Cocaine is potent central nervous system stimulant manufactured from the leaves of the coca plant. It is highly addictive and classified as a Schedule II drug under the Controlled Substances Act with limited medical purposes. In the United States, most cocaine comes from Columbia and is shipped through Mexico and Central America. Despite efforts to control the trafficking and distribution of cocaine, it remains a popular and easily obtainable drug on the street.
Cocaine speeds up systems in the body and increases heart rate, respiration, brain activity, and motor functions. It produces rapid and intense euphoria which is a primary reason for its high abuse potential, but, with repeat abuse, cocaine addiction is likely and one of the most difficult conditions to overcome.
Cocaine can be found in powder, liquid, or crack and it can be snorted, injected or smoked and all methods are potentially harmful to the abuser. Although long term use surely causes physical and psychological impairments, even first time users of cocaine are risking their lives when they use it.
What is Cocaine Overdose?
In 2011, cocaine was involved in an estimated 40.3% of an estimated 1,252,500 emergency department visits involving illicit drug misuse or abuse, according to the Drug Abuse Warning Network. The quicker the cocaine is absorbed, the greater the chance of accidental overdose. Injecting cocaine is the most risky and smoking is also a high risk situation, while snorting cocaine takes a little longer to be absorbed into the blood through nasal membranes.
Combining cocaine and other drugs such as alcohol increases the risk of overdose. Cocaine and alcohol combinations form a chemical called cocaethylene which increases the effects of cocaine and can cause heart attacks, cardiac arrest, or sudden cardiac death. It puts additional strains on the heart and liver and has been linked to severe heart damage and liver disease because of buildup in the liver over time.
Cocaine Overdose Symptoms
Most overdose symptoms of cocaine involve seizures, respiratory failures, or cardiac arrhythmias. Overdose can also cause brain hemorrhaging, hyperthermia, stroke, kidney failure, and a variety of psychosis symptoms.
The physical symptoms of an overdose may be most noticeable including:
- Nausea or Vomiting
- Tremors or excessive shakiness
- Elevated temperature
- Irregular breathing, difficulty breathing
- Increased heart rate or blood pressure
- Chest pain
- Fainting or loss of consciousness
Psychological symptoms of an overdose may be less noticeable, although they are still dangerous, including:
- Extreme anxiety
- Panic attacks
- Bizarre, irrational, or violent behaviors