A cocaine overdose can be hard to detect in its initial stages. The earliest signs mimic the typical effects of cocaine drug use but often appear as more exaggerated versions.
This applies to both the physical and psychological symptoms of cocaine overdose.
While they may begin as a relatively mild exaggeration of the side effects of cocaine addiction, these symptoms can quickly escalate to cause potentially life-threatening effects.
What Are The Physical Symptoms Of Cocaine Overdose?
The physical symptoms of cocaine overdose include headache, irregular heart rate, high blood pressure, difficulty breathing, nausea, and increased body temperature.
With the exception of respiratory difficulties and fever, many of these signs are very similar to what you would normally experience while snorting cocaine.
Are There Mental Symptoms Of Cocaine Overdose?
Fortunately, the mental signs of a cocaine overdose are a little easier to detect. The downside is that they aren’t often apparent until the later stages of overdose.
The normal psychological side effects of cocaine use include increased energy and sociability.
A cocaine overdose over-stimulates the same pathways that cause those changes, resulting in less desirable psychological effects.
These effects include anxiety, paranoia, and even cocaine-induced psychosis. The last effect can mimic the symptoms of schizophrenia, complete with auditory and tactile hallucinations.
The Three Stages Of Cocaine Overdose
You cannot know when a cocaine overdose will occur.
Much of the cocaine in the United States is mixed with synthetic opioids like fentanyl, and variations in purity make identifying a safe amount of cocaine impossible.
If you are using cocaine or are around people who are using cocaine, recognizing the signs and stages of a drug overdose could help you to save someone’s life.
The first stage of cocaine overdose is relatively mild. You may notice the onset of a cocaine headache along with some nausea, dizziness, and blurred vision.
These symptoms can quickly progress to include a noticeable increase in respiration rate. In some cases, you may notice an uncontrollable twitch as a result of the stimulant drug.
Unfortunately, the psychological symptoms of the first stage of overdose may make it difficult for you to get medical care, as you will likely begin to experience paranoia and confusion.
The second stage of cocaine overdose can progress rapidly as the drug surpasses toxic levels.
You may develop a high body temperature as well as irregular heart rhythm, chest pain, seizures, and a loss of bladder control.
At the same time, the psychological symptoms will continue to develop as the cocaine affects your central nervous system, and you may begin to hallucinate due to brain damage.
If someone near you is experiencing any of these symptoms, it is imperative that you contact emergency medical services, and do what you can to keep the person contained.
While cocaine-induced psychosis is not normally associated with violent outbursts, the hallucinations may cause the affected person to inadvertently hurt themselves or someone else.
The third stage of cocaine overdose is potentially fatal, and you want to make sure that anyone experiencing a cocaine overdose is already in the hospital at this point.
In the third stage, you’re vulnerable to cardiac arrest, coma, respiratory failure, and a loss of vital functions. Without medical intervention, cocaine overdose deaths can and do occur.
How Cocaine Overdose Is Treated
If you or a loved one is rushed to the emergency department as a result of cocaine toxicity, the first step is going to be stabilization.
The healthcare providers assigned to your care will directly treat your clinical symptoms following the “ABCDE” (airway, breathing, circulation, disability, exposure) approach.
In the case of a potential cocaine overdose, your medical professional’s first priority will be to address your respiratory and cardiovascular symptoms to prevent heart attack and death.
If you are too agitated to treat due to the psychological symptoms of cocaine overdose, you may be treated with benzodiazepines and antipsychotics as a form of sedation.
While there is a potential for permanent damage and even death, cocaine toxicity can usually be treated successfully as long as you receive prompt medical attention.
Follow-Up Treatment Options For Cocaine Addiction
Ultimately, the best way to avoid cocaine overdose is to quit using cocaine.
The good news is that there are a number of different treatment centers available that can help you get through detox and address the mental health effects of cocaine abuse.
Evidence-based treatment programs often combine behavioral therapy, support groups, and dual diagnosis treatment to create a comprehensive treatment plan to address your cocaine addiction.
These cocaine addiction treatment programs are available through inpatient and outpatient services to provide you with the most flexible approach to addiction care.
Find Substance Use Disorder Treatment Today
Treatment is available, and help is just a phone call away. If you or a loved one needs help with a cocaine addiction, call our helpline today.Article Sources
- International Journal of General Medicine
- National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
- National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)