Crack overdose: How much amount of crack to OD?

How does an overdose on crack happen and what are the signs of crack overdose? We review here.

minute read

Crack overdose is dependent on tolerance and is related to how crack works in the brain. Crack intoxication usually follows three (3) phases: an early phase of stimulation, a second phase of hyper-stimulation with possible tonic convulsions, tachyarrhythmia, and/or dyspnea, and a third phase of depression of the central nervous system. But how do you know if/when you’ve overdosed on crack? And what are the signs and prognosis for someone overdosing on crack? We review here and invite your questions about crack, crack addictive qualities, or help for crack addictions at the end.

How does a crack overdose happen?

Crack is made of cocaine hydrochloride that has been processed with ammonia or baking soda and water into a form called “freebase”. The mixture is cooled and filtered, and then the “chips, chunks or “rocks” are smoked in a crack pipe.

Smoking crack is a dangerous route of administration by itself, simply because of the way the drug enters the system. When smoked, the drug enters the bloodstream quickly and then crosses the blood-brain barrier to affect neurotransmitters of the central nervous system. chest pain with convulsions can occur during crack inhalation. Additionally, unintentional overdoses of crack can be common, and are almost always caused by the urge for a stronger “high”.

Another common mistakes is poly-drug abuse, which increases the effects of both drugs to dangerous levels. Additionally, the quality of cocaine present in processed crack can vary a lot, and it’s usually difficult to verify the purity of crack bought on the street. Depending on the demographic region, street purity of crack varies from 20% to 80%. However, the more hands that touch the drug, the smaller percentage of purity you get. So, for example, some people might smoke a larger amount of diluted crack, without being aware that in the next dose, a purer sample of crack can cause overdose.

Crack overdose – How much is too much?

In general, crack overdose depends on a person’s tolerance to cocaine. Chronic use of cocaine, high levels of tolerance, or addiction, can increase your tolerance to crack. And while it takes a different dose of crack to cause overdose in any individual person, anything higher than 5 grams has been proven to cause heart attacks.

Crack overdose complications

One of the myths related to crack is that is less harmful than powder cocaine, because it has a shorter half-life. The idea that crack cannot cause severe damage or overdose effects is false. In fact, the amount of time crack stays in the body has nothing to do with the level harm that crack can do. Furthermore, crack is highly addictive. The most common signs and symptoms of crack overdose include:

  • agitation
  • cold sweats
  • coma
  • confusion
  • coughing that produces black mucus
  • excessive tremors
  • fainting
  • fever
  • hallucinations
  • insomnia
  • itching
  • narrowed pupils
  • problems breathing
  • seizures
  • severe headache
  • shallow breathing
  • slowing heart rate
  • stopping pulse
  • violent behavior
  • vomiting

Crack overdose prognosis

Prolonged use of crack causes adverse effects on the body and brain.

Chronic intoxication and overdose with crack can lead to anorexia, causing weight loss, physical exhaustion, behavioral problems and chronic depression. Furthermore, immunoallergic lung disease can require additional treatment in a medical facility and may develop into a chronic condition. Crack overdose can also cause the development of hemoptysis, pleuritic chest pain, pulmonary infiltrates, asthma, and reactive airway disease. Not to mention the high risk of overdose during pregnancy, which will cause vaginal bleeding, miscarriage and fetus dependent on cocaine.

Crack overdose death rate

Mortality risk among crack cocaine users is greater than that of the general population. About 10% of fatalities are caused directly by overdose effects. The most common fatalities related to crack overdose are include the loss of vital functions, partial or full body paralysis, coma, and respiratory and circulatory collapse. Up to 75% of cases of overdose deaths occur within 5 hours after crack administration and the rest occur within 1-2 hours after administration.

Crack overdose amount questions

Emergency visits caused by crack overdose cases are outnumbered only by alcohol overdose. If you’d like to learn more about crack addiction, how you can find the best crack cocaine addiction treatment program for you, what does the rehab process entail, and crack aftercare options. Help is available TODAY.

If you still have questions about the risks of crack, please feel free to post your questions in the comments section below. Or share a personal opinion. We will try to provide you with a personal and prompt response ASAP.

