Cocaine is one of the most abused substances in the United States. Read on to learn more about the dangers of cocaine use.
Cocaine is a central nervous system stimulant and one of the most abused substances in the United States. It originates in South America from coca leaves. After its derivation over a century ago, it became a foundation in many common aspects of life, including as a soda ingredient, before its harmful effects were discovered.1 Individuals who abuse this drug today may wonder how long cocaine stays in your system, and several factors affect cocaine’s timeline.
Cocaine’s drug class is stimulants, specifically central nervous system stimulates. Central nervous system stimulants act as a catalyst in the body, increasing the speed at which the brain and different parts of the body communicate with each other. It can also impact other processes, however, such as brain chemistry levels.
As a central nervous system stimulant, cocaine is considered a Schedule II substance. Schedule II substances are any drugs with an elevated risk for addiction or the development of a substance use disorder. Substances in this schedule can include illicit substances like cocaine but also prescription drugs. However, when used under the guidance and instruction of a medical professional, prescription has a much lower risk for addiction than other similar substances.
Other common Schedule II substances are Adderall and Ritalin, two stimulants used in the treatment of brain chemistry disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Any substance can be addicting. However, cocaine is especially addictive since it directly impacts the central nervous system and elevates brain chemicals such as dopamine. It can rewire the brain’s reward system and cause feelings of euphoria. As the body and mind become accustomed to these shifts in chemistry and the consequential effects of elevated dopamine, it can cause addiction.
As a result, when cocaine is no longer used, withdrawal can occur as the body begins to revert to natural levels.
As one of the oldest substances, cocaine has garnered several slang names through its complicated history. Some of these street names include
However, the slang names for cocaine can also vary based on its form. Crack cocaine is a chemically identical form of cocaine that differs mainly in administration. While cocaine may be snorted or injected, crack cocaine is usually smoked. As a result, crack cocaine’s street names include
If cocaine is mixed with other illicit substances, it may have different slang names, which can vary depending on the substances used in the combination.
As a fast-acting central nervous system stimulant, the effects of cocaine can be almost immediate. However, even after the visible effects of cocaine use have ceased, the substance can still be present and detectable within the body. This fact means that while the brain and body are not actively showing signs of use through behavior, there may still be chemical changes occurring.
A half-life is the amount of time it takes for the body to eliminate exactly half the amount of the concentrated substance present in the body. Since different parts of the body eliminate substances and wastes at different rates, the half-life of cocaine can vary depending on the region tested.
In plasma, the estimated half-life of cocaine is around one and a half hours. In urine, that number is extended to nineteen hours. However, in both circumstances, cocaine would still be present in the system and thus be shown if a test were to be conducted.
The exact length of time that cocaine can be detected in the body depends on a variety of factors.
There are two main forms of cocaine: its traditional form and crack cocaine. While these are identical in terms of chemical compositions, they are abused in different ways, which can impact how long they are present in the body. This factor is mostly because administration dictates addictiveness, which can lead to more frequent uses.
Whether or not cocaine is used in combination with other substances can also impact the length of time that it can be detected in the body through the various detection tests available.
As mentioned previously, how cocaine is abused impacts how long it lasts in the body. Different methods of use introduce the substance to the central nervous system at a different rate, which dictates how it reacts in the body.
When cocaine is used more rapidly, it can increase the rate of addiction and lead to more frequent administration. When a substance is exposed to the body often, its presence will remain for a longer period as it will take the body longer to fully metabolize and eliminate it.
Larger amounts of cocaine will last longer in the body, especially frequent large doses, compared to smaller, infrequent doses. One of the main factors in determining how long a substance lasts in the body is metabolism. The body’s metabolism processes and aids in the elimination of the substance, although it can only respond at a certain rate determined by genetics.
As a result, when larger amounts are administered, it can take longer for the body to fully eliminate all traces of the substance.
How cocaine is metabolized can have a great impact on how long it is present in the system. Cocaine’s half-life can be dictated by many things, such as the method of use and whether it is processed into metabolites. Cocaine metabolites have a longer half-life than the concentrated substance itself and can be present in the body for days.2
In individuals with higher body masses, it can take longer for a substance to fully saturate. It also means that it can take longer for the body to later metabolize and eliminate the substance, impacting the duration of its presence.
