Long term cocaine users and sometimes even the one time user of the drug may want to know if the cocaine will still be detectable in their system after they stop using the drug. Prisoners out on probation and parents granted conditional visitation may particularly be interested to know this. As an affected party, this will also tell you the best time to test for the drug.
Factors that affect cocaine detection
Whether or not there is evidence of cocaine use in your body will depend on several factors:
- Quantity used: For your body to get rid of cocaine or any other drug, it has to metabolize it much like it does with food. Just like you’re likely to stay full if you eat a lot of food, your body will take more time to metabolize a large amount of cocaine. Therefore the more you use the longer it will be in your system.
- Mixing with other drugs: When cocaine is mixed with other drugs or substances, they may react to produce other detectable by-products that may stay in the body longer. For example, mixing cocaine and alcohol produces a chemical called Cocaethylene in the liver. Not only is this chemical toxic but it’s also detectable much longer than cocaine.
- How often do you use: This is very similar to the issue of quantity used. The more often you use the drug the longer it takes your body to work through it all.
- How long have you used it for: If you have been using cocaine for a very long time, the cocaine may be detectable in your system for up to a year. Furthermore, long term usage of cocaine can cause other symptoms that can be easier to detect such as a damaged septum.
How is Cocaine Tested?
You may assume that because the effects of cocaine don’t last more than an hour that it can’t be detected for a very long time. However, it actually takes your body much longer to get through the cocaine and metabolizing cocaine leaves behind what are known as metabolites. Metabolites are the by-products of metabolizing cocaine and these can be detectable in your body much longer than the cocaine.
There are two main ways in which cocaine is usually tested and that is through urine samples or using hair samples. Testing of cocaine through urine samples is considered less intrusive. However, the window in which the cocaine can be detected is shorter. For a single use, this period is 3 to 5 days after using or 3 to 7 days if the dosage is high enough. However, for a frequent user, the cocaine may still be detectable in the urine after 14 days.
Testing for cocaine using hair samples is a bit more complicated but, if the dosage is high enough, the cocaine will be detectable for up to 90 days. In more frequent users, evidence of cocaine usage can still be found in the hair for up to a year. A small single dose may however go undetected in the hair.