How Long Does Cocaine Stay In Your System? Side Effects, Withdrawal, & Timeline

Most people know that cocaine is a dangerous and highly addictive drug. However, that doesn’t stop some people from experimenting with cocaine which can lead to addiction, and other people may get addicted to other drugs contaminated with cocaine, being given cocaine without their knowledge, or as a result of desperation that they dealt with by taking the drug. 

Despite the best efforts of information campaigns and other efforts to make drugs like cocaine harder to get and less acceptable or interesting in communities, people still take and will continue to take cocaine. 

That means that people also need access to information about cocaine, how long it’s likely to have active effects, how long it stays in your system, and the potential side effects of taking cocaine. 

We’ll also talk about withdrawal, how long you can expect withdrawal symptoms to last, and your addiction treatment options if you want to overcome your addiction and discover life without cocaine. 

How Long Does Cocaine Stay In Your System? Side Effects Of Cocaine Use

Unfortunately, one of the problems with cocaine is that it’s a drug that affects different people differently. Metabolic differences between users can result in different durations and detection periods for the drug. 

Cocaine also typically has a relatively short-lived high, especially compared with other slower or longer-acting drugs. That can lead people to use more cocaine relatively quickly, increasing their risk of addiction and other health complications. 

How you use cocaine also matters for how long cocaine stays in your system, both as an active drug and detectable via drug tests. 

Snorting cocaine, the most common form of ingestion for powdered forms of the drug, can slow the onset of the high, taking between 10 and 15 minutes on average and leading to a longer high, up to 30 minutes. 

On the other hand, smoking, which is common for other forms of cocaine, generally creates a shorter high, lasting as little as 15 minutes in some cases. 

Cocaine also only has a half-life of about an hour in your body. So, while it persists longer than the high, the drug is quickly eliminated from your body. 

That means drug tests need to be administered relatively quickly to detect the drug, though it can be present in hair follicle tests for up to 3 months. 

Despite the short-lived high, cocaine does many different things in your body, which means that it has a lot of side effects and interactions. Here’s what you need to know. 

The Infamous Cocaine Crash – Emotional Side Effects Of Using Cocaine

One of the most problematic symptoms and side effects of cocaine use is that cocaine comes with a significant emotional crash after the high. 

This crash is dangerous not just because it drastically lowers your mood and makes it hard to function normally but because it can also be tempting to use more cocaine while you’re in the middle of the crash. More cocaine might alleviate your immediate symptoms, but you can only put off the crash for so long, and the longer you take cocaine, the worse the crash is likely to get. 

Symptoms of the cocaine crash, which starts almost immediately after you come down from your cocaine high in most cases, include: 

  • Agitation
  • Irritability
  • Aggression
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Panic
  • Suicidal Ideation
  • Thoughts of self-harm
  • Anger

Because these emotions often follow quickly after a euphoric high, they can lead to erratic emotions and people not knowing what to expect from you. 

The other problem is the intensity of the emotions. When you’re dealing with a cocaine high and crash, you might not even realize that you’re behaving erratically, much less that people are worried, shocked, or upset by your behavior. 

Physical Side Effects Of Cocaine Use

In addition to the mental and emotional side effects of cocaine use, physical side effects and symptoms can cause serious problems. Cocaine interacts with almost all of your body, including your organs and brain. 

For instance, it can cause an extremely high concentration of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin in your brain while preventing the reuptake (absorption) of those same neurotransmitters. That’s what causes the high. 

But the sensitization of those nerve and neural pathways for those pleasure-providing neurotransmitters is also responsible for the crash. Your body isn’t physically prepared for your brain not to have a high concentration of feel-good neurotransmitters. 

Because of the long-term effect on your brain, which may become dependent on a level of dopamine and serotonin that isn’t sustainable, you may also become physically predisposed to drug use and addiction, especially if you use cocaine as a teenager. 

Snorting cocaine is known to cause damage to your respiratory system and can make you more prone to issues like nose bleeds, sleep apnea, asthma, and sinus infections. 

