Find Answers on Cocaine Overdose and Get Support at Changes

Many people think of drugs like heroin, fentanyl, and other opiates when they think of overdose. While opiates may be responsible for more overdose deaths than cocaine, stimulants like cocaine are still dangerous. For individuals wondering “Can cocaine kill you?”, the short answer is yes.

Approximately 24,486 individuals died in the United States in 2021 from cocaine overdose. Additionally, around 1.4 million people reported struggles with cocaine use disorder in 2021.

While cocaine overdose is not always fatal, it affects the cardiovascular system the most. The rapid heart rate commonly experienced after using stimulants can also be a sign of a heart attack, stroke, seizure, or other problems that require medical attention. Learning to recognize these signs is critical to getting help in a timely matter if you or a loved one has overdosed.

Keep reading to learn more about the signs of a cocaine overdose, how much cocaine is lethal, and how we can help individuals with a cocaine use disorder at Changes Healing Center!

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Can Cocaine Kill You?

Cocaine overdoses resulting in death are not as common as opiate deaths. Even so, too much cocaine can have deadly consequences. Acute toxicity results in unpleasant symptoms but the effects of cocaine use on the cardiovascular system can lead to heart attack, stroke, or seizures resulting in death. These risks are worse when mixing cocaine with other drugs or alcohol.

How Much Cocaine Does it Take to Overdose?

One of the reasons individuals may overdose is the inconsistency of street drugs. Substances like cocaine are not regulated. The volume of the cocaine also does not always reflect its strength, as many street drugs like cocaine are not 100% pure. Cocaine may also be cut with baby aspirin, laxatives, or other street drugs like fentanyl or heroin.

Additionally, the lethal dose of cocaine varies slightly depending on an individual’s body weight and drug use history. Someone who is addicted to cocaine and uses it regularly may be able to tolerate a stronger dose. This will also affect how long it takes to detox from cocaine, and the severity of the effects experienced during withdrawal.

What Are the Short-Term Effects of Cocaine?

Short-Term Effects of Cocaine

Cocaine is made using the leaves of the coca plant found in South America. It was used in the early production of Coca-Cola. In medicine, cocaine was used in surgeries and it is occasionally used as a local anesthetic in medical circumstances today.

The cocaine production process is synthetic, meaning that it is based on the effects of coca leaves but is made much stronger through a process of refinement.

Cocaine use is known for providing pain relief and producing feelings of euphoria. These effects make cocaine susceptible to drug abuse, particularly in individuals who use cocaine to escape reality or as an everyday stimulant. It can also make depression and anhedonia (lack of ability to feel pleasure) that much more severe, making medical detox for cocaine recommended in most cases.

How Does Cocaine Interact with the Body and Brain?

Cocaine is a central nervous system stimulant drug that interacts with neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. The stimulation can make you feel focused and alert. Cocaine use also boosts confidence and results in feelings of excitement and enjoyment that can be highly addictive.

The effects of cocaine on your body are what makes it dangerous. Cocaine use can lead to constriction of blood vessels around the heart, causing reduced blood flow and lower oxygen levels that may result in a heart attack. It can also cause high blood pressure, blood clots, myocardial infarction, heart failure, and other conditions that may result in death.

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How is Cocaine Used?

Like with many other drugs, cocaine can be ingested in several ways. Snorting cocaine or taking it intranasally is popular for recreational use. Cocaine is absorbed through the nasal tissues and passes into the bloodstream. Some people also use it orally by rubbing it on their gums, where it is absorbed into the blood.

Cocaine can also be mixed with water and injected, which results in a shorter, more intense high. Using needles to inject cocaine has a higher risk of overdose and also comes with an increased risk of exposure to Hepatitis C, HIV, and other infections. There’s also a risk of collapsed veins, blood clots, and abscesses when using IV drugs.

Finally, some individuals inhale cocaine by smoking it. There is a lower risk of overdoses when smoking crack/cocaine but it results in an incredibly powerful high that can be even more immediately addictive.

Can You Die Instantly from Cocaine?

The potential for cocaine overdose changes depending on how it is ingested. The way that cocaine speeds your heartbeat, constricts the blood vessels, and raises blood pressure creates the perfect environment for a heart attack.

