Can You Overdose on Cocaine?

Man experiences a cocaine overdose and grabs his chest

Cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant drug derived from the coca plant. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, an estimated 1.5 million people aged 12 or older used cocaine in 2014. Cocaine users may wonder, can you overdose on coke? Yes, a person can intentionally or unintentionally overdose on cocaine if they take a high enough dose.

How much cocaine is required to overdose varies depending on individual biological factors and a person’s drug use history. The use of cocaine concurrently with other drugs such as alcohol, heroin or weed can also increase the risk of overdose. Due to the severity of cocaine overdose symptoms and the risk of permanent organ damage and death, emergency medical treatment is critical. However, recovery from a cocaine overdose and cocaine addiction is possible with the proper treatment.

Identifying Cocaine Overdose

A cocaine overdose can lead to cardiovascular and nervous system damage, coma and death. Therefore, it is critical to quickly identify the signs of a cocaine overdose and seek emergency medical care immediately. Although initial symptoms may be difficult to identify, several signs indicate an individual is experiencing a cocaine overdose, including:

  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Extreme energy
  • Depression
  • Paranoia
  • Twitching
  • Complaints of headaches or racing heartbeat
  • Confusion
  • Teeth grinding

If you believe that you are experiencing an overdose or witnessing one, call 911 immediately.

Experiencing Cocaine Overdose

Cocaine overdose effects and how long an overdose lasts depend on the dose, administration route and individual biological factors such as height, weight, age and health. Cocaine overdoses can persist for minutes or hours and can range in severity from minor to life-threatening.

The risk of a cocaine overdose is highest when injecting the drug, although overdose can occur with any administration route. The dose required to overdose varies greatly and can range from a few hundred milligrams to several grams. Individuals with underlying medical problems such as liver disease may experience an overdose with a lower cocaine dose than individuals who have developed a physical tolerance to the drug.

Individuals who use cocaine in conjunction with other substances such as alcohol or heroin are also at an increased risk of overdose due to interactions between the substances within the body. Cocaine overdoses vary from person to person, so it is important not to compare overdose circumstances. No quantity of cocaine is considered safe from the risk of overdose.

Cocaine Overdose Symptoms

Initially, cocaine overdose symptoms mirror the typical side effects of the drug, such as increased energy, excitability and euphoria. However, overdose symptoms can quickly escalate and may be life-threatening without prompt treatment. Cocaine overdose symptoms include both physical and psychological signs.

Physical overdose symptoms include:

  • Rapid heart rate
  • Irregular heart rhythm
  • Heart attack
  • Seizure
  • Stroke
  • Breathing difficulties
  • High blood pressure
  • High body temperature
  • Chest pain
  • Seizures

Psychological overdose symptoms include:

  • Hallucinations
  • Panic attacks
  • Extreme anxiety or agitation
  • Paranoia
  • Confusion

Risks of Cocaine Overdose

A cocaine overdose can occur the first time the drug is taken or after repeated use. Depending on the severity of the overdose, symptoms can last from minutes to hours. Without immediate treatment, death from a cocaine overdose can occur. According to a report by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), cocaine-related overdose deaths increased from 1999 to 2017, with nearly 14,000 overdose deaths linked to cocaine in 2017. A cocaine overdose can also lead to severe side effects and permanent organ damage. Long-term risks of a cocaine overdose include:

  • Seizures
  • Stroke
  • Paralysis
  • Mental health conditions such as anxiety and psychosis
  • Decreased cognitive function
  • Cardiovascular damage
  • Kidney failure
  • Muscle damage

Treating Cocaine Overdose

How can a cocaine overdose be stopped? Unfortunately, no medication exists that can specifically reverse a cocaine overdose. Thus, overdose treatment focuses on addressing life-threatening symptoms and providing supportive care. Medical professionals responding to a cocaine overdose concentrate on restoring blood flow to the heart or oxygen to the brain if an individual suffers a heart attack or stroke. Anti-seizure medications are administered if necessary.

For individuals seeking recovery from cocaine addiction, cocaine detox can be challenging due to severe withdrawal symptoms. A professional detox program is recommended, as trained medical staff are available to monitor and manage withdrawal symptoms.

If you’re struggling with addiction to cocaine, the proper resources can help. Contact The Recovery Village Columbus to speak with a representative who can help you explore cocaine addiction treatment programs and locate detox centers in Ohio. You deserve a healthier future; call today.

Sources

  • Drugabuse.gov. “What is the scope of cocaine use in the United States?.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, May, 2016. Accessed October 3, 2019.
  • MethOIDE. “Cocaine Overdose.” The University of Arizona, 2019. Accessed October 3, 2019.
  • Drugabuse.gov. “Overdose Death Rates.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, January, 2019. Accessed October 3, 2019.
  • Drugabuse.gov. “Cocaine.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, July, 2018. Accessed October 3, 2019.
  • Medlineplus.gov. “Cocaine intoxication.” U.S. National Library of Medicine, September 11, 2019. Accessed October 3, 2019.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village Columbus 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.