Great! You finally got that amazing job you have been angling for, and they want you to start right away. But, there’s just one problem: you recently snorted cocaine, and the job offer is contingent on a clean urine test. Perhaps you are a heavy user. Or maybe you are an employer or parent who suspects that someone in your company or family is abusing this powerful drug, and you wish to get them tested. The question that is almost certainly on your mind is, “How long does cocaine stay in your system?” There is not one answer, as you’ll see. It depends on a variety of factors. Let’s explore them so you have the best possible information to answer that question.
5 Factors which affect how long cocaine lasts in your system
- Quantity: How much cocaine was used?
- Mixing: Was cocaine combined with other drugs or alcohol?
- Frequency: How often is cocaine being used?
- History: How far back has this frequency of use been going on?
- Type of Sample: Urine test vs. Hair test
So, Just How Long Is Cocaine in Your System?
Here’s a few guidelines to help you understand how far the urine or hair tests go back to pick up drug use:
Typically, a single use of cocaine in a person with average metabolism will test positive on a urine test for three to five days. If you don’t have a cocaine addiction, and you just use it once-in-a-blue moon (for example, you just happened to be at a party the same week that you received the job offer), then you’ll probably pass with a urine sample. Hair samples go back further, but they don’t generally pick up a single usage. Nevertheless, read on…
Even if you only got high on a single night, the more lines you did, the longer cocaine is going to last in the urine, and the more likely the cocaine will get picked up in a hair test. Two lines last longer than one. Three lines of cocaine will stay in your system for a longer period of time than two, and so on.
If you are regularly getting high on cocaine, all bets are off. The time frame for detection in the urine becomes significantly longer as the frequency of use goes up. And hair samples will definitely pick up evidence of long term cocaine usage – that’s exactly what their designed to do.
Why does dosage and frequency matter?
After smoking, snorting, or otherwise ingesting crack or other forms of cocaine, it gets metabolized by your body. Otherwise known as sobering up, this metabolization process is what your body does to get the cocaine out of your system. The good news is that you return to normal functioning, but the process leaves distinct traces – called “metabolites” – in your system for a period of time. The amount of time it takes for half the quantity of a drug to be metabolized is called its “half-life.” Research has shown cocaine’s metabolites have a longer half-life than the drug itself, suggesting that higher doses and frequent usage increase the length of time that any given use can be detected in urine or hair.
Mixing Cocaine with Alcohol
Let’s be clear about one thing: mixing alcohol with cocaine is extremely risky. As any high school gym teacher, part-time health instructor, or teenager who pays any attention at all to either of those adults in class can tell you: uppers and downers simply do not mix. You know the effects of cocaine – it speeds things up. You certainly know the effects of alcohol – it mellows things out. These things are opposites. Combining them tells your body to speed up and slow down at the same time.
Imagine you were driving a car and you hit the gas and the brakes at the same time. Not too safe, right? It’s bad news, dangerous, and potentially fatal to mix uppers and downers, especially alcohol and cocaine. A wickedly toxic chemical called Cocaethylene forms in the liver when cocaine and alcohol are taken together. This stuff is not a joke – it often makes the heart race so fast that users end up in the emergency room. Sudden death can occur. Furthermore, cocaethylene has a half life of its own, separate from the run-of-the-mill cocaine metabolites. That’s one more thing for a drug test to pick up, and it typically lasts even longer in the system than the cocaine metabolites themselves.
Type of Sample
Cocaine can be detected in urine, blood and hair samples. Saliva tests are another option but is not widely available Urine drug tests are easy and offered almost everywhere in a test of at least 5 panels or greater. Hair drug tests go back 90 days or more, and the cocaine stays in your hair indefinitely. Blood testing can also detect cocaine, but it is rarely used in practice. In certain extreme situations such as cocaine overdose or death, a blood test might be administered, for example, at a hospital, if the individual is unable to provide a specimen on their own.