Cocaine Overdose

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Cocaine is a powerful and illegal narcotic that is especially dangerous due to the life-threatening complications like stroke, heart attack, and seizure that cocaine overdose can cause.

A stimulant derived from the leaves of the coca plant, the cocaine high is powerful but short-lived.

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Cocaine is classified as a schedule II drug under the CSA (Controlled Substances Act). Like all schedule II substances, there are legitimate medical applications for cocaine, but it also carries a strong potential for abuse and addiction.

How does someone overdose on cocaine, then? 

Can You Overdose on Cocaine? 

When you smoke, snort, or inject cocaine, the substance triggers increased dopamine release in the pleasure centers of the brain. Attempting to recreate this high with repeated doses of cocaine can increase the risk of cocaine overdose. 

NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse) reports that cocaine overdose will occur if you ingest enough of the substance to raise blood concentration levels to the point of toxicity, causing an adverse physical reaction. When you overdose on cocaine, the drug poisons your system. 

While dosage is a contributory factor to cocaine overdose, it is not the only factor. Some reported cocaine overdoses involve very small doses of just a hundred milligrams, while other people manage to consume several grams of cocaine without overdosing. Toxicity depends on the person using the drug and their susceptibility to its toxins and toxic by-products. 

Another salient factor in the risk profile for cocaine overdose is the purity of the drug. The less adulterated the product, the less chance of experiencing a fatal overdose. 

If cocaine is mixed with other substances – especially alcohol or heroin – this also heightens the likelihood of a fatal overdose. 

An image of a stethoscope, symbolizing the medical attention required in the case of a cocaine overdose

Statistics on Cocaine Overdose

The most recent data from SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) shows that more than 5 million people in the U.S. used cocaine during the previous year. 

According to the same data, 1.3 million over-12s meet the criteria for cocaine use disorder, sometimes broadly classified as stimulant use disorder. 

NIDA reports that drug overdoses where cocaine is implicated have risen steadily from 54019 overdoses involving cocaine in 2014 to over 19,400 in 2020. This represents a significant percentage of the 23,837 deaths in 2020 attributable to stimulants, demonstrating the damaging nature of cocaine when it comes to overdose. 

Fortunately, CDC research shows that more than 60% of fatal overdoses showed evidence of at least one intervention opportunity. This means that familiarizing yourself with the signs of cocaine overdose could literally save a life. 

Cocaine Overdose Symptoms

If you use cocaine or you have a loved one who uses the substance, call 911 immediately in the event of a suspected overdose. 

Be alert for any of the following symptoms of cocaine overdose: 

  • Unremitting energy
  • Very high body temperature
  • Raised blood pressure levels
  • Confusion
  • Restlessness
  • Teeth grinding
  • Agitated movements

These are the most common physical indicators of a cocaine overdose: 

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Tremors
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Heavy perspiration
  • Incontinence
  • Chest pain
  • Blue hue to the skin
  • Chest pain
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizures

Look out, too, for any of these psychological markers of cocaine overdose:

  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Severe anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Delirium

In addition to calling for emergency medical assistance, there are some other important things you can do to mitigate a cocaine OD. 

Cocaine Overdose Treatment

If you suspect you are witnessing or experiencing a cocaine overdose, summon immediate medical care. 

After you call 911, perform the following steps:

  1. Gather the following information for the benefit of the emergency responders: age of person overdosing, amount of cocaine ingested, history of substance use, pre-existing health conditions, presence of any other addictive substances in the system.
  2. To reduce the chance of choking and to promote breathing, make sure the person is laid down on their side.
  3. Ensure there are no sharp objects around in the event of the person having a seizure and potentially inuring themselves.
  4. If the person appears overheated, apply some cold compresses.
  5. Stay with the person until the arrival of the emergency responders.

Remember, responding rapidly to a cocaine overdose could mean the difference between life and death. 

The emergency response team may continue to use the cooling method, reducing the core body temperature of the person overdosing to prevent the onset of hypothermia.

Cocaine overdose, unlike opioid overdose, has no antidote. A successful intervention does not attempt to reverse a cocaine overdose, but rather to treat its primary symptoms. 

Cocaine overdose treatment in a hospital setting normally begins with a sedative being administered – typically a benzodiazepine. This serves to reduce blood pressure levels and heart rate, and also to minimize the risk of heart attack and stroke.

An overdose on cocaine can strain and damage vital organs. It is vital not to overdose again, although this can be tough given the intensely addictive nature of the drug. Luckily, we can help you bounce back at our licensed beachside cocaine rehab. 

california beach representing heroin detox at california detox center.

California Detox’s Cocaine Rehab

Before engaging with treatment for cocaine addiction, you must first detox. Cocaine detox usually lasts for just a few days, although more several stimulant use disorders might involve withdrawal symptoms that persist for a week. Benefit from around-the-clock clinical and emotional care at our medical detox center and prepare yourself for ongoing treatment. 

Here at California Detox, we offer inpatient rehab, outpatient rehab, and virtual rehab. This allows you to choose a treatment program offering the support and structure you need to combat cocaine addiction. 

Those with more severe addictions, dual diagnosis (cocaine addiction with co-occurring mental health disorder), and those with volatile home environments typically find residential rehab is most appropriate. 

Anyone with a busy schedule and a milder addiction will likely find an outpatient program is suitable, whether a traditional outpatient treatment, an IOP (intensive outpatient program), or a PHP (partial hospitalization programs).

There are no medications currently approved by the FDA for the treatment of cocaine addiction. 

SAMHSA recommends behavioral interventions like psychotherapy (CBT or DBT) and contingency management for cocaine addiction treatment. 

Don’t let the lack of medications stop you from engaging with cocaine addiction treatment. We are here to help you from detox to discharge and beyond. Get immediate assistance by calling 949.567.8790 today.


The amount of cocaine that would cause an overdose will be different for everyone and will depend on a number of things including weight, tolerance level, additional substances of abuse, and more.
The best thing you can do in the case of a cocaine overdose is reach out to emergency services to get help as soon as possible.


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