Research shows that cocaine users are 23 times more likely to have a heart attack after ingesting the drug. This significant increase in risk lasts long after ingesting the drug because of the negative effects on the heart muscle. A lethal dose can also lead to stroke or seizure which may cause brain damage or death.

Warning Signs of a Cocaine Overdose

Signs of a Cocaine Overdose

Cocaine overdose happens in stages. The earliest stages are known as cocaine toxicity but at any time, this toxicity can lead to a serious situation that results in sudden death. Warning signs include:

  • Headache
  • Altered mental status including anxiety, paranoia, agitation, restlessness, and confusion
  • Blurred vision or total vision loss
  • Neurological deficits
  • Hyperthermia
  • Chest pain, vascular spasms, and arrhythmias
  • Abnormal or increased heart rate
  • Abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Hypertension
  • Gasping and irregular breathing
  • Decreased blood flow to the heart

When cocaine overdose is not treated, these symptoms can progress. Signs of overdose include fixed and dilated pupils, loss of vital functions, coma, respiratory failure, hypotension, heart attack, seizures, or stroke.

These symptoms are dangerous and likely to result in death without medical intervention.

What to Do During a Cocaine Overdose

If you believe that you or a friend are overdosing from cocaine use, it’s important to seek medical help immediately. Stroke can cause brain damage in minutes and heart attacks are often deadly without immediate treatment.

How is Cocaine Overdose Treated?

Seek Treatment for Cocaine Overdose

You should not attempt to treat a suspected overdose at home. Unlike opioid use where individuals can use Narcan to reverse the effects, there is no similar drug that negates the effects of cocaine.

In a medical setting or emergency room, cocaine overdose is treated by monitoring the patient and responding as needed. Often, a cocktail of different drugs is used to reduce the stimulating effects of cocaine use.

Will I Get in Trouble if I Seek Treatment for Cocaine Overdose?

People may put off getting help for a potential overdose if they are worried about the consequences. While there is no legal consequence that can be worse than dying, the risk of being charged for substance abuse or possession of controlled substances is minor.

Many states have protections in place for certain drug-related crimes to encourage treatment and eventual recovery from addiction.

How Do I Know if I’m Addicted to Cocaine?

Some signs of cocaine addiction include:

  • Needing to use more cocaine to feel the same effects
  • Seeking other substances when cocaine is not available
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not using cocaine
  • Declining physical or mental health from prolonged use
  • Noticing the effects of cocaine use at work, financially, or in relationships
  • Family/friends are concerned

If you aren’t sure, call us to set up a drug assessment today. While there are drug assessments available online, there is no guarantee of accuracy.

During the assessment, you’ll work with a member of our staff to determine whether the use of cocaine, alcohol, or other substances is a problem for you.

Getting Help for Cocaine Abuse After Overdose Treatment

Getting Help for Cocaine Abuse

We believe every client that comes through our doors is an individual and our treatment methods reflect that. When you are ready to seek addiction treatment, we can work together to put a treatment plan in place to overcome addiction for good.

Some of the evidence-based treatments offered at our facility include individual, group, and family therapy, music and art therapy, physical activity, and more. The behavioral therapies offered at our center are especially beneficial in helping individuals learn to break habits that lead to substance use through challenging patterns and beliefs, managing cravings, and handling stress in a healthy way.

We also offer medication-assisted detox when needed and mental health treatment.

Reach Out For Help At Changes Today!

Get Support in Overcoming Cocaine at Changes

Cocaine may be thought of as a party drug but it can have dangerous consequences. If you have recently experienced an overdose or are just looking to overcome addiction and improve the quality of your life, reach out to our team at Changes today. We are waiting to help with your cocaine addiction recovery.

The effects of cocaine overdose can be life-threatening. Even so, we understand that addiction is a serious disease that alters the way your brain functions. It can be hard to recover from addictive substances and we want you to know that you are not alone.

Call us today to learn more about treatment options and how we can provide the support that you need for recovery!

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430976/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6387265/
  3. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/how-cocaine-used
  4. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/what-scope-cocaine-use-in-united-states