Cocaine is a stimulant of the central nervous system which speeds up many of the body’s systems. The heart may beat faster, the blood pressure will rise and energy level will increase. Since cocaine is addictive, many employers screen for cocaine use both before hiring a new employee and at irregular intervals during employment. People wonder, therefore: How long does cocaine stay in the blood?
A number of factors influence the speed at which cocaine is metabolized and removed from the body:
How long cocaine stays in the blood is only part of the question, since there are several different tests that can be used to detect cocaine use. Cocaine can be detected in the hair for up to three months or more. For the long-term user, cocaine can be detected for an even longer period. Hair grows about one-half inch per month. For a long-term user whose hair is 6 inches long, cocaine use could be detected for a year, depending upon the health of their hair.
In some ways, asking how long cocaine stays in the blood is not the most important question. Cocaine is only detected in the urine for a couple of days, but the compounds formed when it is processed by the liver, called metabolites, can be detected in urine for several weeks.
Cocaine can be detected in the saliva only for a couple of hours, making saliva tests almost useless in screening for cocaine use.
Normally, cocaine can be detected in the blood for 12-24 hours after use. Some of the factors listed above can impact this time period, but only slightly.
Depending on the manner in which cocaine is used, cocaine is removed from the system at different rates. After the use of cocaine, the amount in the system will peak at different speeds depending upon the manner of use. After the amount of cocaine in the system reaches its peak, the amount will reduce by about half every 15-45 minutes.
Think of it like this: if the cocaine high lasts about 30 minutes, it can take 150 times that amount of time for the body to dispose of the drug (so in this case, over 3 days at least).
Cocaine is metabolized by the liver, producing Benzoylecgonine and Cocaethylene. These metabolites are excreted in the urine and, to a small degree, in the feces. Cocaine’s half-life, the amount of time it takes for half of the substance to leave the body, is from 15 to 45 minutes. So, every 15 to 45 minutes, the amount of cocaine in your system is cut in half until all of it is removed. It takes the liver about 4 hours to metabolize most of the cocaine in the body, but the metabolites can be detected for days or weeks or even months.
There are a few things a cocaine user can do to increase the rate at which cocaine and its metabolites are removed from their body:
Cocaine is used primarily due to the euphoric effect it creates in the brain. This addictive drug is removed from the body at different speeds depending upon the manner in which it was introduced into the system. A person who wants to know how long cocaine stays in the blood is really asking the wrong question because urine tests and hair analysis can detect cocaine and its metabolites for weeks or months after the last use. Employers, with good reason, are uncomfortable with employees using cocaine and they know the best tests to reveal past cocaine use. Why risk your job, or even your life, for a few minutes of euphoria?
Northeast Addictions Treatment Center is a Drug and Alcohol Addiction Treatment Center in Quincy, Massachusetts. Our team has been helping individuals with Drug or Alcohol Addiction live a life of Recovery since 2016.
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