How Long Does Crack Stay In Your System?

A person holding a small baggies of powder crack cocaine

Crack or “freebase cocaine” is a highly potent form of smokable cocaine with a significant risk for addiction. Smoking crack quickly produces more intense euphoric effects than using the powder form of cocaine. However, the euphoric effects of crack also vanish sooner than powder cocaine. The drug may still be detectable in the body even after the effects of crack disappear.

What Is Crack?

Crack is a form of cocaine made by dissolving powdered cocaine with a mixture of water and ammonia or baking soda. The mixture is boiled to form a solid substance that is dried and broken into pieces, otherwise known as rocks. Crack rocks can be white or off-white and have different shapes and sizes. Crack rocks are smoked, and the drug enters the body through the lungs producing an immediate effect.

How Does Crack Make You Feel?

Smoking crack cocaine causes an almost instant high. Once the drug reaches the brain, people who smoke crack often feel:

  • Alert
  • Euphoric (extremely happy)
  • Energetic
  • Talkative

How Long Does Crack Last?

When smoked, crack reaches the brain quickly (within 19 seconds). The euphoric effects of crack are felt in about two minutes and are typically gone in 10–20 minutes. Repeat doses are needed to continue to feel the effects of crack, which can increase the risk of addiction. After the short rush, people who smoke crack often experience intense cravings, which can lead to drug-seeking behavior.

Crack Side Effects

Along with its euphoric effects, crack causes several side effects that can last beyond the initial high. Psychological side effects, such as cravings, can continue even after the drug has left a person’s system. In addition to the cravings for crack, there are other physical and psychological side effects associated with crack use. A person who smokes crack may experience some of these side effects

  • Dilated pupils
  • Dizziness
  • Increased temperature
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Muscle twitches
  • Paranoia
  • Seizures
  • Sudden death
  • Trouble breathing 

Crack Half-life

Crack’s half-life is similar to cocaine’s half-life, or about 1.5 hours, meaning it will be detectable for several hours. However, crack has two primary metabolic byproducts: 

  • Benzoylecgonine: is a byproduct of cocaine metabolism and has a six-hour half-life. 
  • Methylecgonidine: is unique to crack and has a half-life in blood of 18–21 minutes. Methylecgonidine is further processed into ecgonidine, which has a half-life of about two hours and can be detected for 10 hours after light use. With heavy use, ecgonidine may be detected for 48 hours or more. Some data suggest routine heavy use can increase these byproduct detection windows. In this case, ecgonidine may be detectable for weeks.

How Long Does Crack Cocaine Stay in the System?

Crack is generally cleared from the system within a few days after use, but heavy or prolonged use results in longer detection windows. In extreme cases, crack drug tests can detect metabolites long after the last use. 

How Long Does Crack Stay In Urine?

Light or moderate use of crack will cause positive urine tests for benzoylecgonine, a metabolite of crack, for up to two days. Chronic, heavy use of crack may substantially extend this time window. 

How Long Does Crack Stay In Blood?

Blood tests may be positive for about one day after using crack, but this time will extend if someone has used crack heavily or for a long time.

How Long Does Crack Stay In Saliva?

Saliva is essentially filtered blood without the red blood cells, so its detection window is similar to blood. Saliva drug tests can detect crack or its metabolites for 24–48 hours. Repeat use of crack may increase the drug’s detection time in saliva. 

How Long Does Crack Stay In Your Hair?

Hair can deliver a positive crack test for 90 or more days after last use. 

Factors Affecting How Long Crack Stays in Your System

Factors that affect how long crack stays in the system include:

  • Liver function: Because the liver metabolizes crack, a poorly functioning liver will result in a buildup of crack or its byproduct, methylecgonidine.
  • Length of use: Prolonged crack use will result in a higher concentration of crack that will take longer to metabolize.
  • Amount used: The more crack is smoked, the longer it will remain in the system.
  • Food and water intake: A healthy diet and lots of water may promote the clearance of crack from the system.
  • Metabolism: Individuals with faster metabolisms will clear crack sooner than others. Similarly, people with high-fat content will have positive drug tests longer than people with low-fat content.

What Can Cause a False Positive for Crack? 

Cocaine and crack drug tests are generally very reliable, but rare exceptions occur. Most routine drug tests only evaluate methylecgonidine or ecgonidine, but some tests measure both. Measuring both metabolic byproducts can minimize the risk of a false positive. 

How Is Crack Metabolized in the Body?

Crack is taken up by alveoli when inhaled into the lungs. Alveoli are normally responsible for expelling carbon dioxide and replacing it with oxygen. The lungs have an incredibly large surface area with a vast network of tiny blood vessels called capillaries. The capillaries carry oxygen (and crack) into blood vessels that travel to the heart. 

From there, crack travels to every organ in the body, including the brain. Crack profoundly affects dopamine in the brain and the “reward pathway,” causing its addictive nature. Crack travels throughout the body in seconds, which is why crack has a rapid onset of action. 

Crack is metabolized into benzoylecgonine and methylecgonidine when it reaches the liver. Methylecgonidine is further processed into ecgonidine. The body excretes most of these byproducts via urine and feces, but some recirculate through the blood. When using large amounts of crack, more byproducts must be excreted or recirculated, extending the time for positive drug tests.

How To Get Crack Out of Your System

The most reliable way to get crack out of your system is to stop using it immediately and wait for it to clear from your body. There is no magic bullet, but it may help to drink lots of water, do aerobic exercise and eat a healthy diet. Consuming alcohol will slow down the clearance of crack from your body, so avoiding alcohol may help.

Crack Addiction Treatment Near Ridgefield, WA

The Recovery Village Ridgefield provides a caring, supportive environment for those struggling with addiction as they begin their journey to lasting recovery. Only a short drive from Portland, Seattle and surrounding cities, The Recovery Village Ridgefield has both a standalone detox facility and the main facility offering several different levels of care to help you stop smoking crack and stay substance-free. 

Care at The Recovery Village Ridgefield includes multiple programs, such as inpatient rehab, outpatient rehab and aftercare planning. Our staff of dedicated medical professionals develops customized treatment plans based on your individualized needs. The Recovery Village Ridgefield offers a wide range of amenities and recreational therapy options to make your rehab experience positive.

If you or a loved one is using crack, The Recovery Village Ridgefield can help. Our multidisciplinary team of experts can provide medical and mental health care that can help you begin the road to recovery. Contact us today to learn more about treatment plans and programs that can work well for you.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.