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)
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.
Addiction Resource aims to provide only the most current, accurate information in regards to addiction and addiction treatment, which means we only reference the most credible sources available.
These include peer-reviewed journals, government entities and academic institutions, and leaders in addiction healthcare and advocacy. Learn more about how we safeguard our content by viewing our editorial policy.
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus—Drug Testing
- National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)—Drug Testing
- National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)—Cocaine DrugFacts
- U.S. Department of Energy: Office of Health, Safety, and Security—Drug Detection