Cocaine Overdose | Signs, Risk Factors, & What To Do

Kimberly Langdon, M.D.

Medically Reviewed By: Kimberly Langdon, M.D.

on December 6, 2022

In 2020, cocaine was involved in 25% of drug overdose deaths in Ohio. If you notice any signs of overdose in a loved one, including bluish-colored skin and difficulty breathing, immediate medical attention is likely required.

Cocaine is an illicit drug that can lead to alertness, euphoria, and an increase in energy.  Due to cocaine’s potency, as well as the risk of it being adulterated with dangerous substances like fentanyl, it’s possible to overdose on accident. 

With any cocaine use, you increase your risk of overdose, and that risk increases even more if you mix it with other substances like alcohol or opioids.

While the signs and symptoms of a cocaine overdose can differ, the result is almost always life-threatening. And unfortunately, it’s often deadly. 

In 2020, there were 19,447 drug overdose deaths involving cocaine in the United States, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. In Ohio, cocaine alone contributed to hundreds of overdose deaths that same year. 

Signs Of A Cocaine Overdose

There are a wide range of signs and symptoms that can show up when someone overdoses on cocaine. They can be sorted into two categories: behavioral and physical.

The behavioral signs of cocaine overdose may include:

  • paranoid
  • agitation
  • hallucinations
  • severe anxiety
  • confusion
  • psychosis

The physical signs of cocaine overdose can include:

  • elevated heart rate
  • high blood pressure
  • high body temperature
  • chest pain
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • tremors
  • seizures
  • trouble breathing
  • nausea and vomiting
  • bluish tinge of the skin
  • loss of consciousness
  • loss of bladder control
  • heart attack/cardiac arrest

Although not all cocaine overdoses are fatal, they can leave lingering adverse effects such as brain damage and serious mental health issues.

Risk Factors For Cocaine Overdose

While an overdose can occur to anyone who is snorting cocaine, some factors increase the risk for some people. These risk factors include:

  • age: those who started using cocaine at a young age are more likely to develop cocaine addiction, which increases the risk of overdose
  • sex: men are more likely than women to use illicit drugs like cocaine and that increases their risk of cocaine overdose
  • body weight: people who weigh more often need a higher dose of cocaine in order to feel the effects, and taking high doses can significantly increase the risk of an overdose
  • history of drug use/drug addiction: if you have a history of cocaine abuse, you may have a tolerance to the drug, which can lead to taking higher doses
  • using other substances: mixing other substances like synthetic opioids or benzodiazepines with cocaine increases the likelihood of an overdose 

Treatment For Cocaine Overdose

There are several steps in the treatment of cocaine overdose. It starts with a call to 911 and then moves on to emergency medical attention and then addiction treatment.

Cocaine Addiction Treatment

Once you’re stabilized and discharged from the hospital, cocaine addiction treatment is likely the next step. 

Treatment may start with a detox program where healthcare providers help monitor any cocaine withdrawal symptoms that occur. They may also provide medication to treat some of the withdrawal symptoms.

After that, an inpatient or outpatient treatment program is the next step. While in treatment, you have access to therapy, support groups, and treatment for co-occurring mental health disorders, if necessary. 

If you or a loved one live with cocaine addiction, please contact Ohio Recovery Center for information on our inpatient treatment options.

  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse — Cocaine DrugFacts
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse — Overdose Death Rates
  3. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus — Cocaine
  4. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus — Cocaine Intoxication
  5. Ohio Department of Health — 2020 Ohio Drug Overdose Data: General Findings

Written by Ohio Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Ohio Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

Prefer Texting?
We've got you covered.

Receive 24/7 text support right away.
There is no obligation and you can opt out at any time.

Sign up for text support

Receive 24/7 text support right away.
There is no obligation and you can opt out at any time.
Let us walk you through the treatment process. We're here to help.
For 24/7 Treatment Help:
100% Free & Confidential. Call (419) 904-4158