How to Avoid Having an Overdose on Cocaine

Medically Reviewed

A drug overdose can happen any time someone uses any type of illicit substance. There are some drugs, however, that have a lower threshold when it comes to overdose based on toxicity. Illicit drugs like cocaine carry a few immediate problems in that you never know if what you are getting is actually cocaine, and it is impossible to measure a safe dose.

The consumption of illegal drugs is a game of Russian roulette, except the difference is you may not die instantly. An overdose can be extremely painful, and if the user survives, the person can have long-term damage attributed to use. This can steal life away from someone all for a simple night of fun.

An overdose can be described as any time you consume too much of a given drug. An overdose is defined as what happens when a toxic amount of a drug, or combination of drugs overwhelms the body. It’s possible for this to happen with various substances such as Tylenol to caffeine. When someone overdoses on stimulants such as methamphetamine, cocaine, or ecstasy, it raises the heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature. It also increases the speed of breathing significantly. All of these factors can lead to seizures, strokes, heart attacks, and, in some cases, death.

There are several factors that can determine when you use a drug how you could possibly react. These factors include height, weight, hydration, tolerance levels, age, mental health, and someone’s physical health. These experiences will vary from one person to another, and it would be irresponsible to say there is a universal formula to avoid having an overdose on cocaine. The reality of the matter is that there are so many underlying factors that it’s next to impossible to gauge these types of scenarios.

The bulletproof way to avoid an overdose, however, is not to consume illegal substances. That is not the case, unfortunately, and while we live in a world where drugs are popularized through television shows and music, these problems will continue to plague our society. The most that can be done is to warn about the dangers and hope people heed the warnings. An overdose can happen intentionally or on accident, but it stems from medical or recreational use.

Overdoses can occur from someone who uses the drug regularly and develops a tolerance that requires them to increase their dose. This can also happen if a batch of drugs the user purchases is purer than what they’ve grown accustomed to. Either way, there are ways to avoid an overdose.

Avoiding A Cocaine Overdose

Cocaine is an illegal stimulant that has the potential to be addictive. Those who take cocaine can experience intense side effects for the short-term and long-term. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) recently released a report with data showing that cocaine-related overdose deaths increased from 6,784 in 2015 to an astonishing 10,375 in 2016. According to data, an estimated 14,556 died from cocaine overdose in 2017. From 2010 to 2017, this increased at a rate of 3.5-fold in the total number of deaths.

More recently, a new trend has begun to emerge when it comes to the drug. Fentanyl-laced cocaine has become a threat, and in 2016, 37 percent of cocaine-related overdose deaths in New York City involved fentanyl. Connecticut also recorded 143 of these fatalities with fentanyl in the cocaine.

The best way to avoid cocaine overdose is not to use the drug at all. It’s hard to pinpoint the exact amount that someone will overdose on. As mentioned earlier, there are several factors that can influence the outcome. Chronic users develop tolerances that require a higher dose, while someone who has never tried it will need much less to achieve the same effect.

There have been other studies that show cocaine has a lethal dose that is 15 times the effective dose. This translates into not needing a lot for a toxic dose. Seventy-four percent of cocaine-related fatalities have yielded positive results for polydrug use with substances like alcohol.

If someone does overdose on cocaine, they will exhibit these symptoms:

  • Chest pain
  • Seizures
  • Extreme anxiety or panic
  • Tremors
  • Hallucinations
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Kidney failure
  • Stroke

A seizure or convulsion can occur within two to three minutes of cocaine ingestion, and the person can die in as little as 30 minutes. If you suspect that you or a friend has overdosed on cocaine, do not hesitate to call 911. Contacting emergency services can mean the difference between life, long-term damage, or death.

Effects of Cocaine

Short Term

Cocaine causes a short-lived but intense high producing euphoria, surges of energy, increased alertness, and rapid talking. The duration of a cocaine high is short and requires the user to continue taking more to feel the drug’s potent effects. When users begin to come down from the cocaine high, it is followed by intense depression, edginess, and a craving for more of the drug. Those who use the drug don’t sleep well and can’t eat. This suppression of the appetite may result in weight loss. Users also will experience increased heart rate, muscle spasms, and convulsions. This raises the risk of heart attack, stroke, seizure, or respiratory failure, resulting in death.

Long Term

In many cases, chronic cocaine users gradually develop a higher tolerance, and this will require larger amounts to achieve the desired effect. Prolonged use can cause sleep deprivation, loss of appetite, and psychosis that can lead to larger-than-life hallucinations. This can, in turn, lead to permanent damage to the blood vessels of the heart and brain. The depression associated with cocaine abuse long-term can also be intense enough to drive the person to suicide.

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