What Is Cocaine and How Does It Affect Your Body?
Cocaine is a fast-acting and powerful drug made from coca plant leaves. It’s a chemical stimulant that affects the central nervous system. Users who take cocaine may feel more confident and alert, and the drug often causes an intense euphoric high that lasts for a few minutes to an hour. Unfortunately, cocaine can be psychologically and physically addictive, and it has a high potential for abuse. In the United States, cocaine is a heavily restricted drug that is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance. Under United States federal law, it is illegal to possess cocaine, yet it remains a popular and common recreational substance.
Table of Contents
- 1 How Do People Use Cocaine?
- 2 How Long Does Cocaine Stay In Your System?
- 3 What Are Cocaine Metabolites?
- 4 How Do Drug Tests Identify Cocaine?
- 5 What Is Cocaine Withdrawal?
- 6 How Long Does Cocaine Withdrawal Last?
- 7 How Can Cocaine Withdrawal Be Managed?
- 8 What Is a Cocaine Overdose?
- 9 What Treatments Are Available for Cocaine Addiction?
- 10 How Can I Ask for Help?
How Do People Use Cocaine?
Cocaine is fairly easy to consume. It takes effect quickly, but how quickly and long a user feels the effects of cocaine depends on how they use it. Cocaine can be powdered, solidified, or liquefied. It can be snorted through the nose, injected, rubbed into the gums, or smoked. If you snort cocaine, it will travel through your body’s mucous membranes and tissues before it enters your bloodstream, so it may take three to five minutes to feel high. Smoking and intravenous injections immediately deliver the drug to your bloodstream and produce effects within five to ten seconds. All of these delivery mechanisms produce a high that lasts about 20 minutes. If you ingest cocaine, it will become active in about 10 to 30 minutes, but you may feel its effects for up to an hour. Using cocaine with other drugs can also change the duration or intensity of the high.
How Long Does Cocaine Stay In Your System?
The mode of delivery doesn’t just affect how you feel when you use cocaine; it also influences how long cocaine will remain in your system. Cocaine can stay in your body for up to four days, but it can also leave behind traces of evidence that stick around for weeks, months, and even years. Cocaine can be detected in your urine, blood, saliva, or hair. Many variables, like your body weight, metabolism, frequency of use, and the amount you take, influence how long the drug will stay in your system. An hour after you take cocaine, half of the dose will leave your bloodstream. If you snort cocaine, rub it into your gums, or take it while drinking alcohol, your body may eliminate it less quickly than it would if you injected or smoked it. If you’ve ever wondered, “How long does cocaine stay in urine?” the answer is less than three days. The more cocaine you consume, the longer your body will take to get rid of the drug. Long-term or frequent use may cause cocaine to linger in your body, making it detectable for longer. The purity of the drug can also affect the length of time it stays in your system. It’s unlikely that you can flush cocaine from your body by drinking water, although the drug may stay in your tissues longer if you are dehydrated.
What Are Cocaine Metabolites?
Your body produces byproducts called metabolites as it metabolizes, or processes, cocaine. As your body breaks down the drug, various metabolites travel through your bloodstream, accumulate in your cells and tissues, and pass into your urine. Some metabolites stay in your body longer than others. The most commonly screened metabolite is benzoylecgonine, a substance that can be stored in fatty tissues. If you have a high body fat percentage, you’re more likely to retain cocaine metabolites in your system.
How Do Drug Tests Identify Cocaine?
Cocaine and its metabolites can be identified by drug screening tests given within two to ten days after use. Sometimes the detection window is longer. The amount of time a test will be viable can also depend on the test given. Generally, blood or saliva tests can detect cocaine and its metabolites for up to two days after use. Urine tests can show a positive response for up to three days for average users, and heavy users can test positive within a 14-day window. Cocaine can be detected in your hair for up to three months. In some cases, traces of cocaine can be found in your hair years after you take it, but this is less likely if you cut your hair.
What Is Cocaine Withdrawal?
The sooner you stop using cocaine, the faster it will leave your body. If you are a frequent or heavy user, you may experience symptoms of cocaine withdrawal a few hours to a few days after you stop using the drug. If you are affected by cocaine withdrawal, you may experience the following symptoms:
- lack of focus
How Long Does Cocaine Withdrawal Last?
Cocaine withdrawal can last several days and sometimes longer. Three commonly experienced stages of cocaine withdrawal are listed below.
Acute Cocaine Withdrawal
The initial withdrawal period may involve the acute onset of symptoms that may be severe. This phase can last up to two weeks. A user needs to be extremely self-aware or carefully monitored and supported through the extreme exhaustion and depression that can occur when they stop using cocaine.
Post-acute Cocaine Withdrawal
A user may continue to feel fatigued and moody after acute withdrawal. Changes in appetite and cocaine cravings are common. The combined acute and post-acute withdrawal periods may last two weeks or more.
Prolonged Cocaine Withdrawal
Prolonged cocaine withdrawal can include persistent fatigue and depression lasting for weeks or months. Some people will experience extreme drug cravings or changes in demeanor during this time.
How Can Cocaine Withdrawal Be Managed?
It’s always a good idea to reach out for assistance if cutting back on cocaine becomes too uncomfortable. With caution and attention, some people can manage the detoxification process at home, but clinical supervision is often advised. In every circumstance, you should practice self-care. Eating nutritious food and drinking plenty of fluids regularly can help you feel better. If you can, try to eliminate stressors from your life for a few days. Take a long bath, massage, go outside, or watch a movie. Keep in touch with friends you trust, and call your primary physician or a professional if you feel overwhelmed.
What Is a Cocaine Overdose?
Cocaine users should be aware of the risks taking the drug presents and be able to recognize signs of an overdose. Chest pain, an irregular pulse, rising blood pressure, and extreme agitation should be taken extremely seriously and require immediate medical attention. A cocaine overdose can cause hallucinations, seizures, or heart attacks. These conditions can be critically injurious or fatal.
What Treatments Are Available for Cocaine Addiction?
A person who is addicted to cocaine will keep using it even if it is causing harm. Addiction can’t be cured, but it can be managed and treated. When cocaine use becomes unmanageable, some people seek inpatient or outpatient treatment at a drug rehabilitation facility. Individual and group therapy can include individual and group sessions, cognitive behavioral techniques, and adventure therapy. These treatments can strengthen your resolve, self-esteem, and ability to function without chemical substances. Drug addiction treatment is not one-size-fits-all; different treatments work for different people. Medication-assisted treatments are a viable option for some people. The best treatment for you depends on your situation and the severity of your condition. If you feel like your cocaine use is out of control or damaging your life and relationships, it’s important to ask for help. Seek out a compassionate, knowledgeable physician or a drug rehabilitation professional you can trust to help you find the path back to a healthier lifestyle.
How Can I Ask for Help?
If you have an unhealthy relationship with cocaine, consider reaching out to the professionals at Garden State Treatment Center in Sparta, New Jersey. Our caring staff has the training and expertise to facilitate your recovery. We can provide you with therapies and treatments that ease your suffering and take you beyond addiction.