Cocaine is a remarkably dangerous and powerful illicit stimulant drug that works by increasing the concentration of dopamine in the brain, a neurochemical responsible for feelings of reward and euphoria. This high can become very desirable, and anyone who uses cocaine, even once, is indeed at risk of experiencing a life-threatening overdose.
Powdered cocaine is white and is most commonly snorted, but can also be mixed with water and injected intravenously. In this form, a cocaine habit can be quite costly, but is still commonly abused and accounts for more than 500,000 emergency room visits each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), overdose deaths involving cocaine increased from 3,822 to nearly 14,000 from 1999-2017.
One reason that cocaine overdoses continue to rise is due to an increased propensity for drug users to combine cocaine with opioids. This practice is commonly known as “speedballing,” which can lead to dangerous drug interactions and death.
There has also been a rise in the use of crack, which is a less pure but highly-concentrated form of cocaine that is usually smoked. Crack can be derived from powdered cocaine by diluting it and adding other substances (usually baking soda), and it is less expensive than its pricey counterpart. The mixture is boiled to form a solid, which is then cooled, broken into pieces, and sold on the street as crack. It appears as a rock-like substance that is usually white, cream, tan, or light brown.
Cocaine Overdose Symptoms
In most instances, cocaine overdose symptoms are very pronounced versions of the drug’s typical effects. Cocaine stimulates the central nervous system (CNS), and in doing so, produces an invigorating high. An overdose will intensify these effects to an extent in which the body is unable to handle. This overstimulation can result in a number of worrisome symptoms, including the following:
- Chest pain
- Tachycardia (rapid heart rate)
- Arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat)
- Twitching and tremors
- Depression or anxiety
The euphoria of cocaine can distract a person from these symptoms, many of which can cause irreversible damage. Chronic, heavy cocaine users are at high risk for heart attacks, strokes, seizures, coma, and death.
Cocaine Overdose Signs
If you suspect someone you know may be experiencing an overdose, there are several warning signs to look for, including the following:
- Elevated blood pressure
- High body temperature
- Agitation and aggression
- Teeth grinding or chattering
- Excessive sweating
- Respiratory or kidney failure
- Cerebral hypoxia
- Heart attack
Cocaine overdoses can ravage the human cardiovascular system. If you notice that the above signs are present following cocaine use, it is vital to seek emergency medical help by calling 911 or visiting the nearest emergency room promptly. Death from a cocaine overdose can happen rapidly, so time is of the essence in these situations.
How Much Cocaine Is Too Much?
An overdose of cocaine usually occurs either because the user ingests an excessive amount in a single episode or because they repeatedly abuse cocaine to sustain the euphoric high, which typically lasts less than half an hour. The latter is often the most dangerous behavior since the user doesn’t always realize how much they’ve actually ingested until it’s too late.
There is no one precise amount of cocaine that will induce an overdose in everyone. Instead, the required amount varies, depending on individual risk factors. For one, the concurrent use of other substances, such as alcohol or other drugs, is more likely to result in an overdose, and it might take a lot less cocaine for this to happen than if it was used on its own.
Beyond polysubstance abuse, an individual’s body chemistry, level of tolerance, and age play a role, as well as a person’s overall health. The method administration used and the potency of the cocaine also have a great deal to do with the risk for overdose. For example, injecting cocaine can lead to a life-threatening reaction at just 20 mg in some cases, while snorting the drug usually requires much more.
Treatment for Cocaine Addiction
Cocaine addiction is a devastating condition that adversely impacts those who suffer as well as those close to him or her. Treatment for cocaine addiction usually begins with a medically-supervised detox, followed by long-term care in the form of comprehensive addiction treatment programs.
Recovery By The Sea offers an integrated, individualized approach to addiction treatment that includes essential services, such as psychotherapy, counseling, group support, and more. Our addiction specialists seek to provide our clients with the knowledge and tools they need to recover fully and sustain long-lasting wellness and happiness.
You CAN regain your life, and fortunately, you don’t have to do it alone—we can help! Please contact us today!