How Long Does Cocaine Last?


If you’re curious about cocaine, or concerned about someone’s cocaine use, you might start to have questions about how the drug functions, or how addiction develops. If you’re a cocaine user yourself perhaps you’re looking to educate yourself a little more on the substance. 

Learn more below, and find answers to your questions such as “How long does cocaine last”, “What are the risks of cocaine” and “How do I know if I’m addicted”.

How Long Do the Effects of Cocaine Last?

How long someone can feel the effects of cocaine largely depends on how they are taking their cocaine. In general, effects can be felt for between 30-60 minutes, however it is often much shorter than this. 

  • If someone is snorting cocaine, the drug is being delivered to their bloodstream through the thin blood vessels in the nose and lungs. This results in quite quick delivery, with effects being felt within the first few minutes and lasting between 15-30 minutes. 
  • If someone is smoking cocaine, particularly crack cocaine, the vaporising of the drug means a faster absorption by the blood vessels in the lungs. This leads to a much shorter, and more intense high, with effects peaking within the first few minutes and lasting between 5-10 minutes. 
  • If someone is injecting cocaine the drug is being delivered directly into their blood without the need for absorption at all. The effects are practically immediate, and can peak within seconds, leading to a high of between 5-10 minutes. 
  • If someone is swallowing cocaine, the drug needs to travel into the stomach and start to be digested to be absorbed by the lining of the stomach. This leads to a much slower onset of effects, within about 30 minutes, and lasting up to an hour. 

How Long Does Cocaine Stay in the System?

The longest period of detection of cocaine in the system is typically conducted with hair samples, which could show cocaine use up to 90 days or even longer after use, depending on the length of the hair. This is much longer than in blood or saliva where it is only detectable for between 1-2 days after use. 

It is important not to attempt to ‘flush out’ your system using excessive water intake, juices, ‘cleanses’, supplements, or ‘medicines’ that promise you a ‘clean’ test. These attempts to beat the system can run massive risks to your health, and result in cardiac events, gastrointestinal distress and potential kidney damage.

How Long Does Cocaine Stay In Urine?

Cocaine is typically detectable in urine for about 1-3 days after use. However, this can vary depending on the frequency and quantity of cocaine used, someone’s individual metabolism, and what type of drug test is being conducted. 

In some cases where people are using high amounts of cocaine for longer periods of time, cocaine could be detectable over a longer period of time, up to 5 days. Urine tests are one of the most common ways that people test for drugs, however it can also be tested for using blood, saliva, or hair tests.

What Are the Risks of Taking Cocaine?

Cocaine use, even casually, can have some pretty significant risks. It’s important to remember that illicit drug use can touch many aspects of a person’s life. 

Physical Health Risks

  • Cocaine places an enormous stress on the cardiovascular system, with increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, and irregular heart rhythms. This could lead to immediate risks like a heart attack or a stroke, as well as long term damage. 
  • Snorting cocaine can damage and deteriorate the nasal passages and create chronic nosebleeds, loss of smell, and respiratory issues. It can even degrade the cartilage between the nasal cavities beyond repair. For those smoking cocaine, it can cause severe lung damage and lead to chronic coughing. 
  • As explored in more detail below, cocaine functions primarily on the central nervous system. While this leads to extreme highs, it can also potentially lead to seizures, strokes, headaches and more neurological complications. Seizures and strokes in particular may cause permanent disability or death. 
  • Cocaine overdose is a severe risk, with symptoms including chest pain, high fever, confusion, seizures, and can be fatal.
  • Sharing drug paraphernalia, such as needles for example, can lead to the transmission of infectious diseases like HIV or hepatitis.
  • There is a high risk of consumption of contaminants. Cocaine is often mixed with various substances, including dangerous adulterants. Users may unknowingly consume harmful chemicals which may then cause their own problems, or have pharmacological interactions in the body. 

Mental Health Risks

  • Cocaine use, and misuse, is associated with a higher risk of both developing mental health problems, and making existing mental health problems worse. This includes anxiety, depression, mood swings, paranoia, hallucinations and more. 
  • Cocaine is highly addictive, and casual use can quickly escalate into either physical or psychological dependence. 
  • Prolonged use of cocaine can lead to a condition called cocaine-induced psychosis, characterised by extreme paranoia, delusions, and hallucinations.

Social Health Risks

  • There is a high risk of behavioural issues when taking cocaine. It’s use can lead to erratic and impulsive behaviour, which can result in accidents, injuries, or involvement in risky situations.
  • Cocaine use can also strain relationships with family, friends, and colleagues, leading to social isolation and conflicts.
  • There is also a high risk of legal complications and consequences from cocaine use.  Possession and use of cocaine are illegal in many places, leading to potential legal problems, including arrests, fines, and imprisonment.
  • The financial strain of using cocaine excessively can be significant for some. Cocaine use can be expensive, and individuals may resort to theft or other illegal activities to fund their addiction.

