How Long Does Cocaine Stay In Your Hair?

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D on February 12, 2021

Cocaine can be detected through hair follicle drug testing. Hair drug screens can detect cocaine use for up to 90 days following your last use. Illicit substance use can be a sign of drug addiction, which may require substance abuse treatment to overcome.

Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D on February 12, 2021
Cocaine Hair Test Detection Time - How Long Can Cocaine Be Detected In You Hair?

Hair follicle tests can be conducted in a hospital or outpatient lab setting. These tests are less common than urine tests for drug use, but can detect cocaine use after a longer period of time has passed.

Hair follicle samples can contain traces of drugs for up to 90 days after drug use.

Cocaine Detection Time In Hair

The drug detection time refers to the amount of time a drug screening can show if a person has used drugs like cocaine.

Drug screenings that test hair samples can detect cocaine use up to three months, or 90 days, after someone’s last use of cocaine.

How Do Drug Screenings Detect Cocaine In Hair?

Cocaine can have powerful but short-lived effects. It has a short half-life, which means it is rapidly metabolized in the body. Cocaine is metabolized by enzymes in the liver and blood.

Drug screenings can detect cocaine use through the presence of benzoylecgonine, which is the main metabolite of cocaine. Cocaine metabolites are detectable in the hair, urine, saliva, and blood for longer than cocaine.

Washing your hair, dying your hair, or using styling products will not affect how long cocaine stays in your system. If someone does not have hair on their head, body hair may be collected for a drug screening.

Factors That Can Affect Drug Detection Times

There is a wide range of biological, genetic, and personal factors that can influence how long cocaine is detectable in your system.

These factors include:

  • how much cocaine is used
  • how often cocaine is used
  • history of drug abuse
  • hydration level
  • body composition (body fat, weight, height)
  • genetics
  • age

Being dependent or addicted to cocaine can influence the timeframe for drug detection. This is due to how the body adapts to the use of drugs like cocaine over time, thereby affecting drug metabolism.

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Why Are Drug Screens Used?

Drug screenings can be ordered by healthcare providers, courts, and employers as a condition of employment during the hiring process or after being hired for a job. Drug tests may be supervised.

Drug tests can be used for the following:

  • pre-employment screening
  • drug-free workplace programs
  • monitoring prescription opioid use
  • sports organizations (e.g. screening for steroid use among athletes)
  • criminal investigations and forensic purposes
  • court-mandated drug testing

Drug tests are sometimes ordered if someone is showing signs or symptoms of illicit drug use. Cocaine can cause a wide range of physical and psychological symptoms that can indicate substance abuse and addiction.

Cocaine Use: Signs And Symptoms

A doctor may order a drug screen if a patient with or without a history of substance abuse is showing signs of cocaine use.

Common signs of cocaine use include:

  • track marks (from injection)
  • runny nose
  • talking very fast
  • mood swings
  • fast heart rate
  • irregular heartbeat
  • high blood pressure
  • dramatic weight loss
  • muscle twitches and tremors
  • psychosis (hallucinations, delusions, or paranoia)
  • increased body temperature
  • decreased interest in activities previously enjoyed

Although the effects of cocaine can wear off quickly, these short-term side effects can be followed by symptoms of a ‘crash’ and withdrawal symptoms. Chronic cocaine abuse can also cause severe consequences to physical health and mental health.

Find Treatment For Cocaine Abuse And Addiction

Treatment centers across the country offer treatment programs for cocaine addiction. Cocaine addiction can be treated through detox, inpatient rehab, and outpatient counseling.

Recovery from cocaine addiction is possible. Call our helpline today to learn more about cocaine treatment and how to find addiction treatment for yourself or a loved one.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

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