The coca plant is something that has been used for thousands of years. It was first discovered by the natives of Peru but was later extracted for medicinal use by the Europeans. In the 19th century, the drug was used for its positive traits. It was used for anything from toothaches to anesthetics, but the addictive nature was realized shortly after its introduction into mainstream society. By the 1990s, the cocaine epidemic was eerily similar to the opioid crisis our country faces.
Cocaine, as you may have read with other drugs, will cause a spike in dopamine levels in our brain. Dopamine releases trigger the reward sensation in our limbic system when we experience positive stimulus. When you take a bite of your favorite meal, the brain releases dopamine and trains you to associate your favorite meal with positive feelings. It causes you to repeat the action. When dopamine is released, it is then recycled back into the neurotransmitter transporter that tells the brain to stop producing it.
Cocaine is a reuptake inhibitor, which means it will block the signal and cause the brain to continue its production of dopamine. The buildup causes the rush you experience when using cocaine. The more cocaine you consume, the less your brain produces dopamine. Once your brain relies on the drug, you will become chemically dependent.
After the last use of cocaine, the metabolites will show up on a blood or saliva test for up to two days. It may show up in a urine test for three days, and hair tests for months or even years. A heavy user will test positive on a urine test for up to two weeks. There are other factors, however, that influence how long it will stay on your body. It includes your weight, dose, metabolism, and how often you consume cocaine. If you drink while using cocaine, it may slow the elimination process.
What are the Immediate Effects of Cocaine on the Body?
Cocaine is a fast-acting and potent central nervous system stimulant. The drug produces an intense but short-lived high. It is associated with feelings of euphoria, but may only last for a few minutes to an hour, depending on the way it is ingested. The speed of cocaine’s onset, as well as duration of action, is determined by the method of use.
- Snorting: When cocaine is snorted, the effects can be felt in three to five minutes, and last anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour.
- Smoking: When cocaine is smoked, typically in rock form, also known as crack, the effects are felt in five to 10 seconds. They can be very intense and last up to 20 minutes.
- Intravenous: Injecting cocaine is a less common form of ingesting, but users describe the experience as quick and intense. The effects are felt in five to 10 seconds, and last up to 20 minutes.
- Oral ingestion: The effects are delayed when ingesting cocaine, and are typically felt in 10 to 30 minutes. The result is a longer-lasting effect, which can persist up to 90 minutes.
How is Cocaine Detected on Drug Tests?
Cocaine boasts a short half-life of one hour, which means it takes an hour for the body to eliminate half of the cocaine in your body. Long-term use, however, may cause longer elimination times, and it will allow certain testing to detect cocaine in your system for an extended period.
Despite the various testing agents, urine toxicology screening is the most common means of testing for cocaine. Anyone concerned about a positive cocaine test must understand the dangers of cocaine and stop using it. If you find that you are unable to stop using, you may have developed a cocaine use disorder. Those struggling with addiction must seek immediate help.
What Factors Affect How Long Cocaine Remains in the Body?
Many factors will dictate the duration of cocaine in your system. Some of these include:
- Urine pH levels
- When you used cocaine last
- The dosage you are accustomed to using
- Frequency of use
- Body mass
- Concentration of urine
- Kidney impairment
- Liver impairment
Short-Term Effects of Cocaine
Many people believe that cocaine helps them perform basic tasks with ease, while others experience the opposite effect. Large amounts of cocaine may lead to unpredictable or bizarre behavior. The most common short-term effects include:
- Mental alertness
- Hypersensitivity to sight, touch, and sound
Long-Term Effects of Cocaine
The longer someone uses the drug, the more at risk they are of developing long-term health effects. Cocaine is a dangerous drug, and someone using the drug should monitor their health to ensure they are not developing any of the below symptoms. These include:
- Increased risk of stroke or seizure
- Inflammation of the heart muscle
- Aortic ruptures
- Loss of sense of smell
- Weight loss
- Increased risk of Parkinson’s Disease
- Chronic or inflamed runny nose
- Risks of HIV and hepatitis
- Worsening of asthma