Reference sources: Indiana Governor Page:Cocaine & Crack
National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration: Cocaine
National Library of Medicine: Causes of death among crack cocaine users
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.


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  1. I noticed a reacurring comment on here about coughing up black shit , stop using any ash , use several gauzes for hash pipes in a glass stem or a pipe that would suit, saves you a fortune on ash if u don’t smoke and in my experience my lungs noticed the difference after a few days .ive heard that using ash gives you “black lung” which apparently isn’t very nice , I get rattling pipes of crack ain’t either but still some harm reduction can’t hurt !!!!!!!!

  2. Just thinking about the past. Back in late 80s I lived outside Detroit. $20 for a rock, 3 for $50. They were finding bodies in the alley because people would have heart attacks on that shit. Has quality in coke changed or just the way people make it. Nothing like it anymore.

  3. I lost my mum 18 months ago. I allowed a no good loser to introduce and show me how to wash up coke with bicarbonate. I have smoked about 3grams over a week. I wait half hr between each hit. I make sure I eat and hydrate. I’m wondering if I am at less risk of an overdose? Although I know that each body is different and no one is immune. I’m just trying to use as safe as possible? I know it sounds stupid but I can’t stop yet

    1. Dear no one. Thank you for leaving a comment. I am so sorry for the loss of your mother. I cannot imagine what you’re going through. I can tell that it’s difficult for you to stop. Crack is super addictive. Just know that even though you’re cooking it yourself, the risk of overdose is high…especially if you’re dosing so frequently. In order to practice harm reduction, check out some non-profit literature:

      Or, please call us to talk about quitting. You can quit for good and learn how to live without it.

  4. I lost my mum, allowed a no good loser to show me how to cook up. I have been for about 18 months almost daily. I do about 3 grams over a week. I wait half hour between each hit, I make sure I eat and hydrate throughout the day. Am I at less risk of an overdose? I know no one is immune and everybody is different but I want to do it as safely as possible if you know I gat I mean?

  5. Please don’t do this shit people . I am off to visit my friend who’s only 33 he did this shit on and off for 15 years. He overdosed early April in front of his son at a park , the paramedics brought him bAck he was in a coma up until a couple weeks ago now he only have 5 percent of his brain and he seizures 80 % of the day . We are gearing up to say our goodbyes . Saddest thing I have ever seen . Prior to his overdose he had a couple fainting spells , seizures and black outs. Don’t do this to your family people get help now before it’s too late

  6. I’ve been smoking for about 15years now I relapsed. The first time I tried crack cocaine I was in my teens and quickly stopped after about a year. Unfortunately 15 years ago something traumatic happened and I was not strong enough to deal with it and find closer. I suffer from depression and anxiety. I want to stop but every time I try something happens and I’m off to the races again. Please help I don’t want to die like this.

    1. Hi Ivonne. Call the helpline you see on the website to get in touch with a trusted treatment consultant who can help you find the best rehab for you.

  7. If it was a super small dose or better yet a light hight from the pipe then hours latter a weed man give you a donation of weed with h after speed up the process of the crack getting where it need to be then you start hearing voice of yours ex and that guys she sleeping with yell at you for smoking crack I guess what I’m saying is how long will the hallucination and the chest pain and the nerve damage will last since it was only a small dose of crack mix with weed being supplementing into the system of the body

  8. All good things in moderation.simply put if If YOU are a party animal learn ur limits.As u age it may be harder on ur heart but so is sex.

  9. I lost my son to crack in march 2018,I had no idea he was taking it,I’m absolutely devastated,he was only 27

  10. I seen someone go in to tremble and shakes for about 5 minutes was scary. They thought it was just normal but a higher buzz ?

  11. I just started smoking crack, and I sometimes have to repeatedly splash cold water on my face, neck, arms, and drink cold water for about 2 to 3 minutes to clam myself down and stop my heart from racing. Why does that happen?

  12. I’v been getting chest pain in the middle area of my chest , tightness in my left arm. All after smoking crack and heroin. Is this bad ? Do I need help ?

