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Cocaine Blood Test

Last updated Sept. 24, 2018

Approved by: Krish Tangella MD, MBA, FCAP

Nightlife Of Revelry

Cocaine is an illegal stimulant drug derived from the coca plant. The molecule responsible for its psychoactive effects is extracted and concentrated, which results in a white powder that is cocaine.

What are other Names for this Test? (Equivalent Terms)

  • Benzoylmethylecgonine Blood Test
  • Ecgonine Methyl Ester Benzoate Blood Test

What is Cocaine Blood Test? (Background Information)

  • Cocaine is an illegal stimulant drug derived from the coca plant. The molecule responsible for its psychoactive effects is extracted and concentrated, which results in a white powder that is cocaine
  • Cocaine is taken or administered through snorting, injection, or inhalation. It may also be further processed to produce crack cocaine, which has a greater potency
  • Cocaine is often treated with toxic solvents and other chemicals during processing. This results in an impure drug, which also contributes to adverse reactions including toxicity
  • When ingested along with alcohol, the psychoactive effects of cocaine are enhanced (as is the danger). This is due to the formation of a compound called cocaethylene
  • Cocaine is also often combined with heroin to increase its euphoric effects. This mixture is called a “speedball” and is particularly dangerous because of its potential for causing an overdose
  • Cocaine works by acting on the reward pathway of the brain. This results in the increase in levels of various chemical messengers, such as dopamine and epinephrine (adrenaline)
  • Cocaine use is dangerous because of the harmful effects it has on the cardiovascular system, as well as because of its psychoactive effects. Lastly, it has a very high potential for addiction
  • The Cocaine Blood Test helps determine the levels of cocaine in blood. It is used to detect cocaine use and overdose

What are the Clinical Indications for performing the Cocaine Blood Test?

Following are the clinical indications for performing the Cocaine Blood Test:

  • As part of an employment screen
  • Abnormal behavior
  • Itching
  • Fever
  • Abnormal heartbeat
  • Hallucinations
  • The presence of excessively warm skin

How is the Specimen Collected for Cocaine Blood Test?

Following is the specimen collection process for Cocaine Blood Test:

Sample required: Blood

Process of obtaining blood sample in adults:

  • A band is wrapped around the arm, 3-4 inches above the collection site (superficial vein that lies within the elbow pit)
  • The site is cleaned with 70% alcohol in an outward spiral, away from the zone of needle insertion
  • The needle cap is removed and is held in line with the vein, pulling the skin tight
  • With a small and quick thrust, the vein is penetrated using the needle
  • The required amount of blood sample is collected by pulling the plunger of the syringe out slowly
  • The wrap band is removed, gauze is placed on the collection site, and the needle is removed
  • The blood is immediately transferred into the blood container, which has the appropriate preservative/clot activator/anti-coagulant
  • The syringe and the needle are disposed into the appropriate “sharp container” for safe and hygienic disposal

Preparation required: No special preparation is needed prior to the test.

What is the Significance of the Cocaine Blood Test Result?

  • A positive value for the Cocaine Blood Test may indicate cocaine use or overdose

The laboratory test results are NOT to be interpreted as results of a "stand-alone" test. The test results have to be interpreted after correlating with suitable clinical findings and additional supplemental tests/information. Your healthcare providers will explain the meaning of your tests results, based on the overall clinical scenario.

Additional and Relevant Useful Information:

  • Cocaine has a high potential for addiction and may cause life-threatening reactions during an overdose. Seek medical attention immediately if you suspect a cocaine overdose

Certain medications that you may be currently taking may influence the outcome of the test. Hence, it is important to inform your healthcare provider of the complete list of medications (including any herbal supplements) you are currently taking. This will help the healthcare provider interpret your test results more accurately and avoid unnecessary chances of a misdiagnosis.

What are some Useful Resources for Additional Information?

References and Information Sources used for the Article:

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: Jan. 17, 2016
Last updated: Sept. 24, 2018