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Cocaine Overdose Treatment

How to Get Help for Cocaine Overdose

Cocaine has a reputation as a good-time party drug until cocaine addiction takes over. An overdose can be deadly. Would you recognize the symptoms of an overdose, or even know what to do if it were happening in right in front of you? Hopefully, that will never happen to you or someone you care about. But, knowing more about cocaine overdose treatment and how to handle the situation could save a life.

What Are The Signs of a Cocaine Overdose?

man speaks to therapist at cocaine overdose treatment centerThe signs of a cocaine overdose can range from mild to severe, and they can appear suddenly. You can die from a cocaine overdose within 2 – 3 minutes after experiencing a seizure. That makes getting medical help as soon as possible an imperative.

Cocaine overdose symptoms include:

  • Irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmias)
  • Rise in heart rate (severe tachycardia)
  • Dangerously high blood pressure and body temperature
  • Severe anxiety and confusion
  • Sweating
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Nausea
  • Extreme irritability or agitation
  • Tremors
  • Psychosis and paranoia
  • Seizures
  • Stroke

Those who have lived through an overdose report feeling like their entire body was trembling, experiencing blurred vision and confusion, and having severe anxiety that bordered on panic. Always seek immediate medical attention if you believe that you are experiencing an overdose on cocaine. Call 911 right away if you are showing signs of an overdose. Paramedics will be able to try and keep you calm and stabilized until you can reach the emergency room.

Cocaine Overdose Treatment

Effective cocaine overdose treatment requires immediate medical attention. Death normally occurs as a result of seizures, cardiac arrhythmia, or respiratory failure. However, there have been cases reported of cocaine overdose death attributed to kidney failure, hypothermia, brain hemorrhage, and stroke.

Unlike opiates, there is no medication that can reverse an overdose of cocaine. The best doctors can do is try to prevent more serious consequences like heart attack, stroke, and seizures by lowering body temperature and other measures. The heart, lungs, and brain are most vulnerable during an overdose. In order to assess the extent of medical trauma, emergency teams may order chest X-rays, electrocardiograms, and CT scans.

Additionally, patients may be given IV fluids to guard against dehydration, given medications to control anxiety, high blood pressure, and nausea. In extreme cases, they may be put on a respirator until they can breathe normally on their own again. These measures will usually continue until all of the cocaine has left the person’s system and their vital signs are stable again.

Depending on the severity of the overdose and subsequent health issues, hospitalization can range from a few hours spent in the emergency room to several days of hospitalization.

An overdose involving cocaine can never be treated at home. It requires immediate emergency medical care. A change in how law enforcement and doctors deal with overdoses, in addition to new “Good Samaritan” laws should lessen the fear of seeking help because of possible legal repercussions.

Because the half-life of cocaine is shorter than many drugs, surviving an overdose offers a good chance of recovery. That is unless it is accompanied by severe side-effects due to stroke or brain hemorrhage. In those cases, there may be a long-term recovery ahead. If the overdose resulted in respiratory failure, there is an added possibility of mild to severe brain damage from lack of oxygen.

How Much Cocaine Does it Take to Overdose?

Several variables determine the amount of cocaine needed to cause an overdose. One is the purity of the cocaine, but it also depends on the amount taken the length of use. Additionally, the general health and tolerance level of the user affects the situation.

Less than a gram of high purity cocaine can lead to an overdose in someone who is in had general health or has little experience with the drug. On the other hand, someone who has been using for a long time and has a high tolerance for coke can consume several grams during a binge. When injected, the chances of overdose increase dramatically compared to snorting or smoking.

One agency created a chart of lethal dosages by gram when compared to the weight of the individual. According to the company, cocaine can become toxic and cause death in a person weighing 150 pounds after consuming 6g. It would take 7g for a person weighing 175 pounds to overdose. 8g would need to be consumed by someone weighing 200 pounds.

That calculation is based on lab testing with mice that measured the lethal dosage as 96 mg per kilogram of body weight. This isn’t a definitive answer by any means. Other studies put the lethal dosage at 5 times the effective dosage, which means the typical amount taken when using cocaine.

Cocaine Overdose Statistics

While drugs like opiates and meth have taken over the headlines over the past decade or so, cocaine has never quite disappeared from the scene. In fact, deaths due to cocaine overdose have actually increased in the wake of the opioid crisis. During the period of a CDC study on drug deaths in America, cocaine-related overdose deaths increased from 3,822 in 1999 to 13,942 in 2017.

According to the results of this extensive study, the majority of cocaine overdose deaths were due to combing coke with other drugs. One particularly deadly combination is mixing cocaine and alcohol. For one thing, drinking while using cocaine lowers your inhibitions and makes you impervious to dangerous cocaine overdose symptoms. Users also tend to do more cocaine if they use while drinking.

Why is Cocaine so Addictive?

Although cocaine isn’t a drug known for physical dependency, it certainly is addictive. In fact, it’s considered the most psychologically dependent drug next to meth. A Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) report entitled National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that more than two million Americans over the age of 12 used cocaine in 2017. That study includes approximately 473,000 who used crack cocaine.

If it doesn’t lead to physical dependency, why is cocaine so addictive?

The drug stimulates the pleasure center of the brain. This causes euphoria and exaggerated feelings of confidence and well-being. Those who enjoy this sensation seek more and more of the drug. However, tolerance develops quickly with continued cocaine use. This means that it takes more of the drug to obtain the same high as when you first start.

Cocaine also has a relatively short half-life, so users usually binge on the drug for hours, taking hit after hit until there’s no more cocaine available. When used in a party setting, many users take the drug with marijuana, heroin, alcohol, or even amphetamines. This increases the risk of cocaine overdose and death.

A report released in New York City found that 37 of cocaine-related overdose deaths occurring in 2016 also involved fentanyl, a new deadly combination. Oddly, hot weather and high humidity also increase the effects of cocaine use. This can lead to dehydration, a contributing factor in some coke-related deaths.

Hope for Recovery Through Cocaine Overdose Treatment

Surviving an overdose is often a wake up called for many people with a substance use disorder. If you or someone close to you has had a close call after doing coke, or you’re seeking treatment for drug dependency, there’s help available.

Your best bet is to check into a live-in program that includes medically supervised detox, mental health services, and peer group support. This will provide you with a safe place to address your addiction and the root causes in an environment that’s conducive to true freedom from coke dependency. Any comprehensive program also includes rehab aftercare programs geared toward preventing relapse.

Most major health insurance plans will cover at least part of the cost of your treatment under mandates from the Affordable Care Act (ACA). You also don’t have to worry about losing your job when you enter rehab, because that’s protected under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). You are required to get treatment from an approved medical facility or by referral from a physician in order to qualify for protection under these laws.

If you need help to overcome drug addiction, it’s just a phone call away. Most cities and even small towns have residential rehabilitation clinics or at least some sort of outpatient treatment. You can also find help here, including our live chat support and a 24-hour helpline.

Don’t wait until you have a near-death experience to get help for substance use disorder. You can begin your recovery today by taking that first step to call Stepping Stone Center for Recovery at 866.957.4960.

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