Cocaine Overdose: Signs, Effects, and FAQs

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Cocaine is an illicit Schedule II controlled substance, but can someone overdose on cocaine?

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This guide will help you understand what happens when you overdose on cocaine. You will also discover what to do if you or a loved one overdose on cocaine, the most effective cocaine overdose treatment, and how to connect with cocaine addiction treatment.

What is a Cocaine Overdose?

Cocaine overdose takes place when someone has taken enough cocaine to trigger potentially serious adverse effects.

Overdosing on cocaine may be intentional or unintentional. Most unintentional cocaine overdoses occur after someone takes too much cocaine, or after they use cocaine that is adulterated with other substances – fentanyl, for instance.

It is possible to experience a cocaine overdose without being dependent on cocaine and without being addicted to the drug. Any use of cocaine exposes you to the risk of serious and potentially life-threatening overdose. 

Cocaine overdose can be influenced by many factors. Mixing cocaine with other substances like alcohol or heroin heightens the risk of overdosing as well as an increased chance of binge drinking and alcohol poisoning.

Cocaine Overdose Signs

What does a cocaine overdose feel like? If you overdose on cocaine, this can be damaging to your health, both physically and mentally. The most common signs of a cocaine overdose are as follows: 

      • Problems with breathing

      • Raised body temperature

      • High blood pressure levels

      • Hallucinations

      • Agitation

      • Extreme anxiety

    More serious signs of overdose include:

        • Irregular heart rhythm

        • Cardiac arrest

        • Seizure

        • Strok

      Can You Die from Cocaine Overdose?

      Although it is an uncommon outcome, a cocaine overdose can be fatal. The stimulant impacts the heart, the blood vessels, and the CNS (central nervous system).

      Consuming large amounts of cocaine can bring about the following life-threatening symptoms of a cocaine overdose:

          • Heart attack

          • Seizures

          • Respiratory failure

          • Stroke

          • Hyperthermia

          • Kidney failure

        The risk of fatal cocaine overdose increases in line with the amount of cocaine consumed, the purity of the substance, and the route of administration – smoking, snorting, or injecting.

        If you are a loved one is experiencing a cocaine overdose, you should seek immediate medical attention. Treatment often involves the administration of supportive care to manage symptoms effectively. Medications may be prescribed to reduce blood pressure and control seizures. Medical monitoring will mitigate oxygenation and breathing.

        An image of a man with his hands together looking down, as he contemplates the extreme side effects of cocaine use including potential cocaine overdose

        Cocaine Overdose Effects

        Ingesting cocaine causes your heart rate to increase, potentially triggering cardiovascular complications. High blood pressure levels caused by cocaine can also lead to severe health complications.

        The most reported physical and psychological cocaine overdose symptoms include:

            • Raised body temperature

            • Elevated heart rate

            • Nausea

            • Vomiting

            • Chest pains

            • Tremors

            • Anxiety

            • Panic attacks

            • Delirium

            • Paranoia

          How deadly is cocaine, then?

          How Much Cocaine Can Cause Overdose?

          NIDA reports that cocaine overdose is caused by someone taking enough of the substance for it to reach toxic levels in the system, prompting a serious adverse reaction within the body.

          Cocaine, then, poisons the system, and cocaine toxicity is not dictated by dosage alone. Some people have overdosed after taking just a few hundred milligrams of cocaine, while others have consumed several grams of the stimulant without triggering an overdose.

          How much cocaine it takes to overdose depends mainly on the individual and their susceptibility to the toxins in cocaine rather than a specific dose.

           How Long Does a Cocaine Overdose Last?

          The effects of a cocaine overdose can vary depending on the amount of the drug taken, the method of administration, and individual metabolism. The peak effects of cocaine typically occur within a few minutes to an hour after use, and the duration of these effects can last for several hours.

          In the case of a cocaine overdose, the symptoms can last for several hours or even days, depending on the severity of the overdose and the individual’s response to treatment.

          That said, be aware that the effects of cocaine use can bring about long-term consequences on the body, including damage to the heart, blood vessels, and brain. Seeking treatment for cocaine addiction and dependence is crucial to prevent further harm to the body and reduce the risk of overdose in the future.

