Cocaine is a stimulant that was once used medicinally, but it’s now more commonly known as a recreational party drug. Over the decades, it has become more prevalent among casual drug takers. Its rise in popularity has led to more people developing a cocaine addiction

If you use cocaine, you may think that once the effect has worn off that the drug is out of your system. This is not the case. 

You may find yourself in a situation where a cocaine drug test may be required. For example, when you’re starting a new job, some companies will require you to undergo a routine drug test. Because of situations like this, it is important to know about the lingering effects of cocaine and how long it stays in your system.


 How Long Does Cocaine Last in Your Body? 

Cocaine has a much shorter half-life than most other illicit drugs. In pharmacology, a half-life is the time needed for the plasma or blood level of the drug inside you to reduce by 50%. With a quicker half-life, the effects last less time. 

With the effects of the drug leaving you fast, that means all trace of cocaine is generally gone within a few days. While this can be good if you are worried about a drug test, if you are suffering from an addiction, it means you will start to feel cocaine withdrawal symptoms much sooner. 

It’s also worth noting that this can also heavily depend on where the sample is taken from on your body, as some methods will identify traces of cocaine in your system months after consumption.


How Cocaine is Metabolised 

Cocaine is quickly absorbed into your body via snorting or injecting the drug. Once inside, your body begins the cocaine metabolism process. This metabolization is mainly done by enzymes in your blood and liver – this is why long-term cocaine abuse can severely damage that particular organ.  

A chemical in your blood plasma called plasma butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) breaks down the cocaine in your body to an ecgonine methyl ester (EME). It is also reduced to a metabolite called benzoylecgonine (BE). This metabolite stays in your body much longer than the actual drug itself, and that is why a cocaine drug test looks for BE rather than cocaine. 

Along with factors such as sustained use and cocaine purity, a person’s natural BChE level will affect how quickly they metabolise the drug. If yours is lower, you increase the risk of negative side effects such as an overdose.


Factors Affecting Cocaine in Your System 

 As stated above, there are many factors that can influence how long cocaine stays in your system. 

 Drug Use History 

If you have a history of drug addiction and cocaine use, then the metabolites may remain in your system for extended periods. As you don’t give your body enough time to purge itself of cocaine, it builds up in you. This can happen if you take small amounts over a longer period or binge on cocaine in a much smaller timeframe. 

 Cocaine Purity 

The purity of drugs means that a higher percentage of their chemical makeup is the drug you are taking – rather than it being cut with other chemicals. A more potent and purer product can extend cocaine detection time as there is more of it there compared to a lower-quality and less refined batch. 

 Other Substances in Your System 

Different substances can change how your body processes cocaine. If cocaine is combined with alcohol, it can create cocaethylene. This is a psychoactive substance that shares similar characteristics to cocaine but has a half-life nearly five times that of cocaine. The effects may last longer, but it also means the traces stay in your body longer than they might usually. 


There might be some factors that you can’t control such as your age and gender. Older bodies are not as efficient at breaking down substances and women generally carry more body fat than men – meaning it takes longer to process the drug. Other biological factors include genetics, existing liver issues, weight and urine pH.  


What are the Long and Short-Term Effects of Cocaine? 

Cocaine increases dopamine levels in your body. This chemical is responsible for pleasure, so people take it recreationally to feel better and more energetic. Cocaine is fast acting and fades quicker than other drugs – encouraging addictive behaviour. 

Addiction takes hold when people want to get that hit of dopamine and start taking more cocaine to feel the same effects as before. If you continue to take cocaine to achieve the “positive” effects, you may need to seek treatment in a private drug and alcohol rehab. 

Short-term effects: 

  • Euphoria.
  • Feeling energetic.
  • Talkative.
  • Dilated pupils.
  • Increased heart rate.

Long-term effects: 

  • Weight loss.
  • Aggression.
  • Paranoia.
  • Stroke.
  • Nose bleeds.

Common Cocaine Testing Methods 

Drugs can be tested for in several ways, and each method has a different cocaine detection time.  


Cocaine is detectable in your blood as it remains in your blood plasma. The half-life for cocaine there is around one and a half hours. With a blood test, you can test positive for cocaine up to two days after you last took the drug.  


A saliva test is not particularly invasive, usually involving a mouth swap. Like a blood test, this is only able to find the presence of metabolites within a small window. You could test positive with a saliva test up to 1-2 days after last taking cocaine.  


Probably the most common type of drug test as it is fairly evasive. Cocaine can stay in your urine for up to three days after your last use. In more regular and heavy users, the metabolite BE can stay in your urine for up to two weeks. 


The test with the longest cocaine detection time. Your body doesn’t naturally get rid of hair – it grows, so the presence of cocaine can stay in the follicles for months or even years after using the drug. This test cannot always be trusted, though, as false positives can occur if cocaine is deposited into your hair due to places you’ve been. 


Detection Times for Cocaine 

 The cocaine detection time varies due to the various parts of your body that hold the drug for different amounts of time. Cocaine is processed more quickly in water, which is why all trace of the metabolites is usually gone in your blood and urine after 1 or 2 days. The half-life of cocaine in blood and urine is an hour and a half hours and one day, respectively. 

Cocaine remains in your hair longer because it dissolves better in fat and oils. The half-life of cocaine in your hair can be up to 45 days, meaning the metabolites can be detected way past that. 

In saliva, cocaine can be detectable for around five to twelve hours. The metabolites can be detected up to 12-24 hours. In sweat, it is longer – around 1-2 weeks. 


Cocaine Addiction Treatment 

 If you are worried about cocaine detection times and lingering effects, then you may need professional treatment. 

Through a comprehensive drug addiction programme, you can rid yourself of your cocaine addiction. The first step of this is going through cocaine detox. When you begin this process, you are likely to experience cocaine withdrawal symptoms such as sweating, nausea, depression, cravings, headaches and anxiety. 

It is challenging, but as you go through rehab and learn coping mechanisms, you’ll become better at dealing with your problem. 


Get Help Today 

Whilst the effects of cocaine can leave you quickly, the traces of it can remain much longer and bring negative consequences. If you are worried about your cocaine use, then it might be time to get help. Ocean Recovery is a well-established drug rehab that can help you turn your life around. 

Don’t delay, and get in touch with our admissions team right now. Call us at 0800 880 7596.

John Gillen - Author - Last updated: May 19, 2023

John is one UK’s leading professionals in the addiction recovery industry. Pioneering new treatment techniques such as NAD+ and ongoing research into new therapy techniques such as systematic laser therapy, John is committed to providing the very best treatment for people throughout the UK and Europe. During his extremely busy schedule, John likes to regularly update our blog section with the latest news and trends in the industry to keep visitors to our site as well informed as possible on everything related to addiction treatment.