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How Long Does Cocaine Stay in Your System?

Teen girl making cocaine line with black credit card on glass surface.  

The question of how long cocaine stays in your body depends on several factors, including the half-life of cocaine and individual factors like amount used, weight and metabolic rate.

Cocaine Detection Times

When teens use cocaine, it gets into the bloodstream and is transported to the liver, where it is broken into the metabolic byproducts benzoylecgonine and ecgonine methyl ester. These byproducts are recirculated in the bloodstream until they are excreted in urine or feces. Drug tests often screen for metabolic byproducts rather than cocaine itself.

  • How long does cocaine stay in your saliva? Cocaine in saliva can be detected for two to three days after the last use.
  • How long does cocaine stay in your urine? Cocaine detection in urine is generally possible for two to three days after the latest use and may be detectable for five or more days in someone who regularly uses large amounts of cocaine.
  • How long does cocaine stay in your blood? A cocaine blood test can identify cocaine or cocaine metabolites for two to three days after the last use.
  • How long does cocaine stay in your hair? A cocaine hair test is unique in that it can deliver positive test results for up to three months after the last use. This rate is because hair follicles need blood in order to produce hair, and hair that is growing when cocaine circulates through the follicle will incorporate it into the new strand.

Factors Affecting How Long Cocaine Stays in Your Body

Several factors can influence how long cocaine elimination takes, but the main determinant in how long a drug test can identify cocaine is cocaine’s half-life, which is roughly one hour. The half-life of a drug indicates the amount of time it takes for half of the drug that is present to be broken down, and as a general rule, it takes five half-lives for a drug to be almost completely eliminated. Thus, it takes approximately five hours after the last use for cocaine to be metabolized.

The reason that drug tests can pick up cocaine for a few days after the last use is that they usually screen for cocaine metabolites, which have half-lives of 12 to 15 hours. Consequently, they are detectable for approximately 60 to 75 hours or about two-and-a-half to three days.

Other factors that affect how long cocaine or its metabolites are present include:

  • Frequency of use
  • Amount used
  • Method of use
  • Metabolic rate
  • Bodyweight
  • Genetics
  • Health status

Drug Testing Your Teen for Cocaine

It is important for parents to be aware that false positive drug tests for cocaine are possible, especially with testing kits that are purchased over-the-counter (OTC). If you choose to test your teen with an at-home cocaine drug test kit and they have a positive result, the next step should be to have them retested at a valid drug testing center that has more accurate cocaine testing protocols.

The best way to test your teen for cocaine or any other drug use is to make an appointment with a reputable rehab facility or drug testing center that can provide scientifically valid results. The most obvious benefit of choosing to let professionals perform the drug test is to ensure accurate results, but a secondary benefit is that your teen will not have the chance to use “cleansing kits” that can mask cocaine or other drugs.

Cocaine use disorders can have profoundly negative short- and long-term consequences and teenagers face particular risks. If you are worried that your teen is using cocaine or any other substances, we can help. Contact Next Generation Village to get more information about drug testing, rehab programs and long-term support and aftercare that will help ensure your teen has the best chance at healthy, substance-free adulthood.

Medical Disclaimer: Next Generation Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

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