  13. What happens when ammonia is not washed properly out of crack , I smoked some and have a bad headache and vomiting

  14. I’m 27 and started smoking a few months ago in September after a traumatic situation in my life (losing my father). It simply makes me feel good, however after smoking a lot (at least 5 times a week since September) I’m starting to notice the side effects of the drug. Dryer skin, dry lips, weight loss. Honestly I’ve tried it only a handful of times before my father’s death and never got addicted, but now I can admit that I’m addicted and need help before these side effects get worse. I’m thinking of doing a detox and speaking to a psychologist. That’s my new year’s resolution, I pray we all get better in 2018.

  15. My fiance or girlfreind has been smokinng crack for years and nothing has happened to her besides belching headaches and agitation and very quick temper and mood changes shes mean withoout crack but becomes a kitten with smoking crack she smokes 300 to 500 dollars.of crack a day and she had pain in her kidneys and went to the hospital and took mediction. Now still smoking crack nothing happens to her howcome she immune from death or commplications

  16. I was with my ex for over 30 years. When we met his smoked pot and occasionally used crack. I didn’t do drug so I went into the relationship with limited information. He went several years with an occasional binge but still worked and held it together. Then he couldn’t control himself any more. My kids hate what he has become. I divorced him. He blames all of us. He went to rehab several times and has been in and out of the hospital. He is still alive but not the smart, nice guy he was. What did I learn from his rehab visits? That they will relapse (as you get older you lose your inhibitions naturally so it gets harder to refrain from using that is why so many people fail over the long run) and the time between binges will get shorter because the brain opens more receptors which makes it harder to close them up. I wish he had stayed sober. Horrible to watch.

  17. I wanna quit sooo bad… but then i cant… ihave been using it for 11 years… i dont know how to live without smoking crack :'( even though i know its desTroying my life

    1. Hi Kino. Call the Cocaine Helpline on 1-888-497-6879 to get in touch with dependable hotline professionals available 24/7. You will be talking to someone knowledgeable about cocaine abuse, rehab and recovery centers who can help you find a cocaine recovery program.

  18. A friend of mine told me about this time when hr smoked a massively large amount of crack in one gut and as soon as he exhaled he became very dizzy and began to shake like crazy from side to side for about ten minutes. What is happening to or body to cause that and how dangerous is the reality of that

  19. My friend abused crack so severely then went to a drug treatment center. A week later he is in cou with respirator, coma, (opens eyes and makes facial expressiins)arms and feet are tied which he tries to move. Has oral respirator which he makes facial painful expressions. Can a person have re so distress and a heart attack a week after severe abuse. Why didn’t drug treatment center pick up on it? What are his chances for survival? Thank you. Oh can there be brain damage?

    1. Hi Patty. I’m really sorry about your friend. It seems to me that you should seek answers from the medical staff at the drug treatment center.

  20. Please help me my friend died he had coke in he’s system he was vommitting and diarrhea had a heartattack and died I want to know how this can be please help me

    1. Hi Misa. I’m really sorry for your loss… What did the medical report claim? Maybe, he died from cocaine OD.

  21. My now ex boyfriend has been a alcoholic/ crack addict for years. This last weekend after a 3 day binge he comes to my place sicker than a dog. Over the next 3 days I took him to the ER twice. They say acid reflux and gastritis and constipation. He takes all the meds STILL really sick for next 4 days. He’s lost a lot of weight (skeletal). Can’t eat. Lot of stomach pain. Still committing. Could he have been poisoned?

  22. I have been a druggy for 25+ years now. I was never really addicted to anything because I would keep things moderation, basically I smoked weed everyday and do other drugs on the weekend. This lasted up until about 4 years ago to present. Now I’m not just addicted to heroin and crack but I love the feeling they give me. I tried suboxone and did a lot of councilling and group meetings but nothing has worked for me. The problem I don’t want to quit but I know I need to quit. It’s really hard when you know you need to but can’t because you love the feeling drugs produce. I feel like im a lost cause but any help or advice would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Hi James. Call the helpline you see on the website to speak with a trusted treatment consultant who can guide you on what to do next. The number is free, confidential, and available 24/7.

