Can You Die from Taking Cocaine?

Cocaine has addictive properties which are powerful and illegal. Considered a schedule II controlled substance with some legal therapeutic application as a pain reliever, the drug is highly abused for its pleasurable stimulant effects. It can also cause death in some individuals. Find out more about cocaine and how to look for signs and symptoms of possible addiction and risk of death.



A number of forms make up cocaine including white powder, paste or rock-like formations commonly referred to as ‘crack cocaine,’ Cocaine acts as a strong stimulant substance which can:

  • Produce a rapid-onset, rewarding high
  • Speed up various physiologic processes through central nervous system
  • Influence short and long term health


Short-Term Effects

Cocaine can act quite rapidly in the system depending when it is used. One of the effects on the brain is to increase dopamine release. Dopamine registers positive feelings and ‘rewards’ behavior which led to those feelings. The increase of dopamine can lead to a ‘high.’ Other effects may include:

  • Feelings of euphoria
  • Increased energy
  • Grandiosity
  • Elevated mood


The drug may also temporarily decrease the need for sleep. Some people may use the drug to stay alert or accomplish a strenuous task. It suppresses appetite but may be used as a weight loss tool. Long-term outcomes can show people becoming addicted to cocaine for short-term gains which make it hard to quit the drug without help.


Side Effects

Cocaine use can lead to serious side effects over time. Heart attack is a very real and serious concern, even in those who are young with no prior cardiac history. Some of the potential side effects may include:

  • Tremors
  • Muscle twitches
  • Paranoia
  • Vertigo
  • Constricted blood vessels
  • Dilated pupils
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Decreased sexual function



Overdose is a very real concern for people who take cocaine. Males are more likely to die from taking too much but it can happen to anyone. Overdose can result in the following consequences:

  • Cardiac arrest
  • Stroke
  • Respiratory arrest
  • Sudden death


The risk of overdose is compounded when cocaine is used with another dangerous substance like alcohol or drugs. When combined together, cocaine and heroin are particularly lethal with a serious risk of overdose and sudden death. There are many lasting effects to taking cocaine which leads to long-term health consequences including headaches, chronic fatigue, nosebleeds, significant weight loss, heart arrhythmias and more. When used over a long period of time, cocaine can lead to:

  • Addiction
  • Depression
  • Isolation
  • Separation from family, friends and loved ones
  • Psychosis
  • Paranoia
  • Loss of employment


Seeking Help

Individuals who are addicted to cocaine can receive help from either inpatient or outpatient treatment programs which support detox and addiction support. Treatment is designed to help identify causes for starting cocaine and support the individual in staying clean and sober from the drug. Cocaine is a difficult drug to quit without help so it is recommended an individual speak to a treating physician, counselor or other individual about best options for seeking treatment.


The Villa provides resources and tools to support individuals with cocaine and other addictions. If you or a loved one need help quitting drugs or alcohol, call us to find out how we can help you get healthy and drug free.