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How long cocaine stays in your system is important to people required to take a drug test for work or the courts. Most employers and government agencies use cutoff levels established by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) to determine whether a potential employee is a cocaine user.
- The general answer of how long after using cocaine will a cocaine user pass a drug screen is not long at all. However, most drug screens check for the metabolizing agent the body uses to process cocaine.
Indirect Test – Looking For Benzoylecgonine
Benzoylecgonine (BE) and other cocaine metabolites can remain in the body for several weeks or even months, depending how much cocaine was used, the individual’s unique biological characteristics and type of drug screening employed.
- Cocaine’s main metabolite, benzoylecgonine, could be detectable in the urine for several weeks.
What a cocaine urine test often screens for is benzoylecgonine (BE), the primary metabolite of cocaine that remains in the body for an extended period. Other metabolites left behind by cocaine include ecgonine methyl ester (EME), m-hydroxycocaine, norcocaine and p-hydroxybenzoylecgonine (pOHBE).
Cocaine metabolites that are not eliminated through urine are stored in fat cells. People with body mass indexes indicating they are overweight or obese may retain higher amounts of metabolites for longer periods of time than those who are thinner.
Created in the liver as a byproduct of metabolized cocaine, benzoylecgonine is generated by enzymes called carboxylesterases and eventually excreted in the user’s urine. By themselves, cocaine alkaloids have extremely short half-lives that are undetectable within 24 to 48 hours.
How Long Does Cocaine Stay In Your System – Urine Tests
Metabolization of cocaine in the body occurs so quickly that urine tests taken six hours following ingestion of cocaine rarely shows evidence of use.
- Urine levels at or exceeding 300 nanograms of BE per milliliter of urine are considered positive
- However, levels of cocaine metabolites in urine can vary individually depending on if the test was done in the morning or later in the day
Samples taken from a person’s first urine void of the day almost always yield higher concentrations of cocaine metabolites than urine tested later in the day.
Cocaine comes in a wide variety of purities and forms, which influences the length of time it remains in the body. In addition, how much cocaine is used, how frequently it is used and how it is ingested (snorting, injecting, smoking, etc) directly determines how quickly cocaine is assimilated, metabolized and eliminated through urine.
- Regardless of how the cocaine was consumed, it can be detected in saliva and blood for up to 72 hours
- Testing of cocaine users’ sweat has found evidence of metabolites several weeks after last using cocaine
- However, even if a user has abstained from cocaine ingestion for two, three or four years, their hair follicles may still retain metabolite deposits.