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Cocaine Overdose: Symptoms, Signs, & Treatment

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Medically Reviewed By: Diana Vo, LMFT

June 21, 2024

Table of Contents

Cocaine overdose (or coke overdose) is a always a risk factor for cocaine use, especially in large quantities or if you’re using it often. 

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Often underestimated as a harmless party drug, cocaine is a powerful and illicit narcotic that can be particularly dangerous and life-threatening via side effects like heart attacks, stroke, seizures, and more, which are triggered by cocaine overdose.

A Schedule II drug (under the Controlled Substances Act), cocaine not only has a risk factor for withdrawal and overdose but also for abuse and addiction. 

If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction and are concerned about cocaine overdose, it’s important to get help from a treatment facility or addiction counselor as soon as possible to provide intervention.

Can You Overdose on Cocaine?


Overdosing on cocaine is always a real possibility if you engage in using the substance. By trying to chase and maintain the feeling of euphoria from cocaine, you increase your risk of overdosing. This could even occur the first time you use cocaine.

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Cocaine Overdose Signs

For those concerned about overdose, it’s important to be able to identify the signs of cocaine overdose. If you recognize these cocaine overdose signs in yourself or someone else, it’s important that you call 9-1-1 immediately for help. 

Signs of a cocaine overdose to look for include:

Agitation and Restlessness: Heightened anxiety or nervousness beyond the typical effects of cocaine use.

Severe Anxiety or Panic: Extreme feelings of fear or panic that may be overwhelming.

Chest Pain: Chest pain or discomfort, which could indicate heart issues.

Increased Heart Rate: Abnormally fast heart rate (tachycardia).

High Blood Pressure: Elevated blood pressure (can lead to serious complications).

Irregular Heartbeat: Arrhythmias or abnormal heartbeat.

Hyperthermia: Elevated body temperature, which can be dangerous.

Seizures: Feeling an “aura”, losing consciousness, convulsions, blue skin tone.

Respiratory Distress: Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath.

So what are the symptoms of cocaine overdose?

woman staring out of a window representing overdosing on cocaine

Cocaine Overdose Symptoms

Cocaine OD symptoms can range from uncomfortable to deadly, and it’s important to be able to recognize the signs that someone may be experiencing an overdose.

If you or a loved one uses cocaine, it is worth familiarizing yourself with the symptoms of cocaine overdose. If you suspect a cocaine overdose, call 911 immediately.

Look out for the following identifiable cocaine OD symptoms:

      • High body temperature

      • Increased blood pressure

      • Restlessness

      • Confusion

      • Agitated movements

      • Teeth chattering or grinding

      • Relentless energy

    There are also many physical symptoms of cocaine overdose, including:

        • Increased sweating

        • Rapid heart rate

        • Blue tinge to the skin

        • Chest pain radiating through the arms and shoulders

        • Problems breathing

        • Increased heart rate

        • Loss of consciousness

        • Incontinence

        • Nausea

        • Vomiting

        • Tremors

        • Seizures

      You should also monitor for the following psychological symptoms of cocaine overdose:

          • Hallucinations

          • Delirium

          • Confusion

          • Paranoia

          • Panic attacks

          • Severe anxiety

          • Rambling

        If you are able to identify symptoms of cocaine overdose based on this list, it’s important to seek help immediately. Call 911 or quickly find someone to drive the individual experiencing a coke overdose to the emergency room for cocaine OD treatment.

        Now that we’ve covered cocaine overdose symptoms, let’s look at the amount of cocaine it takes to overdose.

        What Happens When You Overdose on Cocaine?


        When someone overdoses on cocaine their body can go into cardiac arrest and they may experience other problems such as coma, loss of vital functions, respiratory failure, and more.

        Source

        How Much Cocaine Does it Take to Overdose?

        According to NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse), an overdose of cocaine occurs when you take enough of the drug for blood concentration levels of the substance to become toxic, leading to a serious physical reaction. Cocaine overdose essentially poisons your system.

        Researchers believe that toxic levels of cocaine are not wholly dictated by dosage. Some reported cases of cocaine overdose involve a few hundred milligrams of the drug, while other people ingest several grams of powdered cocaine without overdosing.

        Cocaine overdose toxicity, then, hinges largely on the individual using the substance and their susceptibility to those toxins.

        Additionally, the purity of the cocaine plays a role in its overdose potential. Many drug traffickers adulterate cocaine with other substances and bulking agents to increase profits.

        Mixing cocaine with other substances – particularly heroin and alcohol – heightens the risk of a fatal overdose.

        If you’re worried that you or a loved one are at risk of overdosing on cocaine, call our addiction hotline at 866.693.3821 to get help now.

        How to Treat Cocaine Overdose

        If you feel you are experiencing or witnessing a cocaine overdose and are looking for a how to treat cocaine overdose or how to reverse cocaine overdose, request emergency medical care immediately.

