Cocaine Overdose 

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Cocaine is one of the most popular psychoactive drugs in the modern world. In 2017, this drug singlehandedly led to 19% of deaths due to an overdose in the United States. This highly addictive stimulant drug is now notorious for causing arrhythmias and cardiac arrests if taken in high doses, which may potentially prove life-threatening. Therefore, the family members and friends of cocaine users must familiarize themselves with the signs of a cocaine overdose. While this overdose can be fatal, it is possible to reverse it with prompt treatment.

What Causes an OD on Cocaine?

The causes of a cocaine overdose can vary from one person to another. However, compulsive use remains the chief reason among the rest. Compulsive use means an overwhelming urge to use progressively increasing amounts of cocaine for longer durations. These compulsions can easily trigger toxicity and poisoning, especially during binges, which many cocaine users indulge in frequently. emmahighton

Read Also About How You Can Detox From Cocaine?

A lot of people who abuse cocaine can continue to binge on it for days, compromising their psychological and physical health and stability. Some brain alterations that may occur in these people include interruptions in basic human needs, such as sleep, hydration, and food. The method of using cocaine seems to play a small role in determining the risk of an overdose; however, experts believe that the risk continues to persist with all methods, including injection, smoking, and intranasal use.

Mentioned below are some other reasons why a person would OD on cocaine:

  • To overcome an underlying mental health condition
  • To relieve side effects due to a medication
  • To cope better with daily life stressors
  • To end life

What Does a Cocaine Overdose Feel Like?

As one of the most infamous drugs in the world, cocaine is a potent and equally addictive substance. Synthesized from the coca plant, the drug is known for its rapid, short-term effects that typically accompany its use. Using it brings on euphoria while fostering increased alertness and resulting in hypersensitivity to external stimuli. While cocaine use can easily lead to short- and long-term consequences, the most immediate danger is overdose.

Consuming too much cocaine can increase the heart rate of a user, triggering heart-related issues. Many also complain how this drug also leads to increased blood pressure which increases the strain on their hearts. Other physical and psychological symptoms of cocaine overdose include the following:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • A rise in body temperature
  • Delirium
  • Pain in the chest
  • Panicked feelings
  • Tremors
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia

It is critical for people who use cocaine or have loved ones who use it to learn more about these potential indicators. This is because time becomes a crucial factor in managing an episode of a cocaine overdose, and any delay in treatment may lead to complications, like heart attacks, strokes, seizures, and even death.

What to Do in Case of a Cocaine Overdose

If you believe that you are experiencing or witnessing a case of a cocaine overdose, it is crucial to seek emergency care immediately. Call 911 at once and start gathering information about the victim. You may provide this information to the emergency responders, such as age, drug allergies, drug and alcohol use, and any pre-existing conditions in a person with cocaine overdose.

As you wait for help to arrive, help the patient lay on their side to secure their airway while protecting them from choking on their vomit. If they feel too overheated, try to cool down their body through cold compresses. Ensure that the individual stays in a safe environment without anything in their surroundings that may cause damage, such as sharp objects or keys.

Contacting the emergency services in time can often reverse cocaine overdoses and save the victim. Do not forget to take pre-emptive steps before medical personnel arrives to give the patient a chance of survival. These steps include using wet towels, ice, and cool blankets to lower their temperature while preventing overheating. At the same time, you must know that while following these steps right away can help with recovery, misusing them can further increase the risk of side effects. For example, leaving ice on a person with a cocaine overdose for a long time may lead to hypothermia and frostbite. What’s most important is to maintain your calm, cool, and confidence while allowing medical personnel to give their best shot to the struggling individual.

How to Treat Cocaine Overdose?

Cocaine overdose is a potentially life-threatening condition that requires urgent treatment to save a life. Treatment for this condition aims to stabilize all basic life processes, such as:

  • Heart functioning
  • Respiration
  • Body temperature
  • Kidney functioning

While there is no antidote to reverse cocaine toxicity, experts may use additional types of medication to treat the associated pathological effects. For example, sedatives can help ease the psychological and physical distress related to panic, delusions, agitation, and hallucinations.

