Cocaine, more commonly referred to as “coke,” is a potent stimulant drug that is frequently used in a recreational setting. The National Institute on Drug Abuse notes that cocaine is classified as a Schedule II chemical substance, meaning that it has no legal medical use and that it has a very potential for abuse. The most commonly abused form of cocaine is a white, powder-like substance that is typically ingested nasally, or snorted. Cocaine might also be injected intravenously in its liquid form. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, cocaine abuse throughout the United States has remained somewhat consistent since 2009. In the year 2015, there were a reported 1.5 million cocaine users in the U.S. over the age of 12. It was also discovered that adults aged 18 to 25 used cocaine more frequently than individuals in any other age group. While cocaine is frequently used recreationally and somewhat infrequently, those that abuse this specific chemical substance are liable to develop a wide range of serious health-related issues – including physical and psychological dependence. If you or someone you love has been suffering at the hands of a cocaine addiction, seeking professional addiction treatment is always necessary. Recovering from cocaine addiction without professional intervention often proves impossible based on the highly addictive nature of the substance. At Guardian IOP, we have extensive experience treating men and women of all ages who have been suffering from a cocaine abuse disorder for any length of time.

Cocaine Abuse and Addiction

When it comes to cocaine use, there are a variety of short and long-term effects.

Short-term effects of cocaine use include:

  • Dilated or constricted pupils
  • A sharp and noticeable increase in energy
  • A decrease in appetite
  • Mental alertness
  • Increased social ability/talkativeness
  • An increase in body temperature
  • Constricted blood vessels, leading to increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Heart palpitations
  • Profuse sweating
  • Anxiety and nervousness

Common long-term effects of chronic cocaine use include:

  • Ongoing mood disturbances, usually characterized by irritability, agitation and anger (which can be coupled with violent outbursts)
  • Ongoing restlessness and irritability, which can show up as certain repetitive movements like facial twitching or uncontrollable foot tapping
  • Anxiety-related disorders, which often show up in the form of paranoia or frequent panic attacks
  • Hallucinations, usually auditory and visual (which often contribute to the paranoia)
  • Addiction/physical and psychological dependence
  • Overdose

Cocaine Overdose

Cocaine overdose is not uncommon, and can be lethal if not immediately treated. The national Survey on Drug Use and Health reported a very significant increase in cocaine-related overdose deaths from the year 1999 to the year 2018. In 1999, there were a reported 3,822 overdose-related deaths in the US that were directly attributed to cocaine use. By the year 2018, the number of cocaine-related overdose deaths had jumped to 14,666. The US National Library of Medicine suggests that part of what makes cocaine overdose so common is the short-term effects that the drug has on the physical body. Cocaine leaves the system very quickly, making the feelings of euphoria that a user experiences relatively short-lived. In order to avoid the inevitable comedown, the user will ingest more of the substance shortly after ingesting the first dose – this quickly leads to a vicious cycle of abuse. When an individual uses more cocaine than his or her body can process in a short period of time, overdose is likely to occur.

Common symptoms of cocaine overdose include a combination of physical and psychological symptoms.

At first, the individual is liable to experience psychological symptoms, including:

  • Intense paranoia
  • Delirium
  • Visual and auditory hallucinations
  • Extreme anxiety and panic attacks
  • In inability to sit still or calm down

The psychological symptoms are coupled with physical symptoms, which include:

  • Trouble breathing/hyperventilation
  • Intense chest pain (which might resemble a heart attack)
  • Increased body temperature and profuse sweating
  • Rapid heart rate/heart palpitations
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Body tremors
  • Seizures

What To Do In Case Of An Overdose

If you are with an individual that you believe might be overdosing on cocaine, the most important thing to do is call for emergency help immediately. In many cases, cocaine overdose leads to heart attack when left untreated. This can happen quickly – within the first several minutes of the onset of the overdose. Call 911 as soon as symptoms associated with cocaine overdose appear. The individual who is experiencing symptoms will be taken to the emergency room and treated accordingly. While you wait for emergency responders to arrive, make sure that the individual is laying on his or her side in case of seizures or vomiting. If the individual is acting erratic, try speaking to him or her in a calm manner. It is not likely that you will be able to calm the individual down without some form of sedative (which will be administered by the first responders), but do everything in your power to keep them in one spot until emergency help arrives at the scene.

Cocaine Addiction Recovery

At Guardian IOP, we have extensive experience working with men and women who have experienced cocaine overdose. We know that experiencing an overdose of any kind can be an extremely traumatic experience. In fact, many individuals who have experienced a cocaine overdose in the past suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. For this reason, we offer comprehensive therapeutic care that effectively addresses underlying trauma. We offer individual therapy sessions, group therapy sessions and family therapy sessions to our clients, ensuring that they have access to the most comprehensive and individualized clinical care available.

Cocaine addiction treatment is a multi-phased process, one that begins with medically monitored detox and transitions to inpatient/residential treatment or intensive outpatient treatment. The level of clinical care an individual receives is dependent on his or her personal needs. If the cocaine addiction was moderate or severe, inpatient treatment is an ideal option. If the cocaine abuse disorder was mild and short-lived, and if it did not escalate to overdose (or any other serious personal consequences), IOP might be a better clinical option.

Guardian IOP and Cocaine Addiction Recovery

At Guardian IOP, we provide the highest level of clinical care available. We understand that cocaine addiction can be very difficult to overcome, seeing as the intense psychological cravings often lead an individual back to use before the multi-phased recovery process has come to a close. For this reason, we emphasize the importance of relapse prevention training. If you or someone you love has been suffering at the hands of cocaine abuse or dependence, Intensive Outpatient treatment is always a necessary phase of the multi-phased continuum of care. In our IOP program, we work hard to instill our clients with all of the tools and coping mechanisms they need in order to maintain recovery from cocaine abuse long-term. At Guardian IOP, our admissions process is simple and straightforward. We understand that men and women who have recently completed inpatient treatment need to transfer to IOP as quickly as possible, seeing as if there is a window of time between inpatient and IOP the risk of relapse increases significantly. Simply give our Treatment Advisors a call at any time of the day, and they will walk you through the admissions process from start to finish. For more information on our comprehensive and highly individualized recovery program, give us a call today. We look forward to speaking with you and thoroughly answering any additional questions you may have.


Reviewed for accuracy by:

Anna earned her Masters of Social Work at Barry University in Miami, FL in 2017 and completed her internship in co-occurring disorders. Anna has a Bachelors of Art in Religious Studies from Naropa University and is a certified yoga and meditation instructor. Anna has received specialized training in somatic counseling with an emphasis on body-centered psychotherapy.