasts

Cocaine is one of the most commonly abused drugs in the United States, and people have many questions about its use.

Here you’ll find answers about how long cocaine lasts, as well as the answers to other common questions about cocaine.

Is It Possible To Develop A Cocaine Tolerance?

Yes, it is very common for people who use cocaine to develop a tolerance even in the absence of an established substance use disorder.

Cocaine releases large amounts of dopamine. As the brain gets used to the dopamine rush, it will require larger amounts of cocaine to achieve the same high.

What Happens If You Combine Cocaine With Other Drugs Or Alcohol?

While people who use cocaine should always refrain from any additional substance abuse, alcohol and opioids are the most likely to cause an increased risk of fatal overdose.

The combination of alcohol and cocaine is fairly common but exceedingly dangerous, as the presence of both in the liver causes it to produce the potentially toxic metabolite cocaethylene.

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What Are The Signs Of Cocaine Abuse?

The signs of cocaine abuse can include both physical and behavioral signs.

Physical signs may include unusual amounts of energy followed by fatigue. Other physical signs can include sleeplessness, dilated pupils, and complaints of chest pain.

Can Cocaine Cause An Overdose?

Yes, cocaine overdoses do occur. Symptoms of a cocaine overdose can include irregular heart rate, difficulty breathing, seizures, stroke, and cocaine-induced psychosis.

Treatment For Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine is a highly addictive drug. The difficulty of withdrawal and the side effects of cocaine addiction can further complicate recovery.

Fortunately, there are many treatment options for cocaine addiction. Treatment options like medical detox, inpatient rehab, and outpatient rehab can help people recover from drug use.

If you or a loved one need cocaine addiction treatment, contact Addiction Resource to connect with addiction treatment programs that can help.

Published on December 12, 2022

Written by the Addiction Resource Editorial Staff

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How Long Does Cocaine Last

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Cocaine: How long does it stay in your system?

The length of time cocaine stays in a person’s system depends on the dosage, how often a person uses it, and other factors.

Cocaine has a shorter half-life than many other drugs, which means that the body metabolizes it fairly quickly. Within a few hours, the dose is half that of the initial dose. And within a few days, the body has completely eliminated cocaine.

This means that a person will enter withdrawal shortly after stopping cocaine and that a blood, saliva, or urine test will only show the presence of cocaine for a few days. Because cocaine can linger in the hair longer, a hair test may be positive for months or years.

Read on to learn more about how long cocaine stays in the system, including some risks and dangers of cocaine use and how to seek help for drug misuse.

Close up of a person

Cocaine has a short half-life of around 1 hour . This means that, within an hour of taking a dose, the body will have metabolized half of the original dose. Within a few days, the body metabolizes all of the cocaine, and it is no longer in the system at all. Other sources, however, state that the initial half-life can be several hours .

The exact time it takes to eliminate cocaine depends on several factors. These include the size of the dose, the speed of a person’s metabolism, and whether it is the first time a person has taken cocaine or they are a frequent user.

The mechanism by which a person takes cocaine also matters. Topical cocaine , for example, has a shorter half-life than other methods of administration, such as snorting.

The half-life of cocaine determines how quickly a person will stop feeling high or begin feeling withdrawal symptoms. New cocaine users may find that the high weakens within a couple of hours, while habitual cocaine users may already begin feeling withdrawal within a few hours after their last dose.

The length of time cocaine stays in the body and causes effects differs from the length of time it will show up on a drug test.

This is because drug tests look for cocaine metabolites. These are the chemicals the body produces when breaking down cocaine. A person may no longer be feeling high. However, they can still test positive on a drug test due to these cocaine metabolites.

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Whether a person tests positive for cocaine depends on several factors, including the type of drug test. The metabolite cutoff level will also determine the odds of a positive test. Different manufacturers determine different cutoffs. Smaller cutoff numbers mean a person is more likely to get a positive result.

Urine cocaine test

Urine tests may test for cocaine itself or its metabolite, benzoylecgonine. A urine test can directly test for cocaine for a day or less but will detect cocaine metabolites for a few days — usually 1–2 days.

Prolonged use, large doses, and very pure cocaine may have a slightly longer detection window.

Blood cocaine test

A blood cocaine test looks for cocaine or its metabolite in the blood plasma. This test has the shortest detection window.

This window is just a few hours for cocaine itself and 5.5 to 7.5 hours for cocaine metabolites. Therefore, a blood cocaine test is really just a test to measure if someone is currently under the influence of cocaine, not whether they have recently used it.

Hair cocaine test

Metabolites of cocaine remain in the hair the longest. This is because the body does not get rid of the hair. It just keeps growing, making it possible to detect cocaine months after use.

For example, a 2022 paper reports on data finding evidence of cocaine use in the hair 6 months after use. However, evidence of drug use may take up to 7–10 days to appear in the hair.

Hair cocaine testing poses some reliability issues. People with short hair or who cut their hair, for instance, can expect a shorter positive testing window since they may cut out the portions of the hair that will test positive.

It is also possible for the hair to become contaminated with cocaine through direct exposure, even if a person does not use cocaine.