It is important to note that all of these risks are significantly higher if you’re taking cocaine simultaneously with other drugs. This is true even for prescription medications like Adderall and Lexapro

Cocaine Abuse and Addiction

Many people start using cocaine at parties, or in clubs, to get a boost to their night. However, the ecstatic sensations and wild nights can start to be a high that you’re chasing more and more. 

Cocaine works on the central nervous system of the brain as a stimulant by targeting the pleasure neurotransmitters. Cocaine blocks the reabsorption of dopamine by the brain, resulting in a flooding of dopamine into the synaptic gaps between neurons. Norepinephrine uptake is also inhibited, creating a similar ‘flooding’ effect that increases feelings of alertness and energy.

The effects of cocaine include increased energy, alertness, and confidence, as well as reduced fatigue and appetite. However, these effects are usually short-lived, leading to a “crash” characterised by feelings of depression, anxiety, and extreme fatigue when the drug wears off.

Cocaine’s influence on the brain’s reward system and the reinforcement of drug-seeking behaviours are key factors in its high addiction potential. Chronic use can lead to significant changes in brain function and structure, contributing to long-lasting cognitive and emotional impairments.

If you’re wondering if your cocaine use, or the cocaine use of someone you love, is starting to get out of hand, some good questions to ask yourself can be: 

  1. Do you take more cocaine, or for a longer time, than you intend to?
  2. Have you made attempts to quit, or cut down before, but haven’t been successful?
  3. Do you spend an inordinate amount of time obtaining, using, or recovering from cocaine use?
  4. Do you ever experience an urge or craving to use?
  5. Have you started failing to meet your work, family, or school obligations because of your cocaine use?
  6. Do you keep using cocaine despite people expressing their concern, or it causing problems in your life?
  7. Have you started to withdraw, and stopping spending time with loved ones or lost interest in previous hobbies?
  8. Do you use cocaine in situations where it would be dangerous to do so, physically?
  9. Do you keep using cocaine even though you see it causing physical or psychological problems? 
  10. Do you need to take increasing amounts of cocaine to get the same ‘high’ that you’re used to?
  11. Do you ever experience withdrawal symptoms after using cocaine?

It’s important to note that you do not necessarily need to identify as having an addiction, or meet the criteria above to have a problematic relationship with cocaine. It’s possible that you may want to reduce or stop your use because of how it affects you and your life without being a “cocaine addict”.

If you’d like more information on how to help someone with a cocaine addiction, or you’re worried that their use might be getting out of control, Clinic Les Alpes has an excellent blog detailing everything you need to know here

If You Are Addicted to Cocaine, Clinic Les Alpes Can Help

Clinic Les Alpes is a world-leader in addiction treatment and rehabilitation. If you have a friend or family member suffering from cocaine addiction, or other addictions, we can help. 

Located in the hills by Lake Geneva, people looking to start their recovery journey can do so in complete privacy, security, and comfort. Offering a luxury experience and 24/7 access to medical staff, family and friends can rest assured that their loved ones are safe in their detox and treatment. 

Under the guidance of dedicated personal therapists, individuals collaborate closely with our comprehensive interdisciplinary team to devise a personalised treatment plan that supports their participation in our Minnesota Model-based program. Our team utilises a wide range of evidence-based treatments and approaches to empower patients in their recovery journey, encompassing therapeutic interventions, psychoeducational sessions, and complementary therapies. These methods address the comprehensive spectrum of physical and psychological aspects associated with addiction. 

If you would like more information, please do not hesitate to contact us. Our team is available to answer any questions about referrals, our treatments, and facilities. 


While cocaine use can start out innocently enough, it’s an extremely powerful drug, and the risks it poses to its users should not be overlooked. Obtaining more knowledge is only the beginning; taking action to protect yourself and others is difficult, but with support it is not impossible. 

For those who find themselves asking “How long does cocaine last in the system” or “How long does cocaine keep you high for”, it may be that you would benefit from seeking out more support from a loved one or a professional.

Clinically Reviewed By

Brittany Hunt

Brittany Hunt is an internationally experienced clinician, specialised in treating addictions and co-occurring disorders. Having worked in the public and private sector, she utilises holistic and evidence-based approaches designed to empower the patients in their recovery journeys. A graduate of The University of Auckland, she has a Bachelor of Health Sciences majoring in Mental Health and Addictions, a diploma in Psychology and Counselling and a Post-Graduate degree in Health Sciences, majoring in Addictions. She is a fully registered practitioner under the Drug and Alcohol Association of Aotearoa New Zealand (DAPAANZ).

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