Cocaine is a dangerous and potent illicit stimulant that acts in the brain by increasing the concentration of dopamine, a neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of euphoria. This high can be very desirable, and any person who abuses cocaine, even once, is, in fact, at risk of having a life-threatening overdose.
Powdered cocaine is white and is most often snorted, but can also be diluted with water and injected into a vein. A cocaine habit that involves this method can be costly, but is still commonly used and accounts for over 500,000 emergency department visits each year. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, overdose fatalities involving cocaine increased from 3,822 to nearly 14,000 between 1999-2017.
One reason that cocaine overdoses continue to increase is due to an increased propensity for drug users to use cocaine in combination with opioids or other depressants. This practice is also commonly known as “speedballing,” a dangerous practice that can lead to drug interactions and death.
There has also been a rise in crack abuse—a less pure but highly-concentrated cocaine form that is usually smoked. Crack is derived from powder cocaine by diluting it and adding other substances such as baking soda, and it is not as expensive as its pricey counterpart. The mixture is boiled until it forms a solid, cooled, broken into pieces, and sold on the street as crack, which looks like a rock-like substance that is typically white, cream, tan, or light brown.
Cocaine Overdose Symptoms
In most instances, cocaine overdose signs are pronounced versions of the drug’s usual effects. Cocaine stimulates activity in the central nervous system (CNS), and in doing so, produces an invigorating high. An overdose will amplify these effects to an extent in which the body is no longer able to handle. This overstimulation can lead to many problematic symptoms, including the following:
- Chest pain
- Rapid heart rate
- Irregular heartbeat
- Twitching and tremors
- Depression or anxiety
The euphoria feelings of cocaine can distract a person from these symptoms, many of which can induce irreversible damage. Chronic cocaine users are at high risk for heart attacks, seizures, strokes, coma, and death.
Cocaine Overdose Signs
If you suspect a person you know is experiencing an overdose, there are several warning signs and symptoms you can look for, including the following:
- Increased blood pressure
- High body temperature
- Agitation and aggression
- Excessive teeth grinding
- Excessive sweating
- Respiratory or kidney failure
- Lack of oxygen to the brain
- Heart attack
Cocaine overdoses can wreak havoc on the cardiovascular system. If you notice that the aforementioned signs are present following the use of cocaine, it is critical to seek emergency medical help by calling 911 or visiting the nearest emergency department immediately. Death from a cocaine overdose can occur rapidly, so time is essential in these situations.
How Much Cocaine Is Too Much?
An overdose of cocaine typically occurs either because the person ingests an excessive amount in a single episode or repeatedly abuses cocaine to sustain the euphoric high that typically lasting less than half an hour. The latter is often the riskiest behavior because the user doesn’t always realize how much they’ve ingested until it’s too late.
There is no one exact amount of cocaine that will induce an overdose in every individual. Instead, the required amount varies, depending on several risk factors. For one, the use of additional substances, such as alcohol or other drugs, is more likely to lead to an overdose, and it might take a lot less cocaine for this to occur than if used on its own.
Beyond the abuse of multiple substances, a person’s body chemistry, level of tolerance, age, and a person’s overall health play a role. The route of administration used and the purity and potency of the cocaine also have a great deal to do with overdose risk. For example, injecting cocaine can result in a life-threatening reaction at just 20 mg in some instances while snorting the drug usually requires considerably more.
Treatment for Cocaine Addiction
Cocaine addiction is a potentially devastating condition that hurts those who suffer as well as his or her loved ones. Treatment for cocaine addiction should begin with medically-supervised detox, followed by long-term care in a comprehensive addiction treatment program.
Just Believe Detox and Just Believe Recovery centers offer an integrated, customized approach to addiction treatment that includes essential services, such as behavioral therapy, individual and family counseling, group support, mindfulness therapy, and more. Our addiction specialists seek to provide those we treat with the knowledge and tools they need to recover fully and maintain long-lasting happiness and well-being.
You CAN reclaim your life, and fortunately, you don’t have to do it alone—we can help!