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Known as coke or crack, cocaine is processed from the leaves of the coca plant. It’s usually in the form of a white powder that is often mixed with a variety of other white powders.

It can be ingested in multiple ways – snorting, injecting, or smoking. Cocaine creates a strong wakefulness feeling and is an appetite suppressant. Cocaine can be detected by a drug test for up to 4 days in urine. You can test for cocaine in a 5 or 10 panel drug test

What Is Its Origin?

Cocaine is derived from coca leaves grown in Bolivia, Peru, and Colombia. The cocaine manufacturing process takes place in remote jungle labs where the raw product undergoes a series of chemical transformations. Colombia produces about 90 percent of the cocaine powder reaching the United States. Most of the cocaine entering the United States comes through Mexico.
Snorted in the form of powder or smoked in the form of crack, cocaine has an immediate effect on the human nervous system and makes its users crave more and more for its euphoric effect.

What is Cocaine?

Cocaine is an intense, euphoria-producing stimulant drug with strong addictive potential. Cocaine is an extract of coca leaves and is highly addictive. Originally used by doctors to treat pain during medical procedures, its misuse today is rampant.

Common street names 
•Coca, Coke, Crack, Flake, Snow, and Soda Cot

Recognizing Cocaine Use

The following patterns can be observed in cocaine users:

  • Pupil dilation

  • Disturbed sleep patterns

  • Intense depression

  • Damage of critical organs such as kidney and liver

  • A surge in blood pressure and massive heart attack

How cocaine affects the human body

Physiological effects of cocaine include increased blood pressure and heart rate, dilated pupils, insomnia, and loss of appetite. The widespread abuse of highly pure street cocaine has led to many severe adverse health consequences including cardiac arrhythmias, ischemic heart conditions, sudden cardiac arrest, convulsions, strokes, and death. In some users, the long-term use of inhaled cocaine has led to a unique respiratory syndrome, and chronic snorting of cocaine has led to the erosion of the upper nasal cavity.

Soon after consumption, cocaine provides an instant surge in energy levels. It makes people hyperactive and boosts sexual urges.. The effects are temporary though, and after a few minutes, the user experiences an energy crash.

What does it look like?

Cocaine is usually recognized as a white, crystalline powder. Often diluted (“cut”) with a variety of substances (like sugar and local anesthetics) Cocaine is “cut” to stretch the amount of the product and increase profits for dealers. In contrast, crack cocaine base looks like small, irregularly shaped chunks (or “rocks”) of a whitish solid.


Tolerance to cocaine’s effects develops rapidly, causing users to take higher and higher doses. Taking high doses of cocaine or prolonged use, such as binging, usually causes paranoia. The crash that follows euphoria is characterized by mental and physical exhaustion, sleep, and depression lasting several days. Following the crash, users experience a craving to use cocaine again.

How Do You Conduct a Cocaine Drug Test?

Unless specifically excluded cocaine drug testing is included in just about every drug test panel.

For occasional users,  cocaine remains detectable in the urine from 2-3 hours to 2-3 days. 

The amount of detectable cocaine also depends on many factors such as the weight, age, metabolic activity, regularity of cocaine consumption and the test method adopted for detecting cocaine.

Cocaine often tests positive in hair test, which can detect up to 90 days of history.

Cocaine can be detected in blood, hair, urine and oral fluid. Most employee drug testing is urine, but oral fluid and hair drug testing are on the rise. 

Cocaine is highly addictive and can change human behavior very intensely. Soon after consumption, the user experiences an energy surge and can appear edgy or high strung. It would not be surprising for a cocaine user to pick fights  or be aggressive with co-workers.

The judgment and thinking of cocaine users is fuzzy and they cannot distinguish between right and the wrong. They become anxious, paranoid and may not show up for work.

To maintaing a safe, drug-free workplace, cocaine drug testing must be included with any drug testing program.

Oral fluid samples: Generally, saliva samples are collected through mouth swabs and are tested for the presence of cocaine. This is the best-suited method for detecting recent use of cocaine.

Urine samples: Urine testing can detect the presence of cocaine and other drugs too. Urine is the most common sample used for drug tests.

Hair samples: Best suited for detecting the long term usage of cocaine, this method is costlier, however, non-invasive. The drawback of this test is that it cannot detect the usage of cocaine in the last 5 days.

An employer may test an employee for cocaine, under any of the following circumstances:

Pre-employment drug test:  Passing a drug test is a requirement to begin work.

Random drug test: Statistically random drug testing is the most effective deterrent to drug use in the workplace.

Post-accident drug test: A failed drug test for cocaine following a workplace accident can invalidate a workers comp claim.

Reasonable Suspicion: If the employee has been behaving abnormally and displaying symptoms of cocaine usage, employers can require a cocaine drug test. 

Consequences for any failed drug test are described in the company’s substance abuse policy.

Cocaine drug testing is best done through accredited and licensed laboratories that are experts in both onsite and laboratory drug testing.