Cocaine has been a part of American culture for more than a century.
While it’s not as common as marijuana, there is a very large chance that at some point in your life, you will come across the drug or someone who is taking the drug.
Maybe one time when you come across it, you give it a try.
But now you face the uncertainty of how long it’s going to take your body to work the drug through your system.
Is two weeks enough time to pass a drug test?
How much work is my body doing to break down the substance?
We will answer those questions and more here.
What Is Cocaine?
Cocaine is a stimulant that provides a person with increased energy, alertness, and awareness by exciting their central nervous system.
Usually, cocaine is recognized as a white, powdery substance. Because of its addictive nature and its ability to provide a person with a very rapid high that adds energy and more to their day, cocaine is a drug misused by people from all backgrounds and age groups.
While cocaine is most commonly known as a white powder that is snorted, it can also be consumed by injecting it or smoking. When injected, cocaine is dissolved into water and then injected into a vein. When smoked, cocaine does not come in a powdery form at all.
Most people don’t realize crack and cocaine are actually the same thing. So when cocaine is smoked, it is actually what most of us know as crack.
Crack is made by cooking cocaine powder with baking soda. It comes in a brown or off-white rock-like form. It is consumed by smoking it, usually in a small glass pipe, and it crackles when heated. It provides an even quicker and greater high than snorting cocaine, but the length of the high is shorter — 5 to 10 minutes versus 20 to 30 minutes for snorted cocaine.
History of Cocaine
Cocaine is derived from coca plant leaves. The coca plant is native to South America.
We understand today that cocaine has recorded use dating back to around 3000 B.C. At the time, people living in mountainous areas would chew on the leaves of the plant to increase their heart rate and breathing when needed in the thin air.
In the 19th century, Spanish forces would make Peruvian prisoners chew coca leaves to increase the prisoners’ energy when they were working in the silver mines.
Once the Peruvians were addicted, the Spanish forces held all power over them and would make them work for more leaves.
America’s history with cocaine comes with some interesting tidbits and a lot of unfortunate situations.
For instance, back in the late 1880s, Coca-Cola was created using coca leaves as an ingredient. Because of this, and the caffeine provided from kola nuts, Coca-Cola was wildly successful and popular. In around 1903, however, cocaine was removed from the formula.
In 1922, cocaine became illegal in the United States. In the century since then, cocaine and crack consumption has become widespread throughout the country and has led to many people becoming imprisoned or dying from their cocaine misuse and addiction.
How Many Americans Consume Cocaine?
For the past 20 years, the number of people consuming cocaine in the United States has remained steady. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is one of the foremost trusted sources for these statistics.
According to SAMHSA’s most recent findings, 40.6 million Americans over the age of 12 have tried cocaine at least once in their life. This includes 5.9 million Americans who had ingested cocaine within the past year and 2.2 million Americans who have ingested cocaine in the past month.
While crack is the same thing chemically, the two substances come in with a different set of statistics.
According to SAMHSA, 9.6 million Americans have tried crack at least one. At the time of the survey, 930,000 Americans had ingested crack cocaine at least once in the past year, and 473,000 Americans had smoked crack in the past month.
Side Effects of Cocaine
Cocaine is a stimulant. Stimulants increase the speed of things that occur within your body and mind. This means the substance will improve a person’s alertness, awareness, energy, talkativeness, and focus.
Not to be overlooked, cocaine also provides a person who consumes it with a sense of joy or euphoria.
These positive effects from the drug are quickly outweighed by the potential side effects.
Short-term side effects of cocaine consumption may include:
- Increased heart rate
- Increased breathing
- Paranoia (fear of someone or something)
- Vertigo (dizziness)
- Muscle twitches
Long-term effects are of course more dangerous in nature. As you continually put a substance in your body that is unnatural and causes damage, the chances for something to go wrong increase.
The physical long-term side effects may include:
- Lung damage
- Asthma and emphysema
- Loss of senses
- Increased risk of contracting diseases like HIV or Hepatitis C
- Panic attacks
- Heart disease
- Gastrointestinal paralysis (stomach can’t empty normally)
Side effects are more than physical, though. You can also suffer greatly in social and financial ways as well.
Addiction commonly causes splits in families that may never heal, especially without professional help. It also causes incredible financial strain, especially with cocaine because of its steep cost.
When Is Cocaine Undetectable?
Cocaine is a fast-acting substance that causes a quick high. As it is fast-acting, it is also relatively quick in leaving your body. Cocaine has a rather short half-life.
