As one of the most powerful narcotic drugs around, cocaine poses a considerable risk for abuse and addiction. Cocaine stimulates brain and central nervous system functions, which can produce damaging effects over time.
For some people, signs of cocaine overdose can develop as of their first time trying the drug. For others, cocaine has a cumulative effect that makes users more susceptible to overdose with continued use.
Signs of cocaine overdose correspond with the areas of the body most affected by the drug’s effects. Considering cocaine’s ability to send users into a downward spiral of dependence and eventual addiction, signs of cocaine overdose can appear at any given time regardless of how long a person has used the drug.
Cocaine Overdose Factors
Brain and central nervous system processes bear the brunt of cocaine’s stimulant effects. Cocaine speeds up bodily functions at abnormally fast rates placing undo strain on brain and bodily functions.
Cocaine overdose episodes occur when a certain saturation and toxicity level is reached, which in turn overwhelms the body’s ability to regulate normal functions. While the likelihood of developing signs of cocaine overdose increases when ingesting large doses, toxicity can occur in low dose cases for some people.
According to the University of Arizona, a person can actually become more sensitive to cocaine’s anesthetic and convulsant effects regardless of whether dosage amounts are increased over time. In contrast, the brain itself easily develops a tolerance for cocaine’s effects driving users to increase dosage amounts with continued use. These opposing factors can greatly increase the likelihood of overdose for some people.
Signs of a Cocaine Overdose
Cocaine exerts its most prominent effects on dopamine chemical levels in the brain, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Dopamine is a vital neurotransmitter chemical that plays a central role in coordinating communications throughout the various brain regions.
Cocaine’s presence triggers the release of massive amounts of dopamine chemicals, which accounts for the drug “high” users experience. As the brain’s tolerance levels increase, individual bodily processes and structures develop tolerance to the drug at a much slower rate. This discrepancy in tolerance level gains can bring on signs of cocaine overdose when any one bodily system becomes overwhelmed by the drug’s effects.
As a person’s overall health can increase or decrease the likelihood of toxicity, both physical and/or behavioral signs of cocaine overdose can develop. Physical signs of cocaine overdose may include –
- Elevated body temperature
- Chest pains
- Convulsions or seizures
- Elevated heart rate
- Irregular breathing patterns
- Tremors or shakiness
Behavioral signs of overdose can vary depending on how long a person has used the drug and whether or not he or she has developed a sensitivity to the drug’s effects. Behavioral signs may take the form of –
- Panic attack
- Delirium symptoms
- Feelings of anxiety
- Paranoid ideations
- Agitated behaviors
Cocaine overdose is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention; otherwise, bodily systems can potentially shutdown and cause death. Ultimately, the risk of cocaine overdose cannot be gauged by frequency of use or dosage amount taken so overdose symptoms can appear at any given time for any one person.