How Long Does Cocaine Stay in Your System?

Last Updated: February 5, 2024

Editorial Policy | Research Policy

Cocaine drug tests may use urine, saliva, blood or hair samples to detect recent cocaine use. However, some tests are more likely to be used than others.

Cocaine is an extremely addictive substance and a popular drug of abuse. Because cocaine has been around for decades, it is often one of the drugs that workplaces and treatment facilities will test for. 

Cocaine is part of standard 5-panel and 10-panel urine drug tests, but there are also other tests that do not require urine. Other common tests use blood, hair or saliva samples, and different tests may be used in different situations. Cocaine will be detectable in the body for varying amounts of time depending on what test was used.

What Is Cocaine?

Cocaine is a powerful stimulant with a high potential for abuse. Stimulants like cocaine are addictive because they cause intense feelings of pleasure, or euphoria. Stimulants increase different processes in the body, including thinking, breathing and heart rate.

Cocaine is normally sold as a white powder that can be smoked, snorted or injected. The method of consumption can change how quickly the drug works, but it generally does not affect how long the drug stays in the body.

Part of the reason cocaine is so addictive is that it can cause severe withdrawal symptoms like depression, slowed thinking, trouble sleeping and tiredness. If someone is addicted to cocaine, they may choose to take more instead of experiencing withdrawal.

How Long Does Cocaine Take To Kick In? 

Cocaine starts working within a few minutes of taking it. It will work faster if injected instead of snorted, as the drug directly enters the bloodstream through an injection. The effects of cocaine usually last about 30 minutes. This period can be shorter if someone uses cocaine often.

How Is Cocaine Used? 

There are several ways cocaine can be used. These include

  • Injecting cocaine into a blood vessel by using a needle and syringe
  • Rubbing on the gums (oral cocaine)
  • Smoking crack cocaine
  • Snorting cocaine through the nose

Cocaine starts working more quickly when it’s injected or smoked. Other methods are slower but still fast, taking about one to two minutes to take effect.

How Is Cocaine Metabolized in the Body?

Cocaine is mostly metabolized by the liver. Snorting, smoking or injecting cocaine avoids the “first-pass metabolism.” First-pass metabolism is when a drug is taken by mouth and goes through the liver before entering the bloodstream. This does not happen when a substance is ingested through other methods. 

An enzyme in the liver called CYP3A4 is mostly responsible for metabolizing cocaine. The enzyme attaches another molecule to cocaine, making it inert and allowing it to be removed from the body via urine and feces.

Cocaine Half-Life

Half-life is a common measure that indicates how long it usually takes the body to remove half of a substance. After five half-lives, most drugs will be completely removed from the body. Half-life is a useful tool for determining whether cocaine will still be detectable in the body after a certain period. 

The half-life of cocaine is about 1.5 hours, so it takes about 7.5 hours for the drug to be metabolized from the body. However, metabolites of cocaine may remain in the body for much longer. These metabolites are what drug tests are searching for.

How Long Is Cocaine Detected by a Drug Test?

How long cocaine is detectable in the body depends on several different factors. Some of the most important factors include how much cocaine was used and what type of test was used. Generally, the more someone uses cocaine, the longer it can be detected.

The types of tests for cocaine are similar to tests for other drugs. Common tests include urine, blood, hair and saliva tests. In different settings, these tests can have varying degrees of usefulness. For example, a blood test is usually never used for cocaine because it leaves the blood too quickly.

How Long Does Cocaine Stay In Your Urine? 

The most commonly used test for cocaine is a urine test. Urine tests are non-invasive, quick, easy and inexpensive. Most urine cocaine tests will detect whether the drug was used within the last two to four days.

How Long Does Cocaine Stay In Your Blood?

How long does cocaine stay in the bloodstream? Cocaine stays in the blood for a bit less than eight hours, but the metabolite benzoylecgonine stays in the blood for up to two days. However, blood tests are invasive and expensive, and they cannot detect cocaine for as long as a urine test. For these reasons, they are rarely used.

How Long Does Cocaine Stay In Your Hair?

How long do drugs stay in the hair follicle? Hair testing is the method that can look back the longest. This type of testing can see if a person used cocaine up to 90 days ago. However, hair testing is expensive and requires specialized lab equipment, so it is not very common. 

How Long Does Cocaine Stay In Your Saliva?

How far back will a mouth swab drug test go? Saliva tests are another method for detecting cocaine use. Saliva tests are quick, non-invasive and hard to cheat because you can be easily observed during the test. Saliva tests can look back one to two days.

Factors Affecting How Long Cocaine Stays in Your System

The metabolism of cocaine is very consistent compared to other drugs. It is only affected by a few things in terms of how quickly it’s removed from the body. The most common factors that affect cocaine metabolism are:

  • Kidney function
  • Liver function
  • How long cocaine has been used
  • How much cocaine has been used
  • Whether cocaine has been used other with other substances, especially alcohol

An important factor in cocaine metabolism is whether it was taken with alcohol. When cocaine and alcohol are combined, they make a third substance called cocaethylene, which is more toxic than cocaine and alcohol. It takes the body about twice as long to metabolize cocaethylene than cocaine.

Does Method of Use Influence How Long Cocaine Stays in Your System?

How a person takes cocaine does not tend to influence how quickly it leaves the system. Whether snorted, smoked, injected or rubbed on the gums, cocaine will stay in the body for about the same amount of time. It will start working in one to two minutes, last 30 minutes and leave the body in eight hours.

Cocaine False Positives

The test for cocaine is very specific. The metabolite that is being tested, benzoylecgonine, is a unique molecule. For this reason, there are no known drugs that will trigger a cocaine false positive.

How To Get Cocaine Out of Your System

There is no shortcut to getting cocaine out of your system more quickly. The only way to metabolize cocaine is with time. There are many products for sale that claim to produce clean drug tests, but there is no research that supports that they work.

Get Help for Cocaine Addiction in South Jersey, NJ

If you or someone you know is struggling with cocaine addiction in the South Jersey area, help is available at The Recovery Village Cherry Hill at Cooper. We have a variety of treatment services available, including medical detoxoutpatient treatmentpartial hospitalizationinpatient treatmentmedication-assisted treatment (MAT)teletherapy and many other programs.

Our team consists of experts who are trained in the latest evidence-based treatment approaches for addiction and co-occurring mental health conditions. Our amenities include entertainment lounges, a game room, a yoga room, a fitness facility, and a volleyball court.

The Recovery Village Cherry Hill at Cooper is here to help you begin the journey to a healthier, substance-free life in recovery. Contact us today to learn more about cocaine addiction treatment programs that can work well for your situation.


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Food and Drug Administration. “Cocaine Package Insert.” January 2020. Accessed August 15, 2022.

Hallare, Jericho; et al. “Half Life.” StatPearls, June 23, 2022. Accessed August 15, 2022.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. “What is Cocaine?” April 2021. Accessed August 15, 2022.

Haldeman-Englert, Chad; et al. “Cocaine Screen.” University of Rochester Medical Center. Accessed August 15, 2022.

Mobile Health. “5 Panel Drug Test.” Accessed August 15, 2022.

Mobile Health. “What are the Different Drug Panels?” Accessed August 15, 2022.

Quest Diagnostics. “Hair Testing Overview.” Accessed August 15, 2022.

Pergolizzi, Joseph; et al. “Cocaethylene: When Cocaine and Alcoho[…]e Taken Together.” Cureus, February 22, 2022. Accessed August 15, 2022.

Tchounwou, Paul. “Positivity to Cocaine and/or Benzoylecgo[…]-Road Tests in Spain.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, May 2021. Accessed August 15, 2022.

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