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How Long Does Cocaine Last?

As one of the most addictive drugs on the market, cocaine poses a very real threat to the health and well-being of those who experiment with this drug. Unfortunately, its ability to produce a fast and intense high has led many people to overlook the potential dangers that come with cocaine use. One question many find themselves asking is, how long does cocaine last? Of course, there is no one answer to this question. 

The length of a cocaine high can vary based on several factors. If you or a loved one is struggling with cocaine abuse, it is important to understand exactly how this drug can affect you and how you can find help to quit this substance for good.

What Is Cocaine?

Cocaine, also known as coke, is a powerful and highly addictive stimulant drug. It is produced from coca leaves, which have been chewed by people in South America for thousands of years for their euphoric and stimulative properties.

In the 1900s, cocaine hydrochloride was discovered by purifying this chemical from the plant and was used as a main ingredient for tonics that could treat various different illnesses. For a long time, doctors used cocaine to treat pain during surgeries and for other purposes.

Now, however, research has revealed that this drug poses a high risk for substance abuse and addiction and has the capability to cause significant changes in a person’s brain structure and function with repeated use.

Today, cocaine may be recognized by many different nicknames such as snow, 8 ball, blow, crack, and several other slang terms. These nicknames have many different origins; an 8-ball of cocaine, for example, is an easier way of saying 3.5 grams of cocaine, which is equivalent to one-eighth of an ounce of cocaine.

A 2021 report conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) found that an estimated 4.8 million people had used cocaine within that year. Of these cases, around 1.4 million people met the qualifications for a substance use disorder.

Is Cocaine a Stimulant or Depressant?

Cocaine is a stimulant drug. Stimulants are drugs that increase activity in the central nervous system, speeding up messages between the brain and body. This can lead to a number of effects, including increased alertness, energy, and euphoria. Depressants, on the other hand, slow down the central nervous system, producing the opposite effect. 

Cocaine works by blocking the reuptake of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in reward and pleasure. This results in a buildup of dopamine in the brain, which produces the stimulant effects of cocaine.

How Is Cocaine Used?

Cocaine is most commonly abused in two different chemical forms: a water-soluble hydrochloride salt and a non-water-soluble cocaine base. The first method involves snorting or injecting the hydrochloride salt in a powder form.

The second involves smoking the non-water-soluble base in crystal form, also known as crack cocaine. This form of drug abuse involves heating and smoking crack after mixing it with baking soda. This process is also often referred to as freebasing cocaine, which is not entirely accurate.

The term freebase actually refers to a specific type of cocaine that has been de-alkalized by mixing it with a substance called ether. This process made it possible to smoke cocaine while increasing the drug’s potency. However, due to the highly flammable nature of ether, freebasing resulted in far too many fatalities. As a result, people began smoking crack cocaine, a less explosive alternative.

With that being said, all methods of cocaine abuse are dangerous and can lead to serious health problems, including heart attack, stroke, seizures, coma, addiction, overdose, and death. It’s important for those considering using this method to understand the risks associated with it and seek out help if needed.

How Long Does Cocaine Last?

While cocaine can produce an intense, euphoric high, the pleasurable side effects of this drug are often short-lived. For most people, a coke high will only last between 15-30 minutes and up to an hour in less common cases. 

The method of administration for this drug can also affect how long its effects last. Smoking or injecting cocaine, for example, will result in a faster high but with shorter-lasting effects. 

What many people do not expect from the drug is its unpleasant comedown phase. As the high wears off, a person may experience symptoms like headaches, irritability, and fatigue, which can be uncomfortable to deal with. In some cases, these side effects can last for days as the drug leaves their system.

Of course, the drug’s short-lived effects can cause people to want to continue taking extra or larger doses of cocaine in an attempt to prolong their high. This, however, is very dangerous and can result in unpleasant side effects, as well as an increased risk of overdose.

Signs and Symptoms of Cocaine Abuse

The symptoms of cocaine abuse and addiction can vary from one person to the next depending on the duration of use, frequency of use, and level of physical dependency. Some of the most common symptoms of cocaine abuse include:

Mental signs:

  • Manic energy
  • Euphoria
  • Talkativeness
  • Increased energy and alertness
  • Exaggerated sense of well-being
  • Marked mood swings (binge-crash cycle)
  • Depression and irritability (following a crash)
  • Poor concentration or memory
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations

Physical signs:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Increased libido
  • Restlessness 
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Damage to nasal passages
  • Loss of sense of smell
  • Chronic runny nose
  • Difficulties swallowing
  • Hoarseness
  • Rapid heart rate
  • High blood pressure

Behavioral signs:

  • Increase in risky behaviors
  • Changes in sleep habits
  • Decreased appetite
  • Social withdrawal
  • Changes in sleep habits
  • Poor concentration or memory
  • Cycling alterations in mood
  • Unexplained financial difficulties
  • Lying about drug use
  • Aggressive or hostile behavior

When trying to determine whether someone is addicted to cocaine, it’s important to be aware of the other signs and symptoms that could indicate a problem. 

