Earlier this year, police in Gila Bend (a small town near Phoenix) found nearly 150 pounds of cocaine at a traffic stop. Cocaine continues to be a profitable substance, and many develop a dependence on cocaine. Unfortunately, this can lead to cocaine overdose, resulting in heart attack, seizures, and stroke. Cocaine overdose may be scary, but cocaine overdose treatment can help individuals who struggle with cocaine use find healing and recovery.
What Is a Cocaine Overdose?
Cocaine is a stimulant derived from the coca plant. This plant has been used as a stimulant in South America for 4,000 years. Stimulants are substances that speed up messages between the brain and body. Caffeine and ginseng are examples of legal stimulants commonly used by people to get an energy boost for their day. Cocaine is a powerful stimulant that can cause a person’s brain and body to become dangerously overstimulated. The overstimulation a person experiences during cocaine overdose can have serious effects such as:
- Irregular heartbeat
- Difficulty breathing
- Heart attack
Early Warning Signs of a Potential Cocaine Overdose
If someone you care about struggles with cocaine use, you may wonder how you can recognize an overdose. Early warning signs of cocaine overdose are the results of a person’s body and mind being overstimulated. You might notice that they have hand tremors or are sweating more than usual. They may seem to have an excessive amount of energy. Sometimes individuals become irritable or confused due to cocaine overdose.
The effects of cocaine come quickly after use. Many who use cocaine fall into a pattern of gradually increasing their dose to achieve the same euphoric effects and energy boost of their initial cocaine use. This increase leads a person to consume too much cocaine and experience an overdose.
Signs & Symptoms of Cocaine Overdose
Cocaine overdose happens for three reasons. The first is that a person takes too much cocaine or a more concentrated dose of cocaine than they are used to. The second reason is they use cocaine during hot weather. This is due to dehydration. Finally, using cocaine alongside other substances can increase the chances of overdose.
A person using cocaine will display symptoms such as:
- Visible excitement
- Excessive talking
- Restless behavior
- Muscle tremors
- Enlarged pupils that don’t respond to light
- Increased blood pressure
- Pale skin
- Excessive sweating
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The Dangers of an Overdose
Cocaine overdose can be fatal. This is because a person’s bodily functions are sped up to a dangerous level because of the stimulant. In this condition, a person can experience severe confusion, making it difficult to remain aware of their surroundings. In many cases, a person experiencing a cocaine overdose will become incontinent. In addition, a person amid a cocaine overdose can be overcome by seizures. Due to lack of oxygen, the person may display blue skin. Stroke or heart attack often happens during a cocaine overdose.
What to Do in the Event of an Overdose
If someone in your presence has overdosed, the first thing you should do is call 911. Good Samaritan Laws state that you can not be prosecuted for possession if you call for help to save a friend, so there’s no need to be afraid of legal repercussions. e. After doing this, you should prioritize keeping the person awake. This may involve physical touch or asking questions that the person can answer. If the person does pass out, make sure to turn them on their side. This prevents them from choking if they vomit while unconscious. Be sure to follow directions given by 911 while you wait for help to arrive. Finally, if needed and if qualified, perform CPR or ask someone qualified to perform CPR.
Who Is at Risk of a Cocaine Overdose?
Anyone who uses cocaine is at risk for an overdose. Cocaine is a powerful stimulant. If a person takes too much, even if it is their first time, overdose is possible. Overdose depends on many factors. A person’s tolerance to cocaine is one of the primary factors determining overdose. Individuals with a high tolerance risk overdose because of their increased dosage. The purity of the substance can also play a factor. Finally, taking cocaine with other substances can cause unpredictable results and increase the likelihood of overdose. Sometimes people do this purposefully to feel the effects of multiple substances. However, often a substance is unknowingly mixed with another substance. Fentanyl is commonly combined with other substances, which increases the risk of overdose and death. Using fentanyl test strips can inform a person if the substance is free from fentanyl.
Risk Factors for Cocaine Overdose
Anyone who uses cocaine is at risk for overdose. There are several risk factors for cocaine use. Substance use disorder can not be attributed to one cause. Multiple factors cause a person to develop cocaine dependence Family history is one factor. If you have close family who are involved in cocaine use, you will likely be involved in cocaine use.
