Cocaine is an illegal stimulant drug that affects your central nervous system. It is derived from the Erythroxylum coca plant, which is found in abundance in Central America, South America, the West Indies, and Indonesia. It produces a sense of extreme joy by causing the brain to release higher than normal amounts of some biochemicals. However, cocaine's effects on other parts of the body can be very serious, or even deadly.
Cocaine intoxication may be caused by:
Symptoms of cocaine intoxication include:
With higher doses, sweating, tremors, confusion, hyperactivity and muscle damage, hyperthermia (seriously elevated body temperature), kidney damage, seizures, stroke, irregular heart beats, and sudden death can occur.
The health care provider will measure and monitor the patient's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure.
Symptoms will be treated as appropriate. A class of medications called benzodiazepines are given to calm slow a rapid heart beat, and lower blood pressure, and treat anxiety and/or agitation. The medicines include diazepam and lorazepam. Fluids will be administered through a vein. Heart, brain, muscle and kidney complications will be treated with additional medications.
Long-term treatment requires drug counseling in combination with medical therapy.
Perrone J, Hoffman RS. Cocaine, amphetamines, caffeine, and nicotine. In: Tintinalli JE, Kelen GD, Stapczynski JS, Ma OJ, Cline DM, eds. Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide. 6th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2004:chap 168.
Shih RD, Hollander JE. Cocaine. In: Wolfson AB, Hendey GW, Ling LJ, et al, eds. Harwood-Nuss' Clinical Practice of Emergency Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2009:chap 329.
Review Date: 4/5/2013
Reviewed By: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
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