Cocaine Overdose: What to Do and More
If someone is showing signs of a cocaine overdose, call 911 immediately.
If you grew up in the 1980s, there are things you might remember about it. You might remember the pop music giants like Michael Jackson and Prince. You might remember the fashion trends of the time and maybe even the fun sitcoms.
There was also a substance everyone knew about in the 1980s. It was cocaine and having it was seen as a status symbol of wealth. Cocaine seemed to have glamour all around it.
Cocaine overdose is dangerous, can be scary, and plenty of people may not know what to do if it occurs. In this blog post, we will discuss the signs of cocaine overdose, how to react when someone you may know is having an overdose, and why cocaine is popular in America.
What Does a Cocaine Overdose Look Like?
An overdose of cocaine has physiological, psychological, and physical symptoms. The symptoms can include:
- High body temperature
- Chest pain/labored breathing
- Increased blood pressure
Cocaine overdose can cause something called acute cocaine toxicity. This speeds up the central nervous system, among other areas of the body. This usually is described in stages, with stage 1 symptoms being:
- Rapid breathing
- Hallucinations (seeing and hearing things that aren’t there)
- Increased blood pressure
People in stage 1 could become dangerous as they may have frequent mood changes. Stage 2 symptoms can be more dangerous as the person can experience:
- Rapid breathing
- High body temperature (hyperthermia)
The most dangerous form of this is the final stage, stage 3, with symptoms being:
- Loss of vital functions
- Heart attack
- Respiratory failure
This is where a person’s life is in jeopardy. Medical attention will be needed, and permanent changes to one’s body and organs areperiod after a possibility.
The amount of cocaine that a person can take to overdose varies. While taking larger amounts (over 100 milligrams) of cocaine increases the chance of overdose, there are very few instances where even taking a small amount of cocaine (up to 100 milligrams) can cause an overdose.
There are different ways cocaine is ingested into the body as well. The way cocaine is ingested determines how quick the effects of cocaine take. The most common form of ingesting cocaine is through snorting it, but injection is also a form. Injection of cocaine produces a stronger, quicker high than snorting, but snorting is a faster absorption method.
If you have any thoughts that a person around you may be overdosing on cocaine, call 911 immediately.
Overdosing on crack cocaine is a possibility as well. Much like cocaine, someone can overdose on crack even if it is their first time taking it. Because crack is mainly smoked, addiction seems to develop more quickly. Along with the effects of cocaine, people who take crack can experience shortness of breath and bleeding in the lungs. Crack overdose symptoms may include:
- Coughing up black blood
Overdoses can be scary to go through, as well as scary to see someone go through. Immediately dial 911 if you believe someone is overdosing.
Cocaine Overdose Response
If you are with someone who is overdosing on cocaine, do your best to stay calm. It is normal to feel scared, but you will need to remain calm to help the person out.
The first thing to do if a person is overdosing on cocaine is to dial 911. Currently, there are no medications that prevent cocaine overdose, but medical professionals will know what to do. Stay on the phone with the 911 operator until someone comes to help, and do what the 911 operator says.
You’ll want to turn the person on their side if they are having a seizure or throwing up. This will keep their airways clear. Remove immediate dangers as well. Sharp objects or heavy objects from high places could hurt the victim, so removing those will remove that concern.
Cocaine overdose is serious and can happen to anyone consuming the drug.
Why Is Cocaine So Popular?
Cocaine is a highly addictive substance. Made from the leaves of the coca plant, cocaine was made into the form mainly known today (a white powder) in the early 1900s. This purified form is called cocaine hydrochloride.
Cocaine was a main ingredient in different medicines, used as an anesthetic to block pain, and even included in Coca-Cola in the early versions of the drink. Cocaine is consumed for recreational purposes, but not as much as other substances.
Cocaine’s popularity hit peaks and valleys throughout its history in America. In the 1900s, plenty of people were consuming cocaine due to it being an ingredient in different products. However, people quickly became addicted to it at the time — so much so that President William Taft called it a national threat in 1910.
