Cocaine Drug Information


cocaine_structureocaine is a central nervous system stimulant derived from the leaves of the coca plant. Cocaine also acts as a local anesthetic. The abused forms of the drug are the hydrochloride salt or the free base. Cocaine can be
snorted, injected, or smoked.


After smoking, cocaine is rapidly absorbed with peak plasma concentrations occurring at about 5 minutes, versus 30-40 minutes following intranasal ingestion. Cocaine is extensively metabolized by the liver and blood enzymes with approximately one percent of the dose excreted in the urine unchanged. The major metabolite found in the urine is benzoylecgonine followed by ecgonine methyl ester. Depending upon the dosage, frequency of use, and individual metabolism, benzoylecgonine can remain detectable in the urine for as long as 96 hours.


Cocaine produces a short-lived, intense high and is extremely addictive. With infrequent use, a person may experience euphoria, lowered anxiety, talkativeness, decreased appetite, increased sexual arousal, increased alertness, decreased fatigue, and increased heart rate and blood pressure.

With prolonged abuse, an individual may experience a set of secondary effects that can include increased anxiety, irritability, aggressiveness, and paranoia. Physiological effects can include dilated pupils, dry mouth, increased body temperature, and tachycardia. In overdose situations, a person my experience hallucinations, coma or death. Crash symptoms typically follow binge abuse of cocaine. This phase is marked by extreme fatigue, depression, mental exhaustion and prolonged periods of sleep.

Laboratory drug testing: Methods of Analysis

Enzyme immunoassay (EIA) is a widely used screening method designed to detect benzoylecgonine and to a lesser extent, cocaine and ecgonine methyl ester. Commonly used confirmation methods include gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). These methods offer excellent sensitivity and specificity for confirmation of positive screens.

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Drug information data is not definitive and should be used for reference guidelines only.

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