          Treatment of Cocaine Overdose

          How to treat a cocaine overdose typically involves supportive care to manage symptoms and prevent complications. The specific treatment will depend on the severity of the overdose and the individual’s response to treatment.

          Some common treatments for an overdose of cocaine may include:

              • Monitoring: Your vital signs – heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen levels – will be closely monitored to ensure they are stable and that you are receiving adequate oxygen.

              • Medications: Depending on the symptoms, medications may be administered to control seizures, reduce blood pressure, and manage other symptoms associated with cocaine overdose.

              • Oxygen therapy: If you are encountering difficulty breathing or have low oxygen levels, you may be given oxygen therapy to improve your breathing.

              • IV (intravenous) fluids: IV fluids may be delivered to maintain hydration and electrolyte balance.

              • Psychiatric evaluation and treatment: If you are experiencing psychiatric symptoms like panic attacks or hallucinations, you may be evaluated by a mental health professional and treated accordingly.

            Cocaine overdose should be treated as a medical emergency. Treatment should only be administered by trained medical professionals in a clinical setting. After a cocaine overdose, you should engage in treatment for cocaine addiction and dependence to reduce the likelihood of subsequent overdoses and mitigate long-term health consequences.

            How to Stop a Cocaine Overdose

            The following risk factors are associated with cocaine overdose:

                • Any use of cocaine

                • Combining cocaine with alcohol, heroin, or other addictive substances

                • Co-occurring mental health disorders like depression or anxiety

                • Unstable home environment

                • Injecting cocaine intravenously

                • Injecting speedballs – a lethal combination of cocaine and heroin

              The best way to stop a cocaine overdose is to avoid using cocaine and to avoid mixing cocaine with other substances.

              What To Do for a Cocaine Overdose

              If you suspect that a loved one is overdosing on cocaine, call 911 immediately. Observe for any signs of high body temperature, anxiety, or seizures.

              After you call 911:

                  • Ensure that the person is awake and breathing.

                  • Lay the person on their side to reduce the likelihood of choking.

                  • Remain with the person until the medical team arrives.

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                Get Help for Cocaine Addiction at California Detox

                If you have developed an addiction to cocaine, we can help you recalibrate your life here at California Detox in Laguna Beach.

                While there are no medications to ease cocaine withdrawal, our supervised medical detox program will minimize the chance of complications or relapse disrupting your early recovery. After detox, you can move directly into one of these California Detox cocaine addiction treatment programs:

                    • Inpatient program (residential rehab)

                    • Partial hospitalization program

                    • Intensive outpatient program

                    • Remote rehab program

                    • Dual diagnosis treatment program (for co-occurring disorders)

                  All treatment programs offer personalized treatment that involves evidence-based interventions and holistic interventions, such as:

                      • Psychotherapy

                      • Medication-assisted treatment

                      • Group therapy

                      • Family therapy

                      • Individual counseling

                      • Holistic therapies

                      • Aftercare

                    To start living cocaine-free, call admissions today at 949.694.8305 for immediate assistance.


                    Cocaine toxicity refers to the harmful effects that occur when someone takes too much cocaine or is exposed to cocaine for a prolonged period of time. Some common symptoms of cocaine toxicity may include restlessness, agitation, increased heart rate, and blood pressure, arrhythmia (irregular heart rhythm), chest pain, difficulty breathing, nausea and vomiting, seizures, confusion and disorientation, panic attacks, hallucinations, profuse sweating, hyperthermia (elevated body temperature), and muscle rigidity. In severe cases, cocaine toxicity can trigger cardiac arrest, respiratory failure, stroke, and even death.
                    The amount of cocaine that can lead to an overdose can vary significantly depending on factors such as your body weight, tolerance to cocaine, route of administration, and the purity of the cocaine. NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse) reports that a cocaine overdose can occur with as little as 1 gram of cocaine. That said, cocaine overdose may occur with lower doses, especially if the cocaine is very pure or if it is used in combination with other substances.


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