Metabolic rate is one of the key factors in how long a substance is present. It dictates the rate at which the body can fully process and eliminate the substance and can vary between individuals.
Cocaine is one of the most addictive substances abused in the United States, which is due to its ability to raise dopamine levels in the brain and produce feelings of euphoria.
In 2018, there were five and a half million individuals who reported cocaine abuse within the year, with more unreported cases expected. This number comprises nearly 2% of the entire United States population. Only a year before this survey, cocaine overdoses made up nearly 20% of all overdose deaths in the United States.3
While illegal cocaine use has almost always been a present statistic in society, studies within the past decade of shown a growth rate of overdoses concerning the substance. Between 2012 and 2018, for example, the rate of cocaine overdose deaths more than tripled in the United States. However, similar studies have also shown that the rate of usage is not increasing in proportion to the rate of overdose.4 As a result, it is suspected that the rate of overdose is increasing as cocaine is combined more frequently with other illicit substances, increasing its negative side effects.
Multiple tests can detect the presence of cocaine within the body. Cocaine detection tests may evaluate different things, such as either hair or saliva and, as a result, may provide a different timeline that varies for each test.
Urine drug tests are one of the most common forms of detection tests. They can detect the presence of cocaine up to seventy-two hours from the last use. However, some substances may be detected weeks afterward.
Hair tests have the longest period of detection and can show cocaine usage up to ninety days after the last dosage.
Substances are eliminated from blood and saliva at the quickest rate compared to other tests. Blood tests will only demonstrate the presence of a substance a few hours after the last dosage.
Saliva tests are rapid, inexpensive detection tests but will only detect the presence of a substance a few hours after the last dosage.
While cocaine addiction can impact life in many ways, there is treatment available that can help reverse negative side effects and restore a healthy quality of life. Treatment for cocaine addiction can occur in several formats and settings, allowing patients to receive customized care tailored best to their needs. The PAC Program offers many of these treatments, including:
Integrated treatment is a complex form of rehabilitation treatment. It involves utilizing two or more forms of treatment, such as psychotherapy like cognitive-behavioral therapy and pharmacotherapy to treat multiple co-occurring conditions and addictions. Integrated treatment helps reduce the risk of relapse by treating all variables of a cocaine abuse disorder.
Even after professional treatment, counseling can aid in continuing recovery, which provides additional support viable to prevent relapse. Counseling allows individuals to recount situations and circumstances in a safe environment to better orient themselves with the events of the past and present.
Anonymous groups, such as Narcotics Anonymous, provide a way to connect with individuals in similar situations which can aid in developing support systems to better improve recovery.
Cocaine is often considered a party drug and, when taken recreationally, is abused in social environments. Lifestyle modifications can reduce triggers and aid a patient in realigning their daily routine with their goals for recovery.
Relapse prevention can come in many forms, or even a combination of different treatments, which are additional steps taken to maintain recovery.
Detoxification is one of the most significant treatments available for the treatment of cocaine addiction. Medical detoxification, more commonly known as a detox, allows the body to fully process and remove any traces of cocaine from the system, completely metabolizing any remaining chemical traces and eliminating any abuse symptoms.
Detoxification is most successful and safest when undergone in a medical facility where professional medical staff can provide consistent care for withdrawal symptoms that occur during detox. It can increase the rates of successful recoveries while also aiding in alleviating the discomfort faced as the body returns to its natural brain chemistry.
There are many different therapies utilized in treating cocaine addiction. While cognitive-behavioral therapy is one of the most common, there are different forms of therapy and counseling available to provide a multifaceted approach to the mental aspects of addiction.
Therapies may often be combined with MAT.
Medication-assisted treatment, also known as MAT, is a form of treatment for substance abuse that utilizes prescription medication used with professional guidance to boost the rates of a successful, long-term recovery.
While medication can be used to help alleviate the discomfort associated with withdrawal, it can also be used to reduce the addictiveness of cocaine. Since cocaine creates a feeling of euphoria by elevating levels of dopamine and other positive brain chemicals, medicine can be used to block these effects and reduce the desire to abuse the substance.
If you or a loved one needs help, please call us at
623-523-4748 and our team at Blueprints For Recovery in Arizona will help.