Saliva cocaine test

Saliva tests for cocaine can measure the presence of cocaine for 24–48 hours after a person’s last use. The purity and quantity of the cocaine, as well as a person’s metabolism, determine how long it is present in the system. People who take repeated doses of cocaine may take longer to metabolize it.

The process by which the body metabolizes cocaine helps break it down. The metabolites created by the metabolization process travel to the urine, hair, saliva, and bloodstream, eventually leaving the body.

The liver plays an important role in metabolizing cocaine. This also means that cocaine overdoses or prolonged use can damage the liver.

Cocaine metabolism begins when a chemical in the blood plasma called plasma butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) breaks down cocaine into a chemical called ecgonine methyl ester (EME). Next, enzymes break cocaine down into benzoylecgonine. This is the chemical most cocaine tests look for.

A person’s natural levels of BChE may influence the rate at which their body breaks down cocaine. Lower levels of this chemical may increase the risk of overdose and other negative cocaine effects.

Cocaine is a stimulant drug, which means that it increases activity in the central nervous system. This can make a person feel more energetic and may also cause anxiety or aggression.

Cocaine poses many risks, including :

  • cocaine use disorder
  • paranoia
  • irritability
  • nausea and vomiting
  • high blood pressure
  • rapid heart rate
  • sleep difficulties
  • loss of appetite

Long-term use of cocaine may cause:

  • damage to the heart and liver
  • death
  • lung damage from smoking
  • damage to the nose from snorting the drug
  • organ failure
  • weight loss or malnourishment
  • conditions such as HIV from injecting cocaine

Cocaine use can result in overdose and, ultimately, death.

A person who needs to know how quickly cocaine leaves the body may need help for their cocaine use. This is because cocaine exits the body quickly, and a person who is unable to abstain for a few days or who has concerns about withdrawal may have an addiction.

Some other signs a person might need help include:

  • They are unable to quit cocaine despite trying.
  • They use cocaine to feel “normal.”
  • Cocaine has caused serious relationship, financial, legal, or workplace difficulties.
  • A person has experienced health issues associated with cocaine.
  • A person uses cocaine to manage the symptoms of a mental health condition or to mask physical pain.

Drug addiction is a medical problem — not a personal failing. It requires medical treatment, including support to deal with withdrawal symptoms and manage any issues such as depression or relationship concerns that contribute to a person’s cocaine use.

A person may find relief through:

  • medical detox
  • psychotherapy
  • medical support for any underlying health problems
  • support groups
  • comprehensive inpatient treatment.

A family doctor or mental health professional can help a person find the assistance they need.

Seeking help for addiction may seem daunting or even scary, but several organizations can provide support. If you believe that you or someone close to you is showing signs of addiction, you can contact the following organizations for immediate help and advice:

  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): 800-662-4357 (TTY: 800-487-4889)
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255

Cocaine is a powerful and addictive drug that can damage a person’s health and well-being. Its short half-life also means that a person who quits using cocaine can expect to experience withdrawal very quickly.

People concerned about cocaine drug testing should avoid cocaine for as long as possible. It is also important to consider that, if cocaine may interfere with a drug test for work or school, this could be a sign that a person has become dependent on cocaine and needs treatment.

A compassionate, knowledgeable health provider can help a person find treatment. Recovery is possible, and a person can enjoy a better quality of life.

Last medically reviewed on April 28, 2022

  • Uncategorized
  • Public Health
  • Alcohol / Addiction / Illegal Drugs

How we reviewed this article:

Medical News Today has strict sourcing guidelines and draws only from peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical journals and associations. We avoid using tertiary references. We link primary sources — including studies, scientific references, and statistics — within each article and also list them in the resources section at the bottom of our articles. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

  • Bourland, J. A. (n. d.). Practical aspects of drug testing in human hair.
  • Cocaine. (n. d.).
  • Drug plasma half-life and urine detection window. (2021).
  • Fluyau, D., et al. (2021). Drug addiction.
  • Hair follicle drug test. (n. d.).
  • Jeromel, L., et al. (2022). Molecular imaging of human hair with MeV-SIMS: A case study of cocaine detection and distribution in the hair of a cocaine user.
  • Nickley, J., et al. (2016). A sensitive assay for urinary cocaine metabolite benzoylecgonine shows more positive results and longer half-lives than those using traditional cut-offs.
  • Richards, J. R., et al. (2021). Cocaine.
  • Saliva test for 5 drugs. (n. d.).
  • Schindler, C. W., et al. (2012). Accelerating cocaine metabolism as an approach to the treatment of cocaine abuse and toxicity.

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Alex Koliada, PhD

Alex Koliada, PhD

Alex Koliada, PhD, is a well-known doctor. He is famous for his studies of ageing, genetics and other medical conditions. He works at the Institute of Food Biotechnology and Genomics NAS of Ukraine. His scientific researches are printed by the most reputable international magazines. Some of his works are: Differences in the gut Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes ratio across age groups in healthy Ukrainian population []; Mating status affects Drosophila lifespan, metabolism and antioxidant system [Science Direct]; Anise Hyssop Agastache foeniculum Increases Lifespan, Stress Resistance, and Metabolism by Affecting Free Radical Processes in Drosophila [Frontiersin].
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