  23. Ive smoke crack for 12 hrs straight somedays. And my heat beats so fast and hard. I really want to quite before i overdose but cant. I cant afford treatment. What can i do

  24. I know this is an old post but i feel that I have to say, everybody and everybodys heart varies, and the heart is the organ that gives up on overdosed to stimulants. Many variables effect it, like sleep, caffeine, age, your general physical shape ect, but the worst fact to consider is the cut in many batches of crack, usualy being methamphetamine. It dissolves in water just like coke and vaporizes in a pipe mixed with crack. Be careful out there and always be cautious when using different dope, no two batches are ever the same.

  25. I have been with my boyfriend for a year and a half. We reconnected after 26 years on face book of all places, I would always tell him, I lost him 26 years ago, and I would never lose him again. We had planned to get married, he had a heart of gold, and an infectious smile, laugh, he touched everyone that ever came across him, such a smart, intelligent man, with so many goals and dreams, and He was 47 years old. I found out about his crack use a few weeks after he moved in with me, he was still able to maintain a job, however would go on binges and come home, after two days broke. I was a continued cycle that I removed myself from many times, however I believed he would quit. I loved this man. On, July 8th after an argument about money and his drug use, he left and never returned. I knew where he was going..the weekend past no calls, no texts, another male answered his phone, he never showed up for work, which was odd. I knew in my heart something was wrong..he was gone. The pain and suffering me and his parents went through for that month was horrific. I had filed a missing person police report a few days after he went missing, and nothing, police didn’t care. Just another crack head to them, But to us he was a person, that was loved by many. I received the call form the detective I had been working with on August 4th, that he was deceased, and was found in an abandoned house. What brings me more pain, is that he was laying in a morgue since July 10th, identified but unclaimed. He was finally laid to rest on August 16, 9 days before his 48th birthday. I beg that anyone that is using, it doesn’t matter what it is, get the help, please. Because you are not only hurting yourself, you are hurting your loved ones. I miss him every day, his touch, his smell, his love for music, our dates, our talks, everything we shared and my life will never be the same. A part of my soul is gone. I lost my mother to drugs also!! I never thought I would lose him, and so soon. I know it’s a demon that many fight thru the years, but please reach out to someone, and get help. There is no way you can overcome this alone!!

  26. London lass here been using Heroin for 3 yrs was clean for 18 yrs and started smoking heroin again that was my love then my drug partner sadly introduced me to crack and it has taken over my life , I am in debt with everything – I like it as I have Addisons disease and the side effects are severe tiredness so I am now caught in a catch 22 as crack wakes me up and I can get on with my life and get stuff done …today it seems to be not working ? is it me ? am i immune now – I smoke usually 3 a day and today I have had 5 ..not doing much and why does it make u sleepy?
    If anyone can suggest what else i could take to wake me up that would be great ( I lost my adrenals to a rare illness Cushings disease which is an endocrine illness -the adrenals are like the batterys ) I’m happy I don’t think about heroin anymore but it’s the W grrrrrr , worried for my lungs -over here in the uk we smoke from a Martell glass brandy bottle with wire mesh at the top – god knows what that heated hot metal does ! peace and love X

  27. I could of died today. Weather nearly a hundred degrees. Walking outside or sitting on the bench. Using crack cocaine. After inhaling , went straight to my brain than to my chest. Sweating, bad. Nervous the police are coming I start walking away.

    1. Hi Jas. Usually, crack can be detected in urine 2-4 days after use. But, detection time-frame increases to 12-14 days for chronic or binge users.

  28. Hi Sharene, and to everyone, motivation from the patient is vital. It can also be kindled by a skilled therapist. I have worked in different clinical settings of rehabilitation centers, practicing acupuncture on addict patients + mental health evaluation and rehabilitation patients. Some people specialize in helping other people reconnect with their inner motivation and engagement towards life. Sorry for hearing about a relative that did not turn out well. I hope you find peace. For emergencies please call 911.

