The Hair Test and Other Methods of Evaluating Coke Use

Made from the leaves of the South American coca plant, cocaine is a stimulant that is one of the most addictive substances in the world. Because of this, very few people can be “one time” or recreational users. And if you are looking for employment, or are in a job that has a Zero Tolerance Policy for drugs, the hair test can detect cocaine up to about 3 months after use.

The History of Cocaine

The use of cocaine dates back thousands of years. The indigenous people of South America chewed the leaves of the coca plant to boost their energy and feel the high. It was also a part of the Incan culture, used in social situations and religious ceremonies.

In the late 1800s, cocaine was starting to appear in European culture, used as a form of anesthetic as well as an appetite suppressant. Vin Mariani, a blend of Bordeaux wine and coca leaves, was touted as a health tonic and was popular amongst such historical figures such as Thomas Edison, Ulysses S. Grant, and even Pope Leo XIII.

And of course, there is the famous Coca-Cola, the heavenly elixir created around 1886 and originally made from a sugary syrup and cocaine.

How Does Cocaine Affect You?

When you ingest cocaine, it affects your brain by increasing your dopamine levels. The short-term effects of coke like extreme happiness, uber energy, and increased mental alertness make it somewhat understandable why people are drawn to it.

However, the negative effects of cocaine make it quite undesirable. Cocaine use can result in:

  • Constricted blood vessels
  • Nausea
  • Increased heart rate
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Tremors and twitches
  • Uncontrollable restlessness
  • Paranoia
  • Irritability

The effects of cocaine are also influenced by the means of consumption – snorting, rubbing on gums, injecting – and the potency of the coke itself.

Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms

While physical withdrawal symptoms are not as severe as those associated with opioids or alcohol, they can still be just as detrimental. The Australian Department of Health has designated its 3 phases:

  • Phase 1: “The crash” happens not long after you stop using, and is characterized by extreme unease, irritability, anxiety, exhaustion, and increased appetite. Many coke users experience phase 1 on an on-going basis.
  • Phase 2: This is the “withdrawal” phase when cocaine cravings increase, concentration is diminished, and recoverers may be irritable and lethargic.
  • Phase 3: Coined as “extinction,” ex-users may experience intermittent cravings, usually instigated by external influences.

How Long Does Coke Stay in Your System?

The “high” felt when using cocaine will only last about 5-30 minutes depending on how you ingest it, which is a contributing factor to the exponential increase of use over time.

How long cocaine can be detected is determined by the person’s usage as well as the means of testing used. How long does coke stay in your blood? Approximately 24 hours. A saliva test can detect it up to 1-2 days, a urine test up to 1-3 days, but the hair test, also known as the hair follicle test, can detect use up to 90 days after use.

Dedicated therapist looking after her patient by holding her hand in grey office

The Hair Test

Hair tests can be done just about anywhere, including on-site testing that can then be mailed into a lab for processing. In addition to cocaine, hair tests can also analyze for:

  • Methamphetamine
  • Amphetamine
  • Ecstasy
  • PCP
  • Marijuana
  • Opioids

Before you go shaving your head thinking you can get out of the hair test that way, keep in mind that the hair can come from anywhere on your body: armpits, groin, legs, nose, etc.

Hope and Happiness Are at Hand

If you are in the grips of cocaine use, abuse, and/or addiction, Steps Recovery Centers are here to help. Our founder, staff, and participating agencies can provide the help you need to kick the habit and take back your life. Let us help you take the next step. Contact us today.