In the U.S. there are about 1.5 million current cocaine users aged 12 or older. Adults 18-25 years old have a higher rate of current use than any other group by age, with 1.4% of young adults reporting cocaine use within the past month. (1) If you or someone you know uses cocaine, you may have wondered about the potential for overdose. The fact is that cocaine overdose is a very real danger. Cocaine is a powerful central nervous system stimulant. Whether it is snorted, smoked, or injected, the risk of overdose and even death is real. In fact, almost 15,000 people a year in the U.S. die as a result of a cocaine overdose. (2)
Here are some signs of cocaine overdose to watch for:
Physical symptoms may include:
- Chest pain
- Breathing problems
- Nausea and stomach cramps
- Confusion, seizures, tremors
- Increased sweating, body temperature, or heart rate
Psychological symptoms can include:
- Extreme nervousness or anxiety
- Panic attacks
Cocaine Overdose May Cause Heart Attack
Cocaine overdose can often lead to a heart attack, which is one of the most common causes of death in a cocaine overdose. Other fatal consequences may include stroke or seizure. Cocaine is obviously especially risky for anyone who already suffers from heart disease or a heart condition of any kind. Someone who is predisposed to seizures can be at exceptional risk too.
Mixing Cocaine with Other Substances
Cocaine is often consumed with alcohol or other central nervous system depressants like opioids or benzodiazepines. These can actually increase the risk of fatality contrary to what some believe. There is a twofold risk. The first major risk factor comes from the fact that the effects of a CNS depressant can make a person less aware of some of the cocaine’s effects. This can prompt them to use even more than they might ordinarily. The second major factor comes from the interaction of cocaine with other substances in the body. The combination of cocaine and alcohol is both the most common and perhaps one of the most dangerous. When alcohol and cocaine combine in the body, they form a third chemical called cocaethylene, which extends the duration of cocaine euphoria, but is also incredibly toxic to the body. The psychoactive nature of cocaethylene didn’t even begin to be studied until the 1990s. (3)
It’s no mystery that cocaine use is dangerous. Some people find a false sense of security if they begin a cocaine habit that isn’t daily in the beginning. Perhaps they only use it on weekends. They never use it alone. They have heard that there aren’t any “real” physical withdrawal symptoms, like alcohol or opiates. These are all incredibly dangerous misconceptions that have lead many people to the gates of delirium and even death. Cocaine use is serious. Cocaine addiction costs people their livelihoods, their families, and sometimes even their lives.
If you or someone you know is struggling with cocaine use, don’t wait. It is never too soon to seek help for yourself or someone else. Millions of people have recovered from cocaine addiction successfully. You are welcome to contact us to discuss the treatment options for cocaine addiction or ask any questions you may have about recovery.