How Long Does Cocaine Stay in Your System?
What is Cocaine?
Cocaine is the purified chemical cocaine hydrochloride from the leaves of the coca plant, native to South America. When ingested, the chemical causes the release of dopamine in the body which gives off a feeling of euphoria. Other effects of cocaine can be an increase in confidence, energy, a rise in social abilities as well as give off a strong feeling of accomplishment. This is one of the reasons why cocaine is popular amongst Wall Street Executives. Cocaine is the most powerful central nervous stimulant found in nature.
The chemical in cocaine was only first extracted from the leaves in 1859 and began becoming popular in medical communities in the 1880s. It began being used widely in the early 1900s as the main ingredient in a lot of medical tonics to treat a wide array of diseases and was even an ingredient in an earlier version of Coca Cola. However, since it has been recognized as a highly addictive substance with a potential for abuse, it has been classified as a class 2 drug and many laws are being implemented towards preventing its use and distribution in most countries.
In the United States, the official ban on cocaine was passed in 1922 after thousands of reported deaths each year due to cocaine use.
Cocaine essentially blocks dopamine that is released by one’s nervous system from re-dispersing itself naturally. Usually, when dopamine is released it is transferred from one neuron to another and then sent back. Cocaine blocks the dopamine from being returned to the transmitting neuron. This results in a heightened sense of Euphoria that lasts longer than nature intended. Dopamine is naturally released during the body during enjoyable activities such as eating or engaging in sexual activity.
Cocaine can be ingested in several ways. The most common method is inhalation through the nose where the drug is absorbed into the nasal tissue and then into the bloodstream. Other methods involve rubbing the powder into the gums, smoking it in a crack form, or dissolving the cocaine in water and injecting it directly into the bloodstream.
How Long Does Cocaine Stay in Your System?
The detectable remnants of cocaine stay in your body for different amounts of time depending on how long cocaine was used. After last use, cocaine can typically show up on a blood or saliva test for up to 2 days, a urine test for up to 3 days, and a hair test for months to years. A heavy user can test positive on a urine test for up to 2 weeks. Other factors can also influence how long cocaine stays in your system. The factors include body weight, metabolism, and frequency of use. Drinking alcohol while using cocaine may also make cocaine stay in your system longer. It is important to note that mixing alcohol and cocaine is a very dangerous combination as it increases the effects of both substances on the body. Ingesting both cocaine and alcohol causes more deaths than any other drug combination.
Is Cocaine Addictive?
When someone is not under the influence of any substances, the natural state of the body is in homeostasis. When something exciting happens dopamine is released which creates the feeling of happiness. When one uses cocaine regularly, the body becomes accustomed to the extra feeling of euphoria and acts as such. Therefore, when you are not in a state of euphoria, your body will crave to get there. This is the main reason for the highly addictive quality of cocaine. According to a 2007 study, cocaine was found to be the second most addictive drug behind heroin.
In addition to being addictive, frequent users of the drug generally need to increase their ingestion of cocaine to maintain the same high. Smoking cocaine in the form of crack (named for the sound it makes when lit) is the most addictive form of cocaine.
Cocaine Effects on the Body
Use of cocaine can have both short term and long term effects on one’s body
- Loss of appetite
- Increased heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature
- Contracted blood vessels
- Increased rate of breathing
- Dilated pupils
- Disturbed sleep patterns
- Bizarre, erratic, sometimes violent behavior
- Hallucinations, hyperexcitability, irritability
- A tactile hallucination that creates the illusion of bugs burrowing under the skin
- Intense euphoria
- Anxiety and paranoia
- Intense drug craving
- Panic and psychosis
- Convulsions, seizures and sudden death from high doses (even one time)
- Permanent damage to blood vessels of heart and brain
- High blood pressure, leading to heart attacks, strokes, and death
- Liver, kidney and lung damage
- Destruction of tissues in the nose if sniffed
- Respiratory failure if smoked
- Infectious diseases and abscesses if injected
- Malnutrition, weight loss
- Severe tooth decay
- Auditory and tactile hallucinations
- Sexual problems, reproductive damage, and infertility (for both men and women)
- Disorientation, apathy, confused exhaustion
- Irritability and mood disturbances
- Increased frequency of risky behavior
- Delirium or psychosis
- Severe depression
- Tolerance and addiction (even after just one use)
Other Facts About Cocaine
- Cocaine overdose is the most common reason for drug-related visits to the emergency department in the U.S., causing 31% of such visits.
- Approximately 10% of people who begin using cocaine will immediately progress to serious, heavy use of the drug
- The United States consumes approximately 37% of the world’s cocaine, although they only make up less than 5% of the world’s population. Europe and South America round out the top three cocaine consumers
- Cocaine is the second most commonly used illegal drug in the United States after marijuana. However, cocaine causes three times more deaths than any other illegal drug.
- Coca leaves, the source of pure cocaine, have been chewed and ingested for thousands of years for their euphoric effect. The Inca were the first to use the leaves; they believed the coca plant was a gift from the gods.