Cocaine Overdose: Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention
Though often regarded as a party drug, cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant that was responsible for almost 25,500 reported deaths in 2021. There are many risks to cocaine use, including the potential for a fatal overdose.
Knowing the symptoms of cocaine overdose is critical to both getting help for yourself and saving your loved one’s life in the event of an emergency. In fact, this knowledge can mean the difference between life and death.
A cocaine overdose, also known as cocaine toxicity, happens when there’s enough cocaine in the body to reach toxic levels. This can happen from taking too much cocaine or taking cocaine with other substances that mask or amplify its effects, such as fentanyl.
Cocaine causes a rapid spike in the core body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. These effects are worsened during an overdose.
The symptoms of cocaine overdose include:
- Altered mental state
- Chest pains
- Slow speech or movement
- Elevated body temperature
- Weak pulse
- Extreme sweating
- Extreme itching
- A sudden narrowing of the arteries (vasospasm)
Overdoses can be subtle, so it’s important to recognize the signs of a cocaine overdose and act quickly.
If you suspect someone is experiencing a cocaine overdose, call 911 immediately and wait with them until the emergency medical team arrives. If the person is unconscious, turn them on their side to prevent them from choking if they vomit. If the person has a seizure, move objects away from them to avoid injury and wait for it to pass.
Don’t be concerned about the risk of legal trouble. The Good Samaritan Law forbids prosecution for overdose response for both you and the person overdosing.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the national overdose deaths involving stimulants like cocaine rose from 12,122 in 2015 to 53,495 in 2021. The deaths increased when cocaine is mixed with synthetic opioids like fentanyl. With opioids, the cocaine overdose deaths rose from nearly 7,000 in 2015 to 24,486 in 2021.
Those numbers are likely to continue rising. As of 2021, about 1.7% of the population – 4.8 million people – reported using cocaine in the past 12 months. In 2022, an estimated 0.5% of 8th graders, 0.3% of 10th graders, and 1.5% of 12th graders reported using cocaine in the past 12 months, according to the 2022 Monitoring the Future Survey.
It’s important to realize that cocaine is not a harmless drug, and it’s entirely possible to overdose again. Recovery Unplugged offers compassionate and effective cocaine addiction treatment in Florida, Texas and several other locations across the country. We provide medically supervised detox, comprehensive behavioral rehab, and a variety of supplemental therapies. You don’t have to spend another second struggling with cocaine abuse on your own.
Cocaine doesn’t have a clear dosage that causes overdose like some other drugs. Some people can overdose with small doses while others can use high amounts over extended periods without toxicity.
There are several factors that impact how much cocaine an individual can tolerate. The potency of the cocaine itself is a big part of the overdose risk, especially when it’s cut with other substances to add bulk and increase the profit margin.
Cocaine is never harmless. Even occasional use can cause overdose or other adverse effects, but the risk is compounded with regular use. Cocaine brings a rapid, short-lived high that naturally leads to binges to recapture that feeling. Over time, this causes addiction.
Aside from the risks of overdose, cocaine carries short- and long-term risks for the body and brain, including heart damage and brain damage. While it can be difficult to overcome, cocaine addiction is treatable.
The options for stimulant use disorder, the official term for cocaine addiction, include:
- Medical detox: Medical detox is often the first step in treatment to minimize the effects of withdrawal and stay as safe and comfortable as possible. This process includes a 24/7 stay with medical supervision until the drug clears the system.
- Inpatient treatment: Inpatient treatment takes place in a residential setting and provides intensive care, support, and supervision 24/7.
- Outpatient treatment: Outpatient treatment can be a transition from detox or inpatient treatment, depending on your needs. This is ideal for people who need to balance responsibilities to work, home, or school with their treatment.
Whether you pursue treatment in an inpatient or outpatient setting, it typically includes behavioral therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and contingency management. CBT is an evidence-based therapy that focuses on identifying unhealthy thoughts that contribute to drug use and replacing them with more productive ones.
Contingency management offers incentives to reinforce positive behavioral changes, such as adhering to a treatment program or staying abstinent.
Cocaine is not a harmless drug. It’s possible to overdose at any time, but the risk increases with regular use. If you or a loved one is struggling with cocaine abuse or addiction, help is available. Recovery Unplugged offers compassionate and evidence-based cocaine addiction treatment with medical detox, behavioral rehab, and supplemental therapies. Contact us today to learn more about your options.
How Long Does It Take to Overdose on Coke?
Cocaine overdoses aren’t universal. Some people overdose with small amounts, while others can abuse cocaine for long periods without experiencing an overdose. The time it takes for the overdose to occur can also vary depending on the individual, the potency of the cocaine, and any other drugs in the system.
What Do I Do If My Loved One Overdoses?
If you suspect a loved one is overdosing, call 911 immediately and wait until help arrives. You should turn them on their side to avoid choking if they vomit. Recovery can take a few days, but this is a good time to discuss getting help with a cocaine addiction treatment program to prevent an overdose from happening in the future.
-  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2023, June 30). Drug overdose death rates. National Institutes of Health. Retrieved from https://nida.nih.gov/research-topics/trends-statistics/overdose-death-rates on 2023, August 22.
-  Cocaine toxicity. Cocaine toxicity – Symptoms, diagnosis and treatment | BMJ Best Practice US. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://bestpractice.bmj.com/topics/en-us/340 on 2023, August 22..
-  Cocaine toxicity – statpearls – NCBI bookshelf. (n.d.-b). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430976/ on 2023, August 22.
-  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2023, July 10). Drug overdose death rates. National Institutes of Health. Retrieved from https://nida.nih.gov/research-topics/trends-statistics/overdose-death-rates on 2023, August 22.
-  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2023a, February 13). What is the scope of cocaine use in the United States?. National Institutes of Health. Retrieved from https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/what-scope-cocaine-use-in-united-states on 2023, August 22.
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