Cocaine Overdose

Cocaine Overdose is a topic I became familiar with almost 30 years ago although I didn't know it. I dated someone who used cocaine frequently, but many people my age were using drugs and I never recognized it as addiction, just "what everyone was doing".

I never witnessed or even heard of anyone experiencing a cocaine overdose. All those years ago, when my boyfriend suddenly had chest pains and we rushed him to the emergency room, I believe I recall the doctors saying it was anxiety. Maybe that's just how we viewed it. I'm not sure. I do remember that the experience was enough to make my boyfriend stop using cocaine permanently. That experience had put the fear of death in his mind.

I also don't recall him having any symptoms of cocaine withdrawal. He was able to stop "cold turkey" without any cocaine addiction treatment, and it didn't seem like a big deal at all back then. 

Almost 30 years later, I am having a different experience with a loved one and cocaine use. I struggle to understand the concept of cocaine addiction or addiction of any kind for that matter. How do you distinguish between someone who uses cocaine frequently and someone who has a cocaine addiction? Is there a difference?

What I do know is that cocaine is an incredibly addictive drug with very dangerous consequences. It causes its effects by increasing the level of dopamine in the brain. The excess dopamine causes a feeling of euphoria.

The feeling of increased energy, decreased fatigue, and increased mental alertness vary in intensity and duration depending on how the drug is administered.

It is taken in three different ways: snorting, injecting, and smoking. One method is no safer than the other. All three can lead to addiction, severe health problems, including HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases, and can result in death.

Also, regardless of the method of administration, cocaine is a relatively short-acting drug. In order to stay high, a cocaine user has to take the drug again and again. This often leads to binge behavior. Binge usage of cocaine is very dangerous. It can cause irritability, restlessness, anxiety, and paranoia. A person may experience a paranoid psychosis, where the user may experience auditory hallucinations, and have a hard time discerning reality from these hallucinations. If cocaine is used repeatedly, long-term changes can occur in the brain, which can lead to cocaine addiction. Tolerance also develops - as the cocaine is used more often, it requires higher dosages to achieve the high the user wants. Of course, the higher the dosage and the more frequent the usage, the greater the risk of serious adverse affects.


The very physiological reactions that make users enjoy cocaine are the same ones that make the drug so dangerous. Blood vessels are constricted, pupils dilate, blood pressure rises, heart rate rises, and body temperature increases. These cardiovascular and cerebrovascular changes are most often the cause of death in people who die as a direct result of cocaine use, causing heart attacks, strokes, or seizures, followed by respiratory arrest.

Treatment for a cocaine overdose: CALL 911! GET MEDICAL HELP! Trying to treat at home can be fatal!

An Emergency Room Staff Can:

- Maintain the airway 
- Provide breathing assistance mechanically 
- Prevent or treat coma, heart attacks, or seizures
- Administer medications for agitation or psychosis 
- Treat high blood pressure, rapid heart rate, abnormal heart rhythm 

If the cocaine overdose has occurred by ingesting cocaine, the stomach can be pumped and charcoal given to reduce further absorption.

It's very important to know that even the first time cocaine is used or even when cocaine has been used regularly, but not in high dosages, you can still experience life-threatening heart and brain problems.

In addition, using cocaine while drinking alcohol results in a very dangerous additive effect. The two substances are combined by the liver to produce a substance called cocaethylene, which intensifies the euphoric effects of cocaine, but is associated with a greater risk of sudden death. In fact, the most drug-related deaths are due to people mixing alcohol and cocaine at the same time.

If you or someone you know is in danger of a cocaine overdose, seek medical assistance right away. Cocaine usage is a very dangerous activity. If you cannot stop using and suspect you or a loved one may have a cocaine addiction, please seek cocaine addiction treatment immediately. 

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