Remember that a quick response can significantly differentiate fatality and survival and prevent severe debilitating damage. As a part of treatment for cocaine overdose, experts may also make efforts to prevent damage to the brain or other organs that may occur secondary to complications like hyperthermia and abnormal cardiac functions. To prevent these complications, extreme measures might be required. For example, hyperthermia or high blood pressure due to cocaine overdose may require emergency cooling measures.

Many overdose victims may end up requiring mechanical assistance to maintain breathing or CPR to maintain heart functions. They also get an IV line placed in one of their veins to receive sedatives, other medications, fluids, and glucose. In some cases, physical restraints may become necessary to ensure the safety of an overdose victim and those around them. Throughout the treatment program, all patients undergo constant monitoring and receive medical support to manage their symptoms. Once the physical crisis is over, most such individuals require continued psychiatric treatment.

Recovering From Cocaine Overdose: The Long-Term Management Plan

People who have been lucky enough to survive an episode of coke overdose must realize that they are prone to experiencing it in the future unless they do something about it. For such people, cocaine cravings are highly problematic and may force users to keep consuming the product while avoiding making any recovery efforts. Such people also require further treatment or follow-up to manage the physical and psychological effects of cocaine. Some examples of these effects include the following:

  • Depression
  • Paranoia
  • Suicidal thinking
  • Decreased mental capacity and clarity
  • Persisting delusions or hallucinations

Some people may also require a dual diagnosis treatment, especially when they are experiencing addiction and an underlying mental health issue simultaneously. Some common therapeutic options to get over cocaine addiction and minimize the chances of relapse include the following:

Residential Treatment

Residential treatment provides people with a chance to fully recover from their cocaine addiction by completing a program onsite. This program may last several weeks and include therapy, vocational rehabilitation, and support groups.

Behavioral Treatment

Behavioral treatments for cocaine overdose have shown promising results by treating the underlying addiction. These treatments may take place inpatient or outpatient, and experts typically combine them with medications. Most of these therapies include rewards for successfully meeting goals related to stopping cocaine use and learning positive behaviors that do not involve drug use. One typical example is reality therapy which helps patients focus on living in the present and acquiring problem-solving skills to ensure that they meet their personal goals without hindrance.


Unfortunately, there are no specific medicines designed to manage cocaine addiction. However, some people may benefit from antidepressants to improve their low mood.

Alternative Therapies

Other solutions to overcome cocaine addiction and minimize the risk of relapse include exercising, acupuncture, hypnosis, and herbs. However, most of these alternative therapies require more research to prove their efficacy.


How much cocaine does it take to trigger an overdose?

As per the National Institute on Drug Abuse, cocaine overdose occurs when an individual takes it in quantities sufficient to reach toxic levels in their system. Once this happens, a serious reaction takes place inside the body. However, there is no way to pinpoint the exact quantity of this drug that is capable of inducing an overdose. This is because cocaine tolerance is different for different people, and while some people can develop toxicity with only a few milligrams, others may ingest several grams without any side effects. These statistics suggest that overdose toxicity due to cocaine largely depends on the individual user and their susceptibility to toxins.

Who is at risk of a coke overdose?

To put it simply, anyone using this drug is at risk of overdosing. However, certain influential factors do increase the risk, such as:

  • Mixing cocaine with other substances, such as opioids, amphetamines, and alcohol
  • Cocaine binging
  • A past medical history of an underlying lung, kidney, or heart problem
  • The presence of cocaine addiction
  • A past history of an underlying mental health illness
  • Living and using cocaine along

In what ways do people overdose on cocaine?

The commonest way in which an individual may overdose on cocaine is by ingesting too much of it in a relatively shorter time span. Some people may also develop this issue because they are unaware of the drug’s purity and consume it in quantities higher than their bodies are used to.  Changing the method of intake also significantly increases the risk of an overdose. For example, someone who snorts cocaine may have a different experience if they try injecting or smoking the drug. Lastly, many people may overdose because of mixing cocaine with other drugs to enhance its effects.

Can I accidentally overdose on cocaine?

Yes, a large majority of people experience a cocaine overdose accidentally. Most of these people do not realize that the cocaine batch they are using has other substances added to it which carry the ability to increase the overall psychoactive effects of these drugs to a dangerous extent.

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