Around this time, cocaine started to become federally regulated. So the taking of cocaine for recreational purposes was banned and punishable by law. Because of this, cocaine was not considered an issue for decades.
In the 1970s, things changed. Cocaine started becoming more popular. It was in the ’70s that cocaine became associated with status. Cocaine became a “glamour substance” then, with media highlighting it, and it became a status symbol for some.
In the 1980s, the popularity of cocaine was boosted by the crack epidemic. Crack flooded the streets of urban communities and left many people addicted to the substance.
Crack cocaine is made from processing a simple mixture of powdered cocaine, water, and baking soda. That mixture is then dried and broken into chunks that are smoked. The effects of it are similar to those of the powdered form of cocaine. It produces an immediate high, and it’s cheap to produce, which is why it rose to prominence in the ’80s.
The abundance of crack cocaine led to an epidemic as many people were becoming addicted to it. The crack epidemic started in 1985 and lasted until about 1996. At that point, cocaine was no longer the “glamour substance” people saw it to be in the ’80s, but it was still used recreationally and socially.
What Happens When I Take Cocaine?
Cocaine is a stimulant that activates dopamine receptors (chemical messengers) in our brains that make us feel good. It also gives a person increased alertness and focus for a fairly short period after consumption.
The normal brain cycle would have dopamine being recycled back into our cells, but cocaine prevents that from happening. Cocaine makes dopamine build up between our cells, giving us an immense “reward” feeling.
These rewards are short-lived, though, leading many people to quickly return for more cocaine.
Cocaine’s short-term side effects may include euphoria (extreme happiness), irritability, and hypersensitivity of the senses.
These effects show up almost immediately after taking a dose of cocaine and disappear within an hour. Even within this short time frame, cocaine has physiological effects on the body. Some of those effects include:
- Constricted blood vessels
- Increased heart rate
- Increased blood pressure
Taking cocaine also has long-term effects on the body. Tolerance develops for the substance as a person keeps taking it, so people may want higher doses.
The long-term effects depend on how the substance is taken. Snorting cocaine (the most typical way cocaine is taken) can lead to long-term damage to the nasal airways, losing the sense of smell, and regular bloody noses.
Injecting cocaine can lead to a higher risk of hepatitis C. Taking cocaine long-term can also lead to ulcers, increased risk of having a stroke, and disorders like Parkinson’s syndrome.
The Scope of Cocaine Consumption in America
Cocaine is a well-known substance. It affects so many Americans, regardless of age or background. Over 2 million people aged 18 to 25 and 3.5 million people aged 26 or older admitted to taking cocaine in 2018.
Cocaine addiction has been on the rise in the past three years, and unfortunately, fatalities have risen as well.
According to 2019 data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, between 1.5% and 2% of all Mississippi citizens had consumed cocaine in the past year.
This equals out to around 1 in every 50 Mississippians, or nearly 60,000 residents in total.
Cocaine Addiction Treatment
Treatment for cocaine use disorder varies. As of now, there is research being done on medication-assisted treatment for cocaine addiction, but there are no approved medications that can aid with cocaine addiction treatment the way some medications are used to treat opioid and alcohol use disorders.
Inpatient treatment is recommended when starting treatment for cocaine addiction. The detox process can be hard to go through without any medical supervision, so inpatient treatment sets the client up with trained medical professionals who will know how to respond to the withdrawal symptoms.
There is also outpatient treatment, which typically follows inpatient treatment. Outpatient treatment is continuing the treatment of cocaine addiction while not being on-site all the time, meaning the client will sleep at home rather than at the facility.
Regardless of the time spent in a facility, there are certain methods of treatment that are key in cocaine addiction treatment.
It is important to have a strong base of evidence-based treatments like one-on-one counseling, family therapy, and group therapy. With these, you’ll be able to tackle the reasons for your addiction and learn to rework the thought process that leads you to consume cocaine to cope.
Vertava Health – Mississippi Is Here for You
At Vertava Health Mississippi, we are committed to helping you or your loved one overcome cocaine addiction. Call us today at (888) 956-6369 to learn more about ways we can help.