Cocaine Overdose: Signs and Symptoms To Be Aware Of

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Drug abuse and addiction are far more widespread than we would like to believe. A recent survey found that roughly 5 million individuals in the United States used cocaine in 2021 alone. Additionally, 0.5% of 8th graders in the U.S. used cocaine in 2022, noting a trend of substance abuse in youth [1]. Drug abuse runs rampant within our society, and drug overdose has been a leading cause of drug-related deaths worldwide.

What is Cocaine?

Cocaine is an illegal stimulant drug found in South America and derived from two different coca leaves – Erythroxylum coca and novogranatense. Cocaine is a “Schedule II” drug, which means it is illegal when used recreationally but can be prescribed by physicians for medicinal purposes. Cocaine addiction is a rapidly growing trend, due to the short-lived feeling of euphoria experienced by its users. To learn more about cocaine addiction, including when cocaine was removed from Coca-Cola, read our other online resources.

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Can You Overdose on Cocaine?

An overdose is the body’s reaction to a drug dosage that overwhelms the individual’s tolerance. Overdoses are not to be taken lightly and require emergency medical support to help stabilize and potentially save the life of the patient.

If a large enough dose is taken, cocaine overdose is possible. The risk increases when cocaine is taken in tandem with other drugs or alcohol. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), men are three times more likely than women to die from overdosing on coke [2].

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Can You Overdose on Crack?

The answer is yes. Crack is known to be more potent than cocaine, which often leads to a higher rate of addiction and overdose. The symptoms of a crack overdose are similar to that of a cocaine overdose. It may be considered “easier” to overdose on crack simply due to its higher potency.

Individuals who use the drug even for the first time run the risk of overdose, especially when attempting to use the same amount as more long-term, experienced users. Experienced users require higher doses, as their bodies have developed a higher tolerance to the drug.

Cocaine Overdose Symptoms

When a cocaine overdose occurs, one may experience a cardiac arrest – a complete halting of the heart’s beating. Breathing difficulty will immediately ensue and death will follow a short time later. If you see someone displaying signs of cocaine overdose or any drug overdose symptoms, call 911 or emergency responders as soon as possible. You may be saving the victim’s life.

Signs and symptoms of cocaine overdose include:

  • Elevated heart rate
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Chest pain
  • Change in breathing patterns
  • Lack of consciousness
  • Body tremors
  • Panic
  • Paranoia
  • Delusion
  • Delirium

It is important to note that a cocaine overdose can lead to severe outcomes aside from death, such as heart attacks, seizures/convulsions, and stroke. These side effects of cocaine use cause significant damage to the body and lead to chronic health conditions.

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How Much Cocaine Does it Take to Overdose?

It is difficult to determine what exact amounts of cocaine are lethal, as it depends on several factors – as well as the fact that Cocaine is often laced with other drugs, such as fentanyl or baking soda..

Here are a few factors that can impact overdose capability:

  • Age: The younger one begins, the larger the risk of cocaine addiction and coke overdose.
  • Gender: Men have a higher likelihood of overdosing on coke than women.
  • Weight: One’s weight impacts the dosage that the body needs to feel the effects of the drug. Miscalculating dosage can lead to an overdose.
  • Drug use history: The higher the frequency of use, the higher the tolerance. Increased tolerance can result in the need for higher doses of cocaine, leading to accidental cocaine overdose.
  • Mixing substances: Mixing powerful drugs may cause the body to hit a threshold never crossed before, and the results can be fatal.
  • Strength of coke: Since cocaine is manufactured on the street, different batches have different amounts of potency and will therefore lead to different effects. 

So how much cocaine does it take to overdose? It depends on you, your current health status, your history of cocaine usage, and whether or not you are mixing the drug with other substances. Those who use cocaine carefully and responsibly face less of a risk of overdosing.

How to Treat Cocaine Overdose

When it comes to a coke overdose, imminent treatment is essential to prevent the user from losing their life. 

If you witness cocaine overdose symptoms in someone, call 911 immediately. Emergency medical professionals will be able to treat the individual and counter the cocaine overdose symptoms before it becomes fatal. 

Here are some actions to take while you wait:

  • Stay and monitor the individual until help arrives
  • Apply cold compresses to keep the individual’s body temperature down
  • Move away sharp objects and anything that may cause harm to the individual in case they experience a seizure

After the incident, the individual should receive treatment for drug addiction in order to get themselves off of the drug. This can be in the form of drug rehab, detox programs, therapy etc. Additionally, behavioral therapy (such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for addiction) has been very beneficial in treating individuals with cocaine addiction and preventing further instances of cocaine overdose. 

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Coke Overdose Prevention at Avenues Recovery

When one is addicted, seeking help is hard - but it is the most important and worthwhile journey to embark on. Many treatment modalities are available, including behavioral therapy, pharmacological intervention, motivational interviewing, and rehabilitation.

It can be difficult to take the first step and have a conversation with someone who doesn’t know you, but there are experts out there who can guide you and provide you with the help you need. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has a free, confidential hotline available to answer any questions about substance abuse or mental health help. They can be reached at 1–800–662–4357.

As a premier drug and alcohol rehab, Avenues Recovery Center has excellent resources and treatment programs to help guide and support you throughout your journey to recovery. Reach out to us and our professional addiction counselors and expert staff will be ready to guide you toward a better life, addiction-free. Start your journey to recovery with us today. 

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[1] cdc.gov

[2] nida.nih.gov

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