Similarly, your social group will influence cocaine use. No single factor causes cocaine use, but some factors contribute to it. These factors include:
- Peer pressure
- Mental health conditions
Understanding the Common Signs of Cocaine Overdose
If you suspect someone you love has used and potentially overdosed on cocaine, pay close attention to their behavior. If they have a lot of energy, seem to be talking excessively, are anxious, or agitated, they may be overdosing. You will also likely notice redness, shaking, and enlarged pupils. If you notice these symptoms, you should call for help immediately so they can get the support they need to survive their overdose.
Long-Term Cocaine Use Effects
When a person uses cocaine over a long period, they will be affected in many ways. One way is that a person’s brain becomes less sensitive to natural reinforcers. This means activities that once brought happiness may no longer have the effect they once did. Along with this, the brain becomes more sensitive to stress, meaning a person may feel extreme negative moods when not using cocaine.
Regular use causes a person’s tolerance to cocaine to increase. This means a person will need a higher dose to achieve the same effects as a smaller dose once provided. In addition, when not using cocaine, long-term users will likely experience withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety or shaking.
Different methods of cocaine use can produce different long-term effects. For example, those who snort cocaine can lose their sense of smell, experience frequent nosebleeds, encounter difficulty swallowing, experience chronic hoarseness, and suffer from a chronically inflamed, runny nose. Smoking cocaine causes long-term lung damage. Smoking can also worsen symptoms for individuals with asthma.
Long-term cocaine injection produces scars on a person in the areas where they inject cocaine. These scars are commonly called track marks. Individuals who share needles are at risk of contracting HIV and other infectious diseases. Individuals who use needles are also at risk for allergic reactions to additives in cocaine. These reactions can result in death.
Long-term cocaine use can make a person more likely to experience neurological problems such as stroke or seizure. Bleeding in the brain and bulges in the cerebral blood vessels are also more common among individuals who use cocaine. Furthermore, years of cocaine use can contribute to the development of Parkinson's disease. In addition, general cognitive functioning such as memory or decision making is decreased after long-term cocaine use.
What Are the Treatment Options for Cocaine?
Cocaine treatment typically starts with a period of detox. During detox, a person goes through withdrawal symptoms with the assistance of trained staff in a licensed facility. Withdrawal symptoms are symptoms a person experiences when they end substance use. These symptoms are present because a person’s body has adjusted to the presence of a substance and needs to readjust to the absence of the substance. Cocaine withdrawal symptoms include:
Withdrawal from cocaine is not life-threatening, but for best results, you should withdraw at a detox facility where they can treat your symptoms and make you more comfortable. Also, it is more difficult to relapse in the detox facility.
After detox, residential treatment helps a person continue their recovery journey. Residential treatment is highly structured and involves participating in therapy designed to help a person address the root causes of their substance use while living temporarily at a treatment center. In addition, people in residential treatment become educated about recovery techniques that will help them transition back to their lives successfully. Inpatient treatment often includes participation in support groups that foster community and connection among individuals in recovery.
Outpatient treatment is usually a step down from residential treatment. In outpatient treatment, a person lives at home but continues to receive therapeutic treatments at a treatment center. These individuals will do all of their treatments in an outpatient setting. Outpatient treatment typically features the same therapeutic options as inpatient treatment but allows individuals to continue their lives at home.
Pinnacle Peak Recovery Center offers a wide range of treatment options to help you or your loved one recover from cocaine use disorder. You don’t need to recover alone. Pinnacle Peak is here to help. For more information about our treatment options, call us today at 866-377-4761
Frequently Asked Questions About Cocaine Overdose
What Kind of Drug is Cocaine?
Cocaine is a powerful stimulant. This means cocaine will speed up a person’s natural bodily functions. Many people use stimulants regularly, such as the caffeine found in your morning coffee or cup of tea. However, cocaine is a powerful stimulant that can cause serious problems when misused.
Does Cocaine Have a Medical Use?
Cocaine can be used as a local anesthetic to eliminate pain during surgery. In this form, cocaine is applied topically. This anesthetic is only used under the supervision of a medical professional.
How is Cocaine Used?
Cocaine is primarily administered orally, intranasally, intravenously, or by inhalation. During intranasal use, cocaine is snorted and absorbed into the bloodstream through nasal tissue. Oral use involves cocaine being rubbed on a person’s gums. Intravenous cocaine use consists of the use of needles to inject cocaine. Finally, inhalation means that a person smokes cocaine.
How Long Does Cocaine Stay in a Person’s System?
Cocaine will stay in a person’s system an average of one to four days after use. However, this number varies based on factors such as the amount of cocaine used, how often a person uses cocaine, the method of cocaine use, the quality of the cocaine, a person’s size, and if other substances are being used in conjunction with cocaine.