        After calling 911, do the following:

        1. Provide emergency responders with the following information: age, drug allergies, pre-existing health conditions, amount of cocaine consumed, history of drug and alcohol use.
        2. Ensure the person is laid on their side to encourage breathing and prevent choking on vomit.
        3. Keep the person away from any sharp objects in case they have a seizure.
        4. Apply cold compresses to the person if they appear overheated.
        5. Remain with the person until the emergency responders arrive.

        A rapid response can sometimes reverse a cocaine overdose.

        When the emergency responders arrive, they may continue the cooling method to ensure the person’s core body temperature is reduced. Ice should not be left on the body for too long, though. This can lead to hypothermia.

        During a cocaine overdose, the heart starts working overtime so do all you can to keep the person calm.

        Helping the person focus on controlled breathing can alleviate the risk of respiratory failure triggered by an overactive cardiovascular system.

        There is no overdose antidote for cocaine. A successful medical intervention involves treating the primary symptoms with a medical professional who knows how to treat cocaine overdose.

        In a hospital setting, cocaine OD treatment typically begins with the administration of a sedative to reduce heart rate and blood pressure levels. Benzodiazepines are used for this purpose. Taking benzos can also minimize the chance of stroke or heart attack in the person overdosing.

        During overdose, vital organs are placed under extreme stress. It is imperative not to overdose again on cocaine to prevent further trauma. Given the powerfully addictive nature of cocaine, this can be challenging without the right cocaine addiction treatment.

        image of people talking representing Cocaine OD treatment.

        Addiction Treatment for Cocaine

        If you decide to engage with cocaine addiction treatment, you’ll first need to go through a cocaine detox program.

        The detoxification phase for cocaine usually lasts only a few days. For more severe stimulant use disorders, cocaine withdrawal symptoms may persist for up to a week.

        Once detoxed, you will be in better physical shape to continue with treatment for cocaine addiction.

        You then need to choose whether to proceed with inpatient or outpatient rehab:

        • Inpatient rehab: Ideal for those with severe addictions, co-occurring disorders (addiction and mental health condition), or unstable home environments.
        • Outpatient rehab: Recommended for those with mild or moderate cocaine addictions. Also suitable for those with busy schedules and for those seeking the most cost-effective form of cocaine addiction treatment.

        Unlike for the treatment of opioid use disorder or alcohol use disorder, there are no FDA-approved pharmacological interventions for cocaine addiction in the form of stimulant use disorder. Ongoing research in this area suggests that both buprenorphine and naltrexone show promise.

        In the absence of approved medications to streamline recovery, cocaine addiction is mainly treated with behavioral interventions.

        SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) recommend these therapies for the treatment of cocaine addiction and other stimulant use disorders:

        • Psychotherapies: Psychotherapy is the clinical descriptor for talk therapies like CBT and DBT. CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) is proven effective for the treatment of addictions. Through CBT sessions, you’ll learn how to identify what triggers you to abuse cocaine. Your therapist will also help you to create healthy coping mechanisms, enabling you to deal with life’s stressors more effectively throughout your ongoing recovery from cocaine addiction.
        • Contingency management: Abusing a stimulant like cocaine interferes with the reward circuitry in the brain. Through contingency management, healthy behaviors like passing a drug screen are incentivized with small rewards like vouchers.
        • Motivational interviewing: In the early phase of cocaine addiction recovery, motivational interviewing can help you deal with feelings of negativity or ambivalence toward your recovery, hopefully leading to a more positive outlook.
        • Community reinforcement: Community reinforcement helps you to build a sober and supportive network that you can lean on during your recovery.

        Don’t let the absence of medication prevent you from engaging with cocaine addiction treatment. Cocaine overdose and addiction is predominantly psychological. As such, behavioral interventions provide the most positive outcomes.

        Renaissance Recovery logo for cocaine OD symptoms rehab in Huntington Beach, California.

        Renaissance Recovery’s Cocaine Treatment Program

        If you or a loved one is struggling with a cocaine addiction problem and need help with treatment, Renaissance Recovery has a cocaine rehab in California that can help you or your loved one through every step of the addiction treatment process.

        If you are one of the millions of people in the U.S. battling cocaine dependence, reach out to Renaissance Recovery for evidence-based alcohol addiction treatment in Southern California. For those who are alcohol-dependent, we can help you find detox services near you, streamlining your withdrawal process and entry into ongoing outpatient treatment at Renaissance in Huntington Beach, CA.

        Our intensive outpatient treatment programs allow you to engage with addiction treatment at a suitable level of intensity without neglecting your everyday obligations.

        All addictions are unique, so all Renaissance treatment programs reflect this by delivering personalized care that may include any of the following interventions:

        Unpack alcohol addiction with expert guidance by calling 866.693.3821.

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