Long-term use of cocaine can lead to more serious issues, such as:

  • New or worsened mental health issues
  • Increased risk for stroke or heart attack
  • Damage to the blood vessels of the heart and brain
  • Permanent damage to the nasal passages and lungs
  • Damage to internal organs, such as the liver, kidney, or reproductive system.

If you’re concerned that someone you know is abusing cocaine, it’s important to reach out and get them professional help. Entering treatment as soon as possible can reduce the risk of further health complications and increase the chances of long-term recovery.

While cocaine abuse can be a serious problem, it is treatable. Royal Life Centers can provide the support you or your loved one needs to get back to a healthier and sober lifestyle.

What Does Cocaine Do to the Brain?

Cocaine can cause serious harm to many organs in the body, including the heart, liver, and kidneys. However, perhaps the most at-risk part of the body when abusing this substance is the brain. 

Over time, repeated stimulant abuse can alter levels of the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate in the reward centers of the brain, leading to compulsive drug use, one of the main contributors to addiction. It can also affect brain pathways related to stress, triggering relapse when the affected individual is not using cocaine.

Abusing cocaine can also damage the brain’s blood vessels and nerves, leading to problems with the person’s memory, judgment, and coordination. If left unaddressed, this brain damage can become permanent. 

In addition to the various issues cocaine can cause for the brain, using this drug can increase the risk of heart disease, liver damage, kidney failure, respiratory issues, and mental health disorders. 

Can Cocaine Kill You?

One of the biggest concerns associated with cocaine abuse, whether this occurs one time or is a chronic behavior, is that it can kill you. In the United States, drug overdose deaths involving stimulants like cocaine rose from 12,122 in 2015 to 53,495 in 2021. With these numbers in mind, it is important to know how to recognize the signs of symptoms of cocaine addiction so that you can seek professional help as soon as possible.

What Are the Signs of Cocaine Overdose?

Stimulant overdoses can happen in a number of ways, but they usually occur when someone takes too high of a dose or combines cocaine with alcohol or other drugs. Mixing different substances together can increase the risk of overdose exponentially because each drug is acting on the body in different ways.

It is also important to be aware that snorting and smoking cocaine expose an individual to greater risks than if consumed orally. Snorting and smoking increases the intensity of the drug’s effects and can lead to an overdose. It is important to note that not all stimulant overdoses are fatal but all require medical attention. 

Serious signs and symptoms of a cocaine overdose can include:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Dizziness
  • Shaking
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Overheating
  • Excessive sweating
  • Rapid heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Fast breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Irritability
  • Confusion
  • Panic
  • Hallucination
  • Psychosis

While not all stimulant overdoses are deadly, the signs of a lethal overdose often look the same to the untrained eye. This makes it difficult to determine if an overdose will resolve itself or result in death. That being said, stimulant overdoses are considered potentially lethal when any of the following signs appear:

  • Extreme agitation
  • Rapidly increasing body temperature
  • Dangerously high blood pressure
  • Dangerously fast heart rate
  • Heart attack or stroke
  • Loss of consciousness or coma
  • Respiratory failure
  • Toxic delirium
  • Terminal seizures

If you suspect someone has overdosed on a stimulant, call 911 immediately. Additionally, if you or someone you know has overdosed on cocaine in the past, it is important to seek out help to regain control over your life.

Royal Life Centers at Sound Recovery can provide the support and resources you need to avoid overdoes and recover from cocaine addiction. Our compassionate, experienced staff understand the unique challenges that come with addiction to this powerful drug.

Cocaine Addiction Treatment at Royal Life Centers

There are many different types of addiction treatment available, and the best approach for you will depend on your individual needs and circumstances. At Royal Life Centers, we work with you to develop a treatment plan that is right for you. 

Royal Life Centers’ treatment programs and services include:

Everyone’s recovery process will look different depending on their specific addiction issues and treatment needs. For this reason, we provide individualized care so that our addiction treatment team can address every aspect of a guest’s substance abuse. 

If you are ready to start cocaine addiction treatment, we are here to help you every step of the way. Reach out now by calling 877-RECOVERY to learn more about our substance use treatment programs.

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