Cocaine is most often sold as a white powder that can be ingested, snorted, or injected. Any given sample may contain a number of substances, making purity unpredictable.
Without a thorough knowledge of what is actually in your cocaine, there is no way to create a “safe” dose of cocaine or predict how much it would take to introduce toxic levels of the drug.
If your cocaine is laced with another stimulant drug or a synthetic opioid, such as fentanyl, even your first time with the smallest amount could lead to a cocaine overdose.
What Amount Of Cocaine May Lead To An Overdose?
There is no safe amount of cocaine. With that said, you can reduce your overdose risk by using fentanyl testing strips, avoiding repetitive doses, and not mixing cocaine with other substances.
While you cannot definitively know how much cocaine you have to use to cause an overdose, there are a number of factors that you can keep in mind to establish a safer use pattern.
Factors That Influence Risk Of Overdose From Cocaine Abuse
The unpredictability of cocaine overdose is linked to the long list of factors that influence the way cocaine use will affect your central nervous system and cardiovascular system.
These are some of the most important factors that you should keep in mind if you are using cocaine.
Method Of Abuse
Cocaine can be abused in a variety of ways. Some methods of abuse come with an increased risk of overdose when compared to other methods.
Common methods of cocaine abuse include oral ingestion, snorting, smoking, freebasing, injecting, and plugging.
Of these, intravenous cocaine use and plugging are the most likely to result in a cocaine overdose because they have a much faster initial onset and a higher bioavailability.
While there is no safe method of cocaine abuse, oral ingestion is the least likely to cause an overdose because of the way it is processed by your body before it finally reaches the brain.
Type Of Cocaine
Cocaine is sold as a powder, in crystalline form as crack cocaine, and as freebase.
Of the three, freebase is considered the most dangerous form of cocaine because it is essentially pure cocaine.
While powdered cocaine and crack cocaine may not present the same level of risk as freebase, they do have their own vulnerabilities.
Powdered cocaine is the most easily adulterated of the three. It can be mixed with virtually any white powder that replicates the appearance of real cocaine.
Crack cocaine is harder to adulterate once it has crystallized, but it is not immune to wide variations in purity.
Crack is generally thought to be more dangerous than powdered cocaine as a result of the method of abuse. Powdered cocaine is most often snorted, while crack is smoked.
With that said, powdered cocaine delivered via intravenous injection is far more risky.
Cutting Agents Within Cocaine
Powdered cocaine is often “cut” with numerous other substances at every stage of its distribution. Cutting agents in cocaine are generally household substances that resemble real cocaine.
The purpose of this process is to maximize profit by minimizing the percentage of the real drug without decreasing the price per unit.
Substances like corn starch, talcum powder, flour, laundry detergent, and sugar are all common cutting agents.
These substances may not be inherently dangerous. However, most were not designed to be used in the same way as cocaine.
Depending on the percentage and method of abuse, they may increase the risk of a life-threatening overdose.
Adulterants are similar to cutting agents in some ways. They are used to help increase the profitability of the product, but they are also intended to be active ingredients.
For example, cocaine might be cut with another drug like heroin or levamisole to enhance the effects of a cocaine that has been cut to a point where the impurities are noticeable.
These adulterants allow people to create drug combinations that mimic purer versions of cocaine at a much lower price per unit.
Unfortunately, many of the drugs used to adulterate cocaine come with a much higher risk of causing drug overdose deaths, especially when combined with other drugs.
What Are The Signs Of Cocaine Overdose?
Given the fact that it is practically impossible to eliminate the risk of overdose while using cocaine, it is vital that you recognize the signs of a cocaine overdose and get immediate help.
Cocaine overdose generally occurs in three stages.
Stage one can be hard to identify, as the symptoms of a cocaine overdose are similar to the side effects of cocaine use. However, nausea and blurred vision are two important warning signs.
Stage two is identifiable by difficulty breathing, chest pain, high blood pressure, elevated body temperature, and the onset of psychological symptoms, including cocaine-induced psychosis.
Stage three is associated with a high risk of cardiac arrest, heart attack, stroke, coma, and a loss of vital functions.
Fortunately, a cocaine overdose is highly treatable if you know how to recognize the symptoms and get immediate medical attention.
Treatment Options For Cocaine Addiction
Long-term substance abuse is associated with physical dependency, co-occurring mental health disorders, and brain damage.
The only way to completely avoid these risks and the risk of fatal overdose is to seek out professional treatment for your or your loved one’s drug use.
There are numerous, evidence-based treatment programs that can guide you through the withdrawal symptoms of cocaine detox and provide care through inpatient or outpatient services.
Find A Substance Use Disorder Treatment Center
To learn more about cocaine addiction treatment, call our helpline. We can help you locate a suitable drug addiction treatment provider in your area.Article Sources
- Academic Forensic Pathology
- National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
- National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)