Weight loss and cardiovascular issues are also common in chronic cocaine users, and your long-term risk of heart attacks and strokes increases with cocaine use. The risk increases when you binge on more cocaine at once, take cocaine more often, and the longer you use cocaine, even occasionally. 

What Does Withdrawal Look Like When Detoxing Cocaine From Your System?

Withdrawal from cocaine is ugly, but unlike most withdrawals, the biggest issues tend to be psychological instead of physical. 

Cocaine is, by its nature, a binge drug. It’s something you take a lot of in a relatively short period and isn’t typically sustainable for more than a few hours of a high. 

That means that most cocaine users experience withdrawal. The cocaine crash is the start of withdrawal, though symptoms can continue after the worst of the crash is over. 

Cold sweats, anxiety, irritability, not feeling good, and erratic behavior are all common symptoms of cocaine withdrawal. 

Truly detoxing takes longer than a cocaine crash, so here’s what you need to know. 

Detoxing Cocaine From Your System: How Long Does Withdrawal Last?

Unfortunately, since cocaine withdrawal might not have any physical symptoms, it’s hard to say how long true withdrawal lasts and how many of the lingering effects of cocaine, like depressed mood, craving cocaine and other drugs, and increased anxiety and agitation, are long-term side effects of cocaine’s impact on your body rather than withdrawal. 

That said, it’s common for people to experience low mood, psychological symptoms, and intense cravings for cocaine for months after they stop using the drug. 

That means that additional support is often necessary for people trying to stop taking cocaine. The drug has a long-term psychological effect that it’s hard to get out from under. People who stop cocaine need a strong safety net, people who are willing to help them through a difficult time and understand that they might not feel completely better for a long time. 

Support for several months is often required, and some people who have taken a lot of cocaine, taken it for a long time, or were taking it to cope with a pre-existing mental health disorder, may not ever feel 100%. Increased sadness and depression may be a permanent side effect of cocaine use, similar to other party drugs like MDMA. 

How To Safely Get Cocaine Out Of Your System: Addiction Treatment Options

Getting cocaine out of your system isn’t as hard as other drugs. The short half-life of the drug means that you only need to stop taking cocaine for a few hours for your body to eliminate all of the active drugs from your system. 

The trick is staying off cocaine, dealing with the long-term effects of cocaine use, and getting support for any underlying problems or vulnerabilities that led to the addiction in the first place. 

Even more than other drugs, recovering from cocaine use is about building healthy coping mechanisms, dealing with your mental health, actively learning to intervene in negative moods, and learning to live a healthy and happy life despite them. 

That means one of the best ways to recover from cocaine use is to go to a residential treatment center. 

Why? 

Residential treatment centers are well equipped to help you deal with the psychological fallout of cocaine use, including the initial crash after use and long-term low mood. 

Treatment centers will work with you to identify your risk factors and build an extensive set of tools to deal with cocaine cravings, low mood, and challenges in your life. You’ll have opportunities to learn and grow in a setting where recovery is your only focus and without the other life stresses outside the treatment center. 

If that sounds like what you’ve been looking for and a good way to recover from cocaine addiction, contact Epiphany Wellness center. We can discuss our programs, review your treatment options, or help you through the intake process if you’re ready to become a patient. 

Remember, no addiction needs to be permanent. You can overcome addiction, and you deserve a life that isn’t controlled by drug use. 

Don’t give up. Get the help you deserve. Contact Epiphany Wellness Center

Sources:

  1. T B. How Long Does Cocaine Stay in Urine, Blood, Saliva, and Hair? Verywell Mind. Published September 20, 2022. Accessed October 21, 2022. https://www.verywellmind.com/how-long-does-cocaine-stay-in-your-system-80231
  2. T B. Cocaine: Effects, Risks, and How to Get Help. Verywell Mind. Published June 20, 2021. Accessed October 21, 2022. https://www.verywellmind.com/cocaine-frequently-asked-questions-66710
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse. What are the long-term effects of cocaine use? National Institute on Drug Abuse. Published May 2016. Accessed October 21, 2022. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/what-are-long-term-effects-cocaine-use

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