What Is Cocaine Intoxication?

Cocaine intoxication is a condition that results from overdosing on large amounts of the drug or pure forms of it. When cocaine toxicity reaches high levels, it can affect the central nervous system, create high blood pressure, and put you at risk of cardiac arrest

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Like all illicit drugs, cocaine and crack cocaine are dangerous. This is especially difficult for people who use cocaine because it gives them a high sense of confidence and self-worth.

It is difficult to understand the danger of drug abuse when that very drug makes you feel like you can conquer the world. Nevertheless, the consequences of cocaine intoxication can include death.

What Is Cocaine Intoxication?

Cocaine intoxication is essentially a cocaine overdose. When people who use cocaine take too much of the drug or, perhaps inadvertently, take the drug in its pure form, they are in danger of high levels of toxicity from the drug.

This means that not only are you experiencing a high or “rush” from cocaine drug abuse, but when intoxication happens, you experience negative symptoms throughout your body.

These symptoms can include:

  • rambling
  • anxiety
  • tachycardia (increased heart rate)
  • high blood pressure
  • vomiting

Other, more severe cocaine intoxication symptoms include:

  • hyperthermia (increased body temperature)
  • myocardial infarction (heart attack)
  • vasoconstriction resulting in ischemia (constriction of blood vessels resulting in poor blood supply to internal organs)
  • rapid breathing and other pulmonary problems
  • rapid heart conduction
  • chest pain
  • loss of bladder function
  • delirium

Cocaine intoxication can sometimes be fatal.

Causes Of Cocaine Intoxication

The effects of cocaine intoxication are caused by the drug’s interactions on a neurological level. Cocaine engages your dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin receptors which in turn dump catecholamine hormones into your system.

All these receptors belong to the category of monoamine transmitters. These transmitters communicate information to the body related to such things as reward, motivation, and the fight-or-flight response.

As such, they have a lot to do with the regulation of your respiratory and cardiovascular systems. So, when cocaine engages these receptors, you feel great, and when they disengage, you crash.

When you abuse cocaine to the point of overdosing, your monoamine transmitters increase the functions of your heart, pulmonary, and central nervous system to dangerous levels.

Dangers Of Intoxication From Cocaine Abuse

When cocaine intoxication becomes acute, it often follows three stages of development. Each stage affects the body broadly.

As the stages increase, so does the danger to various organs. For example, your heart can suffer ischemia (lack of blood supply) as cocaine continues to cause vasoconstriction (constricted blood vessels).

Stage 1 Of Acute Cocaine Toxicity

Stage 1 begins with symptoms in the central nervous system.

These may include:

  • nausea
  • cocaine headache
  • twitching
  • hallucinations
  • a rise in blood pressure
  • tachypnea (rapid breathing)
  • hyperthermia (which can be exacerbated by cocaine-induced rhabdomyolysis – the destruction of muscle tissue)
  • chest pain

Early symptoms of cocaine toxicity also manifest in the following psychological symptoms:

  • restlessness
  • aggression
  • confusion
  • agitation
  • euphoria
  • paranoia

Stage 2 Of Acute Cocaine Toxicity

In stage 2 of acute cocaine toxicity, users experience an increase of the symptoms described above.

Continued cocaine toxicity symptoms may include:

  • encephalopathy (a toxin-induced disease that affects brain function)
  • loss of bladder control
  • seizures
  • arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat)
  • hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • peripheral cyanosis (when your fingers turn blue)
  • gasping
  • apnea (when you stop breathing for a moment)

Stage 3 Of Acute Cocaine Toxicity

Stage 3 of acute cocaine toxicity is the most dangerous and can result in death.

Final and severe symptoms of cocaine toxicity include:

  • areflexia (loss of deep tendon reflexes)
  • dilated pupils
  • coma
  • loss of vital functions
  • hypotension (low blood pressure)
  • ventricular fibrillation (rapid heartbeat)
  • cardiac arrest (heart attack)
  • agonal breathing (abnormal breathing)
  • apnea
  • cyanosis
  • respiratory failure

Treatment Options For Cocaine Intoxication

Cocaine intoxication is treated with emergency medicine when someone comes into the emergency department with symptoms of acute toxicity, such as headache or chest pain.

However, the doctor must diagnose it from a wide array of syndromes and diseases.

A toxicology report from a urine sample, chest x-ray, and CT scan may all be helpful in diagnosing cocaine intoxication.

The treatment can include:

  • managing fever
  • giving benzodiazepines for sedation to slow down the overactive central nervous system
  • possibly giving an antipsychotic such as haloperidol or olanzapine to control agitation

Cocaine intoxication can be fatal, especially when exacerbated by cardiovascular complications or other complications such as thrombosis or HIV.

Find A Drug Rehab Program For Cocaine Abuse

Cocaine addiction can have long-term side effects that can have lasting results for your health, but even in the short term, cocaine substance abuse can be disastrous.

Currently, there are no pharmacologic treatments for cocaine abuse. For this reason, treatment of cocaine abuse involves evidence-based therapeutics (counseling), such as those you’ll find at Bedrock Recovery Center.

Call our helpline today, and let us guide you toward treatment options that may be right for you or a loved one.

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430976/
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/what-treatments-are-effective-cocaine-abusers
  3. U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000946.htm
  4. U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000793.htm

Written by Bedrock Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2023 Bedrock Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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