Everything in moderation is what we are told growing up. A candy bar here and there before dinner is okay, and watching TV for a couple of hours every now and then is perfectly healthy. So, using cocaine on occasion should be okay, right? But what happens if when you use cocaine, you accidentally take too much? Or worse: what happens if you mix it with alcohol or another substance? Without realizing it, you just put yourself at risk for a cocaine overdose.
Of the 1,305 deaths from cocaine in 2021, 86% were ruled as accidental. At Clean Recovery Centers, our goal is to help prevent these overdoses from happening. Let’s take a look at the causes and risk factors of cocaine overdose.
What Is a Cocaine Overdose
A cocaine overdose occurs when there is too much cocaine in the body and it gets overwhelmed. While substances such as opioids or alcohol cause overdoses in the brain, cocaine overdoses primarily affect the heart. That makes overdosing especially dangerous and potentially life-threatening.
Early Warning Signs of a Potential Cocaine Overdose
It is important to note that cocaine is usually used in “binging” sessions. This is because the “high” of cocaine only lasts around 15-30 minutes, causing those who use it to do so in abundance. If you or someone you love is binging on cocaine, a potential overdose could be right around the corner.
Some of the first signs that can be noticeable in a potential overdose include breathing and heart rate changes. Rapid heart rate and shallow breathing are indicators that the body is not tolerating the amount of cocaine in the system. It is important to monitor these symptoms for progression.
Signs & Symptoms of Cocaine Overdose
The signs of cocaine overdose may be masked by behaviors. Cocaine works by not allowing dopamine to leave the brain, creating a surplus of this reward chemical. The chemical imbalance can lead to more unpredictable actions and risky behaviors. Rapid heart rate may be ignored in order to keep doing what the person wants. The most common symptoms of cocaine overdose include:
- Increase body temperature
- Profuse sweating
- Chest pain
- Nausea or vomiting
Dangers of an Overdose
If an overdose is ignored, the dangers become life-threatening. Continued cocaine use can stop the heart, leading to coma and death. This is especially true for those who have mixed substances, such as cocaine and alcohol. Because alcohol is a depressant, the person may feel like the two have canceled each other out and continue to use them.
In the Event of an Overdose
If an overdose is suspected, do not hesitate to seek medical attention. Cocaine can lead to heart attacks and strokes, and there is no medication to administer that will counteract the effects. Remain calm to help keep the person as relaxed as possible while waiting for help to arrive.
Who Is at Risk of a Cocaine Overdose?
Anyone who uses cocaine is at risk for overdose as even the first time can cause it. Teens are at higher risk for developing cocaine dependence. The brain is not fully developed in the teen years, and neural pathways can be learned quicker than in adults. Engaging in risky or experimental behaviors is also common among teens.
Those who are genetically predisposed to have a heart condition are at risk for cocaine overdose. Even if a heart condition is not present, prolonged cocaine use can cause it to appear sooner or cause more damage than just the condition alone. The heart is not capable of muscle regeneration, so any damage done by cocaine will be irreversible. Cocaine can cause damage to other organs along with the heart.
Risk Factors for Cocaine Overdose
Some risk factors for cocaine overdose include:
- Undiagnosed mental health conditions
- Genetic predisposition for risky behaviors
- Chaotic upbringing or home life
- Using cocaine from an early age
- Having physical health concerns such as high blood pressure
- Using cocaine with other substances
Understanding the Common Signs of Cocaine Overdose
The most common sign of cocaine overdose is chest pain, often seen with rapid or shallow breathing. By recognizing this sign as a potential for overdose and seeking help, the rate of fatal overdoses can decrease. Even if the person doesn’t think they need help, encourage them to get checked out. Knowing the cocaine timeline within the body can arm you with the knowledge to help medical professionals provide treatment.
What Are the Treatment Options for Cocaine
Cocaine can wreak havoc on the mind and body. If you or someone you love is managing a cocaine use disorder, help is not far away. At Clean Recovery Centers, we have helped hundreds of our clients get clean, live clean, and stay clean. Our cocaine addiction treatment includes inpatient, residential, and outpatient services. An initial assessment will be done to see which option will work best.
While a medical detox is not always necessary for cocaine, the staff at Clean Recovery Centers can address any physical and mental concerns. Physical withdrawal symptoms can be managed with medications. The key is to have a strong support system, which can begin in group therapy at Clean Recovery Centers. Cocaine cravings can last months and even years, and having people to talk to can make a big difference in preventing relapse.
Residential / Inpatient Rehab Services
There are two stages to our residential treatment program.
Residential One – This is part of phase one of the treatment program. Individuals are in a 24-hour, 7-days-a-week, live-in environment. Medical support is available if needed, but the main focus is on individual, group, and family therapy. The length of stay in this treatment phase is 3-4 weeks.
Residential Two – This is where the transition to phase two happens. Phase two is the action phase, where individuals confront where the addiction started and prepare themselves for independent recovery. At Clean Recovery Centers, this step is referred to as day/night treatment, or DNT. While most clients choose to live in community housing on-site for this phase, it is not required. The program is a minimum of 30 hours of services per week. The four main focuses of DNT include experiential processes, defense mechanism identification, belief system exploration, and symbolic integration. All of these components are to help transition core beliefs and develop balance to a clean life. This phase of treatment typically lasts 2-3 weeks.
Mental Health Path – For those who have been diagnosed with a mental health condition during phase one, the treatment path can change to accommodate those needs first. Clients go into a residential II setting and receive specific treatment for their diagnosis as well as education and medication management.
Outpatient Rehab Services
Phase Three of the treatment process is the maintenance stage. At Clean Recovery Centers, we have two versions of outpatient services, intensive outpatient and outpatient. For intensive outpatient, or IOP, the client can choose to reside in a 24/7 monitored transitional living on-site or at home. The program is 9 hours per week minimum and continues with individual counseling. Outpatient is for those living at home or in sober living off-site and is 2 hours per week. Both services build on the skills learned in inpatient treatment and therapies to continue on the path to living heroin free. The length of stay for phase three is around 6-8 weeks.
If you or someone you love is at risk for a cocaine overdose, it’s not too late to seek help. The compassionate and knowledgeable staff at Clean Recovery Centers is here to address addiction where it began and build a custom path to recovery. Call us today at (888) 330-2532 to learn more about our unique treatment program and facility offerings.
FAQs About Cocaine Overdose
What is cocaine overdose?
Cocaine overdose occurs when too much has been ingested and the body cannot function properly. The main organ affected is the heart.
Who is at risk of a cocaine overdose?
Cocaine overdose can happen to anyone at any time no matter the length of use. Those who have pre-existing heart conditions are more susceptible to overdose. Those who have also quit using cocaine altogether and go back to using are at risk for an overdose because their body can no longer withstand the same amount they were using before.