How Long Does Crack Cocaine Stay in Your System?

crack cocaine addictionCrack, a solidified form of cocaine, is one of the most powerful stimulants available. Users who smoke or inject the drug typically feel a rush of exhilaration, confidence, and euphoria within seconds.

However, the effects of the drug wear off very quickly, leaving the user in a state of mental and physical depression. In the aftermath of a crack high, the user will feel an overwhelming craving to use more of the drug in order to experience that high again.

The Timeline of a Crack High

The brain and body respond almost instantly to the effects of crack cocaine, a central nervous system stimulant. When smoking crack — the most common method of abusing this drug — the user will typically go through the following stages:

  • The initial use: Chunks of crack cocaine are smoked through a pipe or other device, a method known in street slang as “freebasing.” After the vapors from a chunk of crack are inhaled into the lungs, the drug takes effect on the brain within a matter of seconds.
  • The brain’s response: The active substances in crack interfere with the brain’s production and reuptake of the chemicals that affect pleasure, mood, energy, and movement. These chemicals, or neurotransmitters, include dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine.
  • The high: Elevated levels of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin cause a rush of excitement and euphoria, along with feelings of power and self-confidence. Negative psychological responses may include anger, irritability, hostility, aggression, or paranoia. The overstimulation of the central nervous system causes physical responses like the dilation of the pupils, elevation of the heart rate and blood pressure, acceleration of breathing, sweating, tremors, excitability, and restlessness. According to the Center for Substance Abuse Research, a crack high will generally last for 5-15 minutes.
  • The crash: As brain chemicals return to their normal level, the user will experience a “crash,” or “comedown,” as rapidly as the high began. Withdrawal symptoms like depression, agitation, fatigue, anxiety, and unjustified suspicion begin almost as soon as the high subsides, notes the National Library of Medicine. This crash is accompanied by strong cravings for more of the drug, which is why many users engage in extended crack binges that may last for hours, days, or even longer.

The effects of crack and the duration of the body’s response will depend on the potency of the drug, the amount of crack consumed, the user’s previous experience with substance abuse, the user’s general health, and other factors.

Detecting Crack in the Body

Cocaine has been classified as a Schedule II controlled substance by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, which means that it has a high potential for abuse, dependence, and addiction. After you use crack, the drug can be detected in the body with a blood test for approximately 12 hours, and the residual byproducts of cocaine can be detected in urine for 48-72 hours. In frequent cocaine users, urine tests may show traces of crack in the system for even longer — possibly up to two weeks. In human hair, however, traces of crack can be detected for 90 days or longer.

Getting Help for Crack Abuse

physical effects of drug addictionBecause of the powerful effects of cocaine and the intense high that the drug produces, many recreational crack users have found themselves trapped in cycle of abuse and addiction. Even for users who really want to quit, the depression, fatigue, anxiety, and cravings that follow a crack high can drive them back to the drug.

Axis provides innovative, personally tailored recovery services for men and women seeking freedom from cocaine addiction. With intensive detox services, residential treatment programs, outpatient care, and sober living facilities, Axis provides a full spectrum of therapeutic treatment options for clients struggling with substance abuse. If you’re ready to reach out for help for yourself or someone you care about, call our toll-free number today.