The half-life of a drug refers to the point at which the drug has halfway run its course of life in a body’s system. This is the measurement tool used to estimate the lifespan of a drug.
An example for this is to take a drug with a half-life of one hour. This means the drug’s original value, or effectiveness, will be cut in half in one hour of time. In the next hour, it will be cut in half again. So within two hours of the drug entering your body, it is 75% gone.
This process continues until the drug has left the body entirely. Relative to most other drugs, cocaine’s half-life is short. For a simple over-the-counter drug like Tylenol, there is a half-life of two to three hours.
Benadryl, a common antihistamine, has a half-life of anywhere between four and 10 hours.
Cocaine’s half-life is usually right around one hour. While cocaine is effective and efficient, the high from a dose of cocaine is rapid and tends to fade within a very quick period of time.
On top of having a short half-life, the body’s ability to metabolize substances plays a big role in the life of cocaine. Cocaine is broken down and processed (metabolized) by the liver and blood enzymes.
Typically cocaine is metabolized so quickly that it can be completely unchanged chemically in its entire cycle through the body.
When Can I Pass a Drug Test?
If you’re reading and wondering when you or your loved one will safely be able to pass a drug test without it being positive for cocaine, there are many factors to consider. The first and most important piece of the puzzle is the type of drug test taken.
Most commonly, a drug test will be checking urine. Cocaine is typically only detectable in urine for three to six hours after ingestion. This number comes from a recent study done by the University of Arizona.
You may also come across a saliva test, blood test, or the ultra-rare hair follicle test. It is important to understand these tests all have incredibly different detection windows.
In blood samples, cocaine is detectable for around 12 hours on average. In saliva swabs, cocaine is detectable for closer to 48 hours.
Again, hair follicle tests are rare, but if given one, it can detect cocaine for up to 90 days. There are many factors other than the test administered. The method of taking cocaine, believe it or not, is a very small factor in detection time.
For example, if someone is snorting cocaine and the same person is smoking crack, they are likely going to read as positive for the substance for the same amount of time.
Other factors that can cause a difference in detection time include:
- Dosage size
- Body mass
- Frequency of consumption
- Time of last consumption
- Urine concentration
- Kidney function
- Liver function
- Overall health
Detoxing from or quitting cocaine is not an easy task. In fact, it should never be done alone.
Cocaine withdrawal symptoms are intense, despite not being quite the same as for other substances like opioids or alcohol.
With substances like alcohol or opioids, you face many physical withdrawal symptoms like nausea and fever much more often than someone detoxing from stimulants would. When detoxing from stimulants, you will face more psychological symptoms than anything else.
While the symptoms are less harmful to your physical being, it is still important to have medical professionals monitoring you and your surroundings.
Possible symptoms of cocaine withdrawal include:
- Cravings for cocaine
- Nerve pain
- Muscle aches
- General discomfort
Cocaine withdrawal symptoms can begin as soon as three hours after the last dose for a person who commonly uses cocaine. After 24 hours, the general discomfort and other symptoms will begin to set in.
Withdrawal symptoms are different for everyone. You may experience something other than what is listed above. For that reason, medical detox is always recommended.
Detox and Treatment for Cocaine Addiction
Cocaine withdrawal can be uncomfortable. As stated before, withdrawal from a stimulant looks and feels different from withdrawal from a depressant like opioids or alcohol.
When facing the psychological symptoms of withdrawal from cocaine, it is best to have medical supervision nearby. When doing a medical detox, you are given the chance to have assistance with maintaining hydration, getting enough sleep, and possibly even receiving medications to help with symptoms.
While there aren’t any medications that have been approved for medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for cocaine addiction, as opposed to medications like Suboxone being available for treating opioid addiction, there are medications that will help in the process of reaching the therapy stage of treatment.
Antidepressants are commonly used in cocaine detox to help stabilize the mood of the person facing the withdrawal symptoms.
In treatment for cocaine use disorder, it is best to be given a mix of evidence-based treatments and alternative methods of therapy to reach recovery.
Today Is the Day to Change Your Life
At Shadow Mountain Recovery, we are fully committed to helping people with the best forms of treatment possible.
We offer evidence-based treatments alongside alternative therapy methods to help our clients reach long-term recovery at each of our three New Mexico locations. We have locations in Taos, Santa Fe, and Albuquerque.
If you have any questions about treatment for yourself or your loved one, call us today at 505-657-2117.