Cocaine, a potent stimulant with a long and controversial history, often finds itself at the centre of discussions related to addiction. But can you overdose on coke?

If you’ve ever wondered about the genuine risks linked to cocaine use and potential overdose, this article aims to provide a thorough exploration of the topic.


What is Cocaine?

Cocaine (also commonly known as ‘Charlie’, ‘Coke’ and ‘Blow’) is an addictive substance that can be consumed orally, intranasally, intravenously, or by inhalation.

The substance is made from coca leaves, a shrub found mainly in South America, which is manufactured into a fine white powder. Cocaine is a euphoria-producing stimulant drug that can make you feel energised, euphoric or out of touch with your surroundings. It also may help relieve pain in some situations, as it is also a local anaesthetic.

Cocaine may be taken alongside other stimulants or alcohol. When combined, the toxicity can be overwhelming and potentially life-threatening. Addiction is a disease, and when it is not appropriately managed, it may spiral out of control. Mental health issues may precipitate the use of drugs. Without addressing the issue, addiction can lead to overdose.


The Risks of Cocaine Use

Cocaine is an illegal substance that can create numerous issues for the user. Cocaine is highly addictive, and, therefore, can often create a fear of overdosing. However, numerous short-term and long-term health effects can impact your physical and mental health. Some of the risks associated with cocaine use include (but are not limited to):

  • Decreased appetite and weight loss.
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure (which may play a role in exacerbating pre-existing conditions).
  • Dilated pupils and lower reaction times.
  • Headaches.
  • Insomnia/Irritability.
  • Seizures.
  • Tooth decay and/or loss.
  • Developing anxiety and/or depression.
  • Poor performance at work or home.
  • Organ damage (often liver/lungs/heart).
  • Psychosis.
  • Bowel decay (inability to release bodily waste effectively).
  • Sudden death.


Can You Overdose on Coke?

Yes. In the UK, cocaine-related deaths have been increasing at a rapid rate over the years, causing alarm amongst many health professionals across the country.

An overdose occurs when your body is no longer able to assimilate or tolerate the quantity of product absorbed. The body, therefore, is unable to regulate itself and shuts down. Each individual may have a lower or higher tolerance before an overdose occurs. However, as with any addictive substance, cocaine can cause an overdose.

Any addictive substance can create a domino effect in the body. Regular consumption of a class A drug such as cocaine can lead to a strong desire to keep taking the drug, leading to immunity from its effects and the need for more. This can lead to accidental overdose. It is important to keep a close track of the symptoms associated with overdose. There may be some telltale signs beforehand that could help save a life.

Cocaine overdose is a medical emergency. It may cause cessation of breathing and pulse, leading to rapid death. Overdose may also be more common if other/multiple drugs are being taken alongside cocaine. This can lead to a devastating reaction within the body. Being able to identify signs quickly could help save someone’s life.


Signs and Symptoms of Cocaine Overdose

An overdose may not happen instantly. However, it may happen after just a short time. Overdose will depend on the amount of substance ingested and how it affects that individual. Other factors may play a role. If someone uses it regularly, you may be used to some of the signs of symptoms afterwards. However, if any of those signs are heightened, it may be that the situation is a little more volatile. In order to pinpoint a cocaine overdose, you must be aware of the type of physical reactions the body may have. They may be in and out of consciousness or seem confused and dazed.

Signs and symptoms of cocaine overdose often include:

  • Chest pain or heart palpitations.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Seizures.
  • Hallucinations or delusions (including anger and severe confusion).
  • Excessive perspiration.
  • Vomiting.
  • Blue or pale skin.

If you notice any of the following signs, then it is important to call emergency services immediately. If you find someone unconscious, you must immediately place the person in the recovery position and do not place anything in their mouth. Calmly reassure them that help is on the way and remove any hazards around them.


Potential Long-Term Effects of Cocaine Overdose

Cocaine use often results in numerous mental health conditions. When a cocaine addiction is not treated accordingly, it can lead to difficult long-term health effects that can create problems across all areas of life. Following a cocaine overdose, you may need a form of rehabilitation, and this can take time and patience. Some of the long-term effects of cocaine overdose are:

  • Blood clots can lead to a heart attack or a pulmonary embolism (this can be a lifelong issue that may need medication).
  • Angina from tightening and damaged arteries.
  • Heart attack from cardiopulmonary damage.
  • Permanently increased blood pressure (which may need long-term medication).
  • Tachycardia or arrhythmias.
  • Various infections, especially if the cocaine is consumed through the use of needles.


Mental health conditions may become exacerbated by a lack of treatment. Those who do not actively assess and treat their health conditions may turn to addictive substances to aid. Following a cocaine overdose, long-term mental health issues may present in numerous ways.

Anxiety and depression are often some of the most prevalent mental health issues associated with cocaine overdose. Therapies and private rehabilitation will be able to ensure a smooth transition back into society, with the necessary tools and life skills to continue their journey to recovery. It is recommended that anyone facing cocaine addiction should reach out to someone who can help.


Recommendations for Seeking Help

Cocaine addiction can be devastating, and therefore, getting the help that you need early on is vital. The most successful form of recovery is private rehabilitation, which offers a full-scale rehabilitation programme, including an aftercare plan that ensures long-term sobriety.

Cocaine rehab is often a month-long commitment, run by multidisciplinary personnel, including medical staff, who create a plan that is bespoke to your needs. This may include detox and numerous psychotherapies and counselling sessions. These can mitigate any further risks of overdose in the future and help create long-term sobriety.

If you want to reach out for some advice and to look into the available treatment options, please feel free to contact our friendly, professional team today. You can reach us on 01253 847 553, or alternatively, you can reach us on our national number (0800 880 7596). Don’t suffer in silence. Speak out and get the help that you truly deserve.

John Gillen - Author - Last updated: May 13, 2024

John is one UK’s leading professionals in the addiction recovery industry. Pioneering new treatment techniques such as NAD+ and ongoing research into new therapy techniques such as systematic laser therapy, John is committed to providing the very best treatment for people throughout the UK and Europe. During his extremely busy schedule, John likes to regularly update our blog section with the latest news and trends in the industry to keep visitors to our site as well informed as possible on everything related to addiction treatment.