It can be a little counterintuitive that knowing more about drugs can help keep you safer from them and make addiction less likely, but it’s true. The more you understand how a drug works and its potential risks, the easier it will be to make informed choices that help you avoid addiction.
Of course, if you are dealing with an addiction, that doesn’t have to be the end of the story. If you know what to do, there are many ways to get help with a coke addiction or an addiction to any drug.
With that in mind, let’s talk about how long coke stays in your system, the risks of using coke or cocaine, and what you can do if you’re already dealing with an addiction to this dangerous drug.
This guide is also helpful if you’re trying to learn more about coke because you are worried about a loved one or someone close to you who might be using the drug. So, whether you’re using, considering using, or just worried about someone else, you’re in the right place.
What Is Coke?
You need to know a little more about the drug to understand how coke works in your body and how long coke stays in your system.
First, coke is derived from naturally occurring chemicals in a tree related to coffee. The coca tree, native to various regions in South America, has been used as a stimulant drug for millennia and is still legal in some countries and locations in its natural form.
While coke might come from a natural substance, the most commonly abused form of the drug isn’t the same as the coca leaves that humans have used for a long time. Coke is a much more refined and potent drug, which also means that the risks and potentially dangerous consequences of using coca leaves have been concentrated and increased along with the side effects that make people take the drug.
It’s important to remember that while coke and similar derivatives of the coca tree might have been used for a long time, that doesn’t mean that using this drug was ever safe. Instead, our standards for what is and isn’t safe have changed with time as people have started to value human life more highly throughout history.
What was considered safe once upon a time might have always been deadly dangerous, but people were willing to accept the risks. Today, we have better alternatives to drugs like coke, and the benefits don’t seem as important, which is why the drug is illegal in most cases. There aren’t enough benefits to justify the serious risks, including the risk of addiction.
How Long Does Coke Stay In Your System?
When you’re talking about how long coke can stay in your system, there are a few different things that it can be talking about. The first is how long a cocaine high can last, the second is how long cocaine is detectible, and the third is how long your body is affected by coke when you use it.
Like many drugs, the answers to those three questions differ, so we will tackle them individually.
How Long Does A Cocaine High Last?
Cocaine is a relatively short-lived drug, which is part of why users often binge on the drug, taking lots of coke in a relatively short period instead of trying to stay high all the time. That can mean that coke addicts act a little differently than other kinds of drug addicts, and there may be periods when someone taking coke or other forms of cocaine seems perfectly normal.
In general, a cocaine high will only last from 15-30 minutes, though how you take the drug does have a big impact on how long you will be high on it and how long it takes for the drug to take effect.
People who smoke cocaine may have a slight delay between smoking and feeling the effects and may have a slightly longer duration because some of the smoke from the drug will persist in their lungs and continue to be absorbed over the next several breaths instead of entering the bloodstream all at once.
On the other hand, people who snort coke will generally have a shorter but more intense high because the drug is absorbed more quickly.
There are also other ways of using cocaine, but smoking and snorting are the most common for this drug. Even eating coke, which generally produces the longest-lasting high, won’t get users more than about 30 minutes before they need to take more, and it can take a lot longer for the effects of the drug to kick in, which makes that method less popular.
Why does all of this matter? Because the short duration of a cocaine high highlights how little payoff cocaine users are getting for the potential risks they are taking when they use the drug.
How Long Is Cocaine Detectible?
Like most drugs, cocaine is detectable 4-7 days after use with conventional drug tests. However, some tests are less accurate, so they won’t detect cocaine unless used immediately after taking the drug. On the other hand, other less common tests may be able to detect cocaine use for up to 3 months after you stop using the drug.
However, the side effects of using cocaine can last much longer than the drug is detectable in your system, and some of those side effects may be permanent.
How Long Is Your Body Affected By Cocaine Use?
This is the big one. Coke highs are very short, but repeated use of cocaine can cause long-term changes in your brain that don’t necessarily go away just because you stop using the drug. You can change how your brain thinks and functions by using cocaine, and the more you use and the longer you use it, the more likely it is that you will have neuroadaptations that change how your brain functions because of cocaine.
Those neuroadaptations may make you more likely to have drug-seeking behavior in the future. They can change how your brain deals with stress and make it harder for your brain to produce enough of the neurotransmitters involved in happiness and relaxation without using a drug.
That means that cocaine users may be at higher risk of all different kinds of addiction, even after they stop using cocaine, and that they may also be at higher risk of depression and other mental health disorders as a result of their drug use.
Those risks can go down over time, and there may be ways to help reverse your brain’s neuroadaptations to cocaine, but that doesn’t mean your brain will go back to how it was before you started using drugs.
Learn To Spot Coke Addiction
Having an addiction might seem obvious from the outside, at least when you haven’t had one or don’t realize you have one, but they can be a lot more difficult to spot than you might expect.
A lot of people think that they have their use of a drug or alcohol under control, in part because once you have an addiction, that addiction takes up so much of your mental capacity that it can be hard to see past your need for a drug to see all the things your use of that drug is costing you.
Cocaine addiction is also difficult to spot because cocaine is a binge drug. You might think you can’t have an addiction because you don’t have to use cocaine every day or because you don’t use cocaine every day, even if you want to.
The problem is that cocaine is a drug you can still be addicted to, even if you have periods of sobriety between uses.
Signs of cocaine addiction can include being distracted by the thought of using cocaine, feeling like you need to use cocaine before high-stress situations, presentations, or other times when you want an energy or performance boost. You might feel like you need to hide your cocaine use or notice new strain in relationships that used to be much easier.
All of these signs and symptoms can indicate a problem, even if you don’t feel like you have one.
You may also have noticed negative side effects of cocaine use, like:
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Lower sleep quality
- Reduced sex drive
- Feeling tired when you aren’t on cocaine
- Feelings of sadness or depression, especially when coming down off a cocaine high
- Not enjoying the things you used to
- Many more
If those side effects didn’t make you stop using cocaine, it might be time to worry about addiction.
Remember, like other drugs, you can become addicted to cocaine in as little as a single use. The symptoms might not feel or look the same as other drugs, but cocaine is potently addictive. So don’t underestimate the hold this drug can have over you if you try it.
How To Get Help Overcoming Coke Addiction
The one bit of good news when it comes to coke use is that you can stop using coke and overcome your addiction. Additionally, new and better therapies help you overcome addiction and the side effects and consequences of having an addiction.
The trick is getting the kind of high-quality care you need to recover and get back to life without addiction, with as few consequences as possible.
That’s where Heights Treatment comes in. Our qualified team can help you overcome addiction. You have to be ready to take the next steps and enroll in a treatment program to help you stop taking coke and reclaim your life.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. What is Cocaine? National Institute on Drug Abuse. Published May 2016. Accessed January 13, 2023. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/what-cocaine
- Santos-Longhurst A. How Long Does a Cocaine High Last? What to Expect. Healthline. Published July 14, 2022. Accessed January 13, 2023. https://www.healthline.com/health/how-long-does-cocaine-high-last
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. What are some ways that cocaine changes the brain? National Institute on Drug Abuse. Published May 2016. Accessed January 13, 2023. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/what-are-some-ways-cocaine-changes-brain
- Yetman D. Help for Depression: Treatment Options and Where to Find Help. Published September 14, 2022. Accessed January 13, 2023. https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/help-for-depression#bottom-line
Last medically reviewed January 12, 2023