Crack Overdose: Causes, Signs, And What To Do

Crack cocaine may produce a life-threatening reaction called an overdose. Overdoses may include several physical and mental signs. Appropriate actions include calling 911 and turning the person onto their side.

The use of crack cocaine creates many risks, including the risk of overdose. A person may experience an overdose even after using crack cocaine for the first time.

Crack cocaine, which is an illegal stimulant drug that comes from powder cocaine, is often consumed in binges.

These binges may lead to overdose. Loved ones may prevent overdose deaths by understanding the signs and knowing the right steps to take.

What Is A Crack Cocaine Overdose?

A crack cocaine overdose is a life-threatening reaction that may occur when a person consumes more crack cocaine than their body is able to handle.

Because crack cocaine is itself a form of cocaine mixed with baking soda, the signs of crack overdose are the same as the signs of a powder cocaine overdose.

What Are The Signs Of A Crack Overdose?

Knowing the signs of a crack overdose is the first step when helping someone through this kind of emergency.

The signs of crack cocaine overdose include both physical and mental health signals.

Physical Crack Overdose Symptoms

Because crack cocaine is a stimulant, the side effects of crack include elevated heart rate and high blood pressure.

During an overdose, heart rate and blood pressure may increase to especially dangerous levels.

Somebody who experiences a crack cocaine overdose may also experience other physical symptoms as well.

Some of the physical symptoms of a crack overdose may include:

  • cardiac arrest (heart attack)
  • chest pain
  • shortness of breath
  • high body temperature
  • nausea or vomiting
  • sweating
  • vision loss or blurry vision
  • dizziness
  • seizure
  • intense headache
  • stroke
  • chills
  • tremors

In some cases, a person experiencing crack cocaine overdose may become entirely unresponsive.

Mental And Emotional Crack Overdose Symptoms

Crack cocaine may also cause mental health symptoms. Extreme anxiety is one of the most common signs of a cocaine overdose.

People who overdose on crack cocaine may experience several signs of anxiety, including panic attacks, feelings of dread, restlessness, and paranoia.

Crack overdose may also cause psychosis, or a complete break from reality.

What To Do About A Crack Overdose

When a person overdoses on crack cocaine, they will need medical attention as soon as possible.

Do your best to stay calm, and stay with the person as you call 911. Follow the instructions of the 911 operator, and stay on the phone line until help arrives.

As you wait for medical help, turn the person onto their side. By doing so, you may keep them from choking in case of a seizure, stroke, or vomiting.

Make sure that there are no sharp edges or other potentially harmful objects near the person as you turn them over.

When first responders arrive, they can provide medical care and transport the person to the emergency department.

Why Is Crack Cocaine Overdose So Prominent?

Because crack cocaine is smoked rather than snorted, it may lead to overdose more quickly than other forms of cocaine.

When cocaine is snorted, the drug may take several minutes or more to enter the bloodstream. Smoking, however, produces faster and stronger results than snorting.

Smoking cocaine also makes it difficult to measure the amount of drug that a person has consumed, which may lead them to underestimate the amount that they’ve taken in.

Crack Cocaine Overdose Risk Factors

Anybody who uses crack has a risk of overdosing on the drug. However, some factors can make people especially vulnerable.

Crack Cocaine Addiction

Those with a crack addiction or cocaine addiction are especially vulnerable to overdose, as they may take increasingly large amounts of the drug to achieve the same euphoric impact.

At the same time, as the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) explains, they may also become more sensitive to the negative effects of crack over time.

This combination of increased crack use and increased sensitivity may put a person at a higher risk for overdose.

Again, however, overdose is possible even during a person’s first experience with crack.

Withdrawal Symptoms

People who have stopped smoking crack may return to crack cocaine use if they experience crack withdrawal symptoms. They may feel that using the drug is their only option for relief.

This rebound drug use may be especially dangerous. After a period of abstinence from drugs, some people overestimate the amount of drugs that their systems can handle after detox.

This makes dealing with relapse especially dangerous, as the desire to eliminate withdrawal symptoms is stronger than the desire to abstain from crack or use it in typical doses.

Heart Conditions

People with pre-existing heart conditions may face a higher risk of a crack cocaine overdose.

It may take smaller amounts of crack cocaine to produce negative heart-related consequences for this demographic.

Fentanyl-Laced Crack Cocaine

Fentanyl-laced cocaine and other drugs have contributed to overdose death rates.

Fentanyl is one of the most powerful opioids available, and people are not always aware when fentanyl has been added to their drugs.

When a person consumes illicit fentanyl, either knowingly or unknowingly, they may experience an especially high risk of a drug overdose.

Find Treatment For Substance Abuse

Drug addiction is a highly complex mental health condition, and it often has dire consequences. Fortunately, the right addiction treatment can help people recover from substance use disorder.

We offer several addiction treatment programs, including inpatient and outpatient services, at our New England drug rehab center.

If you or a loved one may have a crack cocaine addiction, contact us now to learn how to begin the recovery process.

  1. National Institute On Drug Abuse — Overdose Death Rates
  2. National Institute On Drug Abuse — What Are The Long-Term Effects Of Cocaine Use?
  3. National Library Of Medicine — Causes Of Death Among Crack Cocaine Users
  4. National Library Of Medicine — Cocaine Intoxication

Written by Spring Hill Recovery Editorial Team

© 2024 Spring Hill Recovery | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

Prefer Texting?
We've got you covered.

Receive 24/7 text support right away.
There is no obligation and you can opt out at any time.

Sign up for text support

Receive 24/7 text support right away.
There is no obligation and you can opt out at any time.
Let us walk you through the treatment process. We're here to help.
For 24/7 Treatment Help:
100% Free & Confidential. Call (978) 321-2696
(978) 321-2696