How Long Does Cocaine Stay in Your System?

Cocaine is a powerful stimulant that impacts the central nervous system, speeding up transmission of messages from the brain to the body and increasing the amount of dopamine in the brain. This creates a short but potent high, which often results in repeated use to maintain. Cravings for the effects of cocaine can quickly spiral into problematic use and create physical dependence.

What are the short-term effects of cocaine?

Cocaine, also known as coke, works almost instantly on the central nervous system, creating the euphoric high that is typical of the drug. When cocaine is acting on the body, users will experience several short-term effects including:

  • Elevated heart rate and blood pressure
  • Euphoria
  • Increased alertness and wakefulness
  • Dilated pupils
  • Increased body temperature
  • Agitation or restlessness
  • Sweating
  • Increased respiration
  • Possibility of stroke

In addition to these physical and physiological effects, cocaine increases the likelihood of risky or dangerous behavior as the drug makes a person feel overconfident in their physical abilities.

What are the long-term effects of cocaine?

Cocaine use has harmful health long-term effects when used on a long-term basis. These may be related to the route of administration, such as snorting or injecting the drug. These effects include:

  • Increased risk of stroke
  • Increased risk of seizures or Parkinson’s Disease
  • Heart inflammation
  • Cognitive deficits including memory, attention, problem-solving, and decision-making
  • Weight loss
  • Nosebleeds
  • Loss of sense of smell
  • Chronic runny nose
  • Exacerbated asthma
  • Aortic ruptures
  • Risk of HIV or hepatitis from shared needles

How long do the effects of cocaine last?

The cocaine high generally lasts anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes depending on how it was administered. The method of use impacts not only the duration of the effects but also how quickly the effects come on.

When snorting, which is one of the most common ways to use cocaine, the effects can be felt after about 3-5 minutes and last up to 30 minutes. Cocaine that is smoked or used intravenously has the fastest onset, mere seconds after use. Both routes of administration result in a high that lasts around 20 minutes. When ingested orally, cocaine’s effects are felt within 10-30 minutes and can last up to 90 minutes.

Side effects associated with cocaine use such as dilated pupils or agitation might persist after the high wears off. Due to the short-lived effects of cocaine, it is common for individuals using the substance to take several doses over a short period of time to maintain the effects of the drug. This increases the likelihood of physical dependence and addiction.

Factors that impact how long cocaine stays in your system

Many factors can affect how long cocaine is present and detectable in the body. These factors can also impact the intensity of the high and the severity of the crash or comedown when cocaine is finally eliminated.


One of the most significant factors that impact how long cocaine stays in your body is the dosage taken. Larger doses will take longer to fully eliminate than smaller doses. This means that a person who had several doses of cocaine over a short period will have a higher dosage in the body to eliminate. A drug’s purity must also be considered when referring to dosage. Since cocaine is made and sold illicitly, it may be cut or mixed with other substances, some which may be inert and some which may be more dangerous. Dosage, in this case, refers to the dose of pure cocaine. When a drug is more pure, its effects are more potent and traces of the drug will remain in the system longer.

Frequency of use

When cocaine is used more frequently, it builds up in the system, requiring more time for the drug to be fully eliminated from the system. In addition, this build-up can impair the body’s efficiency at eliminating the drug, slowing down this process.

Other substances used

When mixed with other substances, like alcohol or opiates, cocaine may take more time to eliminate than when used on its own. This is because the body has a more complex task that requires juggling the elimination of multiple substances. In addition to affecting the time it takes for cocaine to remain in the body, polysubstance use can result in greater danger for overdose or death. That’s because drugs taken together can have a synergistic effect, amplifying the effects of each individual drug. This can lead to unexpected and dangerous side effects.

Individual factors

Everyone’s metabolism is different, which means that the rate at which one person can eliminate cocaine from the body may be faster or slower depending on many individual factors. These can include age, weight, kidney and liver functioning, and body mass.

History of use

When used long-term, cocaine stays in the system longer. This means it will take a longer time for a person to detoxify if they have a long history of cocaine use than it would for a person who has only ever used it a couple of times. In part, this is because people who use cocaine frequently develop a tolerance, requiring larger doses to have the same effects. When a person has a longer history of cocaine use, the drug will be detectable for longer on a drug test.
Understanding cocaine half-life

A drug’s half-life is the time it takes for half of the drug to be eliminated. Cocaine’s half-life is around one hour and a half. This means that one dose can be fully eliminated after about 7.5 hours. However, this doesn’t mean that the drug is no longer detectable in the system.

Cocaine is metabolized in the liver and blood by enzymes, leaving traces of certain metabolites in the bloodstream even after the drug is fully eliminated. Benzoylecgonine is cocaine’s main metabolite, which is formed in the liver and secreted in urine. Even when the concentration of cocaine is no longer detectable, benzoylecgonine’s concentration in urine is 50 to 100 times greater.

How long does cocaine stay in your system?

It’s important to note that even though the high typically lasts for up to 30 minutes, traces of the drug can remain in the body for several hours. Even if traces of cocaine are no longer in the system, its metabolites, like benzoylecgonine (BE) and ecgonine methyl ester (EME), can be detectable for several days. How long it is detectible in the system depends on the type of test used to test for it.


Urine tests can detect cocaine and benzoylecgonine, which is detectable for 4-5 days after last use. This metabolite is detectable much longer than cocaine itself, which leaves the body too quickly to be detected after use.


Cocaine use is detectable with a blood test for up to two days after use.


In saliva, cocaine can be detected for up to two days after use.


Hair testing offers the longest detection window of up to 90 days. In hair, substances such as cocaine leave deposits for up to three months, depending on the rate of hair growth. This type of testing is expensive and less common.
Cocaine Withdrawal

Cocaine’s addictiveness comes in part from the release of dopamine when the drug is used. This excess in dopamine makes users feel euphoric when the drug is taken. However, when cocaine use is stopped, the sudden lapse in the presence of dopamine can lead to unpleasant symptoms of withdrawal. Withdrawal from cocaine can lead to symptoms such as fatigue, drowsiness, depression, stomachaches, and anxiety.

During this period, a person is at risk of relapsing since further use would increase the availability of dopamine and reduce the severity of symptoms. Cocaine withdrawal is best managed under supervised detox, wherein an individual can be monitored closely by medical professionals who can moderate treatment to alleviate withdrawal symptoms.

Cocaine Addiction Treatment and Detox at Riverwalk Ranch
A Dallas-Fort Worth Metropolitan Area Addiction Treatment Center

At Riverwalk Ranch, we treat cocaine withdrawal and addiction as part of our comprehensive addiction treatment services. Located in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, our professionals use only empirically-supported treatments to help you safely and comfortably begin your journey toward recovery. Our facilities provide a comfortable and encouraging safe haven to detox, surrounded by medical professionals, addiction specialists, and other like-minded individuals all working toward a healthier drug-free life.

If you or a loved one is suffering from cocaine addiction, don’t hesitate to contact our addiction treatment center today at (877) 863-3869. Whether you call Texas home or you’re looking for a fresh start away from the toxic environment at home, Riverwalk Ranch can provide a therapeutic and supportive home for you. Everyone deserves a happy and healthy life free from addiction, and we are committed to helping you overcome cocaine addiction in order to get you there.

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