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Is Cocaine Deadly?

a woman enters cocaine addiction treatment

Cocaine is a type of stimulant drug. It is naturally derived from the leaves of the South American coca plant. Cocaine does have valid medical uses, though they are limited. Most cocaine in the United States is an illegal variety that comes in a white powder form. Cocaine is often cut with other substances, some benign and others less so.

The harmless substances used to make a supply of cocaine go farther when it is sold include cornstarch or flour, but dangerous drugs like fentanyl or amphetamine are also often mixed in with cocaine. Cocaine is deadly on its own in the wrong amount. Taking cocaine that is mixed with other drugs poses an even greater risk.

Contact Rockland Recovery at 855.732.4842 to learn more about our Massachusetts cocaine addiction treatment center.

The Effects of Cocaine and How It Is Used

Cocaine is typically snorted through the nose or rubbed on the gums. It can also be dissolved in water and injected into the bloodstream, and another form of ingesting cocaine is by smoking its crack variety. As a stimulant, many cocaine users engage in binges where they take a lot in a short period of time to maintain a high. This points to one of the biggest dangers of cocaine: overdose and death. Using cocaine repeatedly and in high doses can easily result in an overdose.

Cocaine affects the brain by releasing a large amount of dopamine. Dopamine is a natural brain chemical that regulates pleasure and positive emotion. Cocaine interferes with how dopamine circulates by stopping it from recycling. This eventually leaves people at a dopamine deficit, which can drive future drug-seeking behavior as it becomes the brain’s primary source of dopamine. Other, more tangible, cocaine effects include:

  • High energy levels
  • Mental alertness
  • Irritability
  • Paranoia
  • Sensitivity to stimuli such as noise or touch

The high from cocaine is short-lived. Other health effects of cocaine are nausea, elevated heart rate, muscle twitching, and restlessness. Cocaine abuse over time also puts people at risk of developing health issues. These differ based on the method used to ingest cocaine. The long-term dangers of cocaine are explored more in the following section.

Is Cocaine Deadly?

As outlined earlier, one of cocaine’s dangers is an overdose which could result in death. That does not happen to most users, but in some instances, cocaine is deadly. What is guaranteed for all users is an impact on physical and mental health.

Cocaine use may feel good in the moment. But the high is fleeting where the negative health outcomes may not be. Each primary method of ingesting cocaine causes a different set of health issues. While they may not point to cocaine as deadly, they are serious issues that plague numerous people who use cocaine.


Snorting cocaine can result in impaired smell, nosebleeds, frequent runny noses, and difficulty swallowing.


Smoking crack cocaine may produce health conditions such as asthma, a higher risk for pneumonia, and breathing troubles.

Oral Consumption

Orally consuming cocaine by rubbing it on the gums can lead to bowel decay resulting from restricted blood flow.


Using cocaine intravenously puts people at higher risk for contracting HIV/AIDS and other bloodborne diseases. In addition, people who use cocaine by injecting it may suffer collapsed or scarred veins.

If you suspect someone may be overdosing on cocaine, it is vital to get them emergency medical care—you may save their life. If you or a loved one is struggling with cocaine abuse or addiction, there is help for you.

Break Cocaine Addiction at Rockland Recovery

The best way to eliminate the dangers of cocaine from your life is to stop using it by seeking out high-quality addiction treatment. A better, safer life is waiting for you. Call 855.732.4842 to explore your addiction treatment options at Rockland Recovery.

Medical Reviewer Kate Perfetti, LADC II

Medically Reviewed by Kate Perfetti, LADC II

Kate is a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor who has worked in the field of substance abuse for the last nine years. At Rockland Recovery, Kate works to provide resources to the local community and engage and progress Rockland Recovery’s alumni program.


Take the First Step Toward Recovery.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, we encourage you to request a confidential call to explore treatment options, ask questions, and receive support from experienced professionals. We know taking this first step can be challenging, but it’s a courageous and important part of the recovery journey.

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