Crack Cocaine Overdose

Crack cocaine, commonly known simply as crack, and also known as rock, is a free base form of cocaine that can be smoked. Crack offers a short, intense high to smokers. The Manual of Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment calls it the most addictive form of cocaine. A crack addict is known as a "crackhead"

Depending on the severity of crack cocaine overdose, an individual may experience one to all of the following symptoms:

  • Agitation: When someone consumes a significant amount of crack cocaine, it is common for them to experience a state of agitation. Holding a conversation with someone in this state can be difficult. Agitation symptoms, such as nervousness and anxiety, may become magnified if they have overdosed.
  • Black phlegm: People commonly abuse crack cocaine by smoking it. When someone chronically smokes crack, it can weaken their immune system and lessen their body’s ability to resist lung infections. Smoking crack can result in bleeding within the lungs which causes some people to cough up black phlegm (dried blood) or blood. Coughing blood is a sign that the body is quickly deteriorating as a result of crack cocaine abuse and should be addressed immediately.
  • Itchiness: Due to the increase in blood pressure caused by the drug, some people under the influence of crack may become extremely itchy. Some individuals may be more susceptible to an itching response than others. If someone is unable to control their itching or complains that it is far worse than usual, there is a substantial likelihood that they have overdosed.
  • Cold sweats: As a stimulant, crack can cause someone to experience a fight-or-flight response (due to overstimulation in the brain), which results in a cold sweat. Cold, clammy skin and an inability to maintain constant body temperature can be a reliable indicator that someone has overdosed on crack cocaine.
  • Irregular heartbeat: Increased heart rate is a side effect produced by crack cocaine abuse. When someone complains that it feels as if their heart is beating out of their chest or that they can hear their heartbeat in their head, they are likely experiencing an overdose.
  • Cardiac arrest or stroke: In some cases, an irregular heartbeat can cause additional cardiovascular issues such as heart attack and stroke, both of which can be lethal. If someone grabs at their chest, is having difficulty breathing or falls unconscious, it is likely that they are experiencing cardiac arrest. If someone is weak on one side of their body, has a drooping face, or sudden problems speaking, it is likely they are experiencing a stroke.
  • Seizures: The link between crack cocaine abuse and seizures is complex. The method of abuse (snorting, injecting or smoking) dramatically affects the type and intensity of the seizure someone may experience. When someone smokes or injects crack, they are more likely to have a generalized seizure (affects the whole brain). If crack is snorted, individuals are more likely to experience partial or idiopathic seizures (affect only part of the brain). Either type of seizure indicates a significant issue and is an indicator of crack cocaine overdose.
  • Psychosis: Psychosis is a mental state characterized by a disconnect with reality. People who are under the influence of high doses of crack cocaine may experience hallucinations (seeing things that are not real) and hostile or violent behavior. When an individual overdoses on crack, psychological symptoms become more intense and can result in self-harm or harm to others.


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