Crack Overdose: Causes, Symptoms, & Treatment

Crack cocaine overdose is a hazardous medical emergency that can occur due to a number of factors, including cocaine abuse. Addiction treatment options can help a person manage their addiction and prevent overdose. It may include inpatient or outpatient services.

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Dr. Manish Mishra, MBBS

Medically Reviewed By: Manish Mishra, MBBS


Crack cocaine, or crack, is a form of cocaine that is made by boiling powder cocaine in water and baking soda. The substance is a stimulant drug that is harmful to the body, and illegal.

Due to the effects of crack cocaine on the body and the nature of the drug, it’s possible to overdose on it, which can result in a variety of health issues.

Cocaine overdose has become increasingly common in recent years and was involved in 1 in 5 overdose deaths in 2019 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Causes Of Crack Overdose

The occurrence of crack overdose may seem straightforward, but there are a few different ways you can be more susceptible to it.

Combining Crack With Other Drugs

One way you can overdose on crack cocaine is by combining it with other drugs.

When certain substances are mixed in the body, they can amplify the effects of one another, making them potent.

Some common drugs that are mixed with crack cocaine include alcohol, heroin, and opioids. It’s vital to note that taking multiple drugs at once greatly increases your chances of overdosing.

Cutting Agents Used In Crack Cocaine

A similar cause of crack overdose is the cutting agents that are used in the drug. As there is no regulation for the substance, it’s almost impossible to know what you’re putting in your body when you use crack cocaine.

Crack can be mixed with countless adulterants, but some common ones are laundry detergent, caffeine, laxatives, levamisole, anesthetics, and more.

Additionally, even more dangerous substances are sometimes mixed with crack cocaine. These can include drugs like amphetamines, methamphetamine, and even fentanyl.

With so many different substances in your body, overdose becomes much more likely as many organ systems and bodily functions are affected.

Trying To “Keep Up”

When it comes to first-time or novice crack cocaine use, overdose can sometimes occur when they try to “keep up” with others who have been using the drug long-term.

Those who have not used crack before or only a few times have a much lower tolerance than those who use it frequently, making smaller amounts of crack likely to cause overdose.

On the other hand, as your tolerance continues to increase, it’s also possible to overdose as your body needs more crack cocaine to feel the same effects.

Does Snorting Crack Make Overdose More Likely?

Believe it or not, crack cocaine overdose is also more likely depending on the method of use. Specifically, snorting crack can make overdose more likely than injecting or smoking crack.

This is because when you snort cocaine, the drug is delivered directly from the bloodstream to the brain.

When this happens, the drug doesn’t have to pass through the digestive tract or liver, which are responsible for filtering out toxins.

Additionally, snorting causes the effects of crack to be felt much quicker. All of these factors make your risk of overdose much higher.

Symptoms Of Crack Overdose

Crack cocaine overdose is incredibly dangerous, so if you think someone may be experiencing crack overdose, there are a few symptoms you can look out for.

Crack cocaine overdose affects many bodily functions and organs including the cardiovascular system.

Some symptoms of overdose in this category include high blood pressure, irregular heart rate, chest pain, heart attack, high body temperature or sweating, and even stroke.

Other effects of cocaine overdose can include:

  • breathing difficulty
  • seizures
  • extreme anxiety
  • hallucinations
  • coma (in some cases)

Can You Die From Crack Cocaine Overdose?

Yes, you can die from a crack cocaine overdose. In fact, sudden death is a possibility with crack cocaine use. This is usually the result of cardiac arrest or seizures.

Treatment For Crack Cocaine Overdose

If you notice someone is overdosing on crack cocaine, there are three vital steps you should take to ensure they have the best chance of surviving.

Call 911

Crack cocaine overdose is a medical emergency, much like any other kind of drug overdose. It is essential to get the person who is having an overdose to the emergency department, where they can get help from a healthcare provider.

That being said, be sure to call 911 as soon as you notice the overdose. The sooner the person who has overdosed receives attention from medical professionals, the better.

Cold Compress To Keep Body Temperature Down

Crack overdose can cause your body temperature to rise significantly. When your body temperature is too high, you can start to suffer damage to your organs and brain.

In some cases, high body temperature can also cause a stroke.

To help combat this while waiting for emergency services to arrive, use cold compresses to help keep the person who has overdosed at a lower body temperature.

Clear Away Objects That May Cause Harm During Seizure

Lastly, seizures are common with crack cocaine overdose. When someone is seizing, it’s possible for them to injure themselves if they convulse near dangerous objects.

Be sure to keep the area around the person clear of anything sharp, heavy, or hard that they could fall on or hit when they are seizing.

Additionally, when the person is seizing, be sure to gently place them on their side to avoid hitting their head or choking on saliva or vomit.

Addiction Treatment Programs For Crack Cocaine Addiction

Crack cocaine overdose is common with crack addiction, so it’s important to find a way to recover from your addiction.

When it comes to finding the right treatment for you or a loved one, look no further than Bedrock Recovery Center, located in Canton, MA.

We are a highly rated, well-equipped treatment center offering effective treatment for all kinds of substance use disorders.

Whether you need help dealing with withdrawal symptoms or finding other ways to cope, we can help.

Here at Bedrock, we make sure to work with each individual to understand exactly what kind of treatment is right for them.

Our crack cocaine treatment programs include detox, medication-assisted treatment, therapy, inpatient services, education, and more.

Find Cocaine Addiction Treatment At Bedrock Recovery Center

If you or a family member are ready to enter addiction recovery and make crack cocaine use a part of your past, give us a call at Bedrock Recovery Center today.

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
  3. NIDA for Teens
  4. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Written by Bedrock Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Bedrock Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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