  29. Hi Jill I know how you fill … I found out 4 months ago that my partner of 28 years is on crack he is 47, He was very suicidal and begged me not to leave. He wanted help so I stayed as I to love him things were going ok for a while now I believe he was just waiting till we got back to work for the money to start coming in as we worked for our selves. What makes his addiction worst is he has bipolar and been on OxyContin for 5 years for his back so with his medication and crack its a cocktail. He said his only been on it for a year I didn’t know as we worked different shifts when he started using, three weeks ago I walked out we have lost every think. I still here from him saying we will be right in a few months he just needs to get his head right thinks his going to keep the company going said one of his friends is going to buy my share LOL I now know there is nothing any one can do for people addicted to that drug I seen him yesterday for the first time since I left omg he doesn’t even look like the person I have been with for 28 years. A friend said to me last week that CRACK is the worst drug and the only person that can help an addict is the addict as it takes your sole. I believe that to be so true…

  30. I have been with my boyfriend for 3 years and he is a crack addict. He stays clean for about 3 months and then uses again. He has used 15 times to the point I have to kick him out. He has been gone again for 10 weeks. He pawned everything he owns, he is living with a fellow drug addict, stealing and conning anyone, hasn’t shaved or cut his hair in 3 months, and doesn’t shower. This is the worst I have ever seen him. He is telling his sister (she is the only one who talks to him) that he wants to die. I am very scared for him. I have been going to celebrate recovery and getting help. I will not have contact with him because I just can’t live this way anymore. I love him with all my heart, but I just can’t do it anymore. He is 47 years old and I’m so scared he is going to die. I want to reach out to him but I have been trying to “save” him for 3 years. I just don’t know what to do. If he dies I will never be able to live with myself. Someone please tell me what to do.

  31. I have been smoking crack everyday for six years. Forty to eighty dollars a day. I’ve recently not been able to breathe. Black mucus numb limbs bluish lips dizzy heart pounding itchy severe headaches. I want to stop but haven’t been successful. Feel like death is imminent. Getting close to Jesus. Scared.

    1. Hi Kay. Why don’t you call the helpline on our site to get in touch with trusted treatment consultants to learn more about your treatment options.

  32. this site is a great idea but most people write in when theyve hit desperation&nowhere to turn to&would like an answer pretty quick if atleast just to put their minds at rest,maybe im stupid for writing in at 12/1am especially as its now officially good friday&there is probably no-one there to even read these comments??anyway i went with the aspirin as headache was just too bad&as yet no ill effects,thanks if you do take time to read these posts but i think by the time theyve went through the moderators my headache should hopefully have abated but i would still like to know between amonia or bicarb is one more likely to cause headaches than the other,thanks again…

  33. hi,just wondered if im more likely to get headaches off crack made up with bicarb or amonia or is it more down to the purity of the product&the ability of the person(S)cooking up?thanks in advance
    i only ask because ive had a relapse binge&got powder 1st which i cooked myself using bicarb&all was fine,then inevitably wanted more but my man had run out of powder so had to buy rock done with amonia&although it was fine strength wise about half an hour later i started to get headaches&i only have aspirin indoors which im wary of taking because of the blood thinning properties of aspirin,seems crazy i know after the stuff i already ingested but i dont need the blood going to my brain any faster than it already is,again thamks in advance also im prescribed methadone90mls daily but take that around 9;30am&thats 9hours away which is a long time to sit with a headache&im not in an area where there is any drugstore/chemists open either to but any alternatives..thanks any advice would be welcome…

  34. Van you doe after using once a week for goingbon 3’4 months like 60 hours straight was 48 hours but 60 easy without even realizijg that days went by??can you die after stopping 1am say next night 10 pm slight chest pains?

  35. Thanks for the information you’ve provided. I look forward to hearing from you with the answer to my question: DOES THE HEART ACTUALLY BURST WHEN FOLK SAY “HIS/HER HEART BURST FROM OVERDOSING ON ONCRACK COCAINE”? My question is can crack cocaine cause the heart to burst

  36. Iv’d my last shot at 4am been doing it since ten and meth since 1245. I iv everything my heart is just shaking not beating I’m too scared to go to hospital I can barely breathe anyone have a home remedy

    1. Hi Ang. You cannot rely on home remedies in this case. Do you have a friend or a family member you can call to take you to the hospital? If not, than Call 911.

  37. I’ve been smoking crack on and off for 25years. I’ve spent thousands of dollars on this shit. It’s taken over my life. I’m really tired of living like this. I’ve been to programs but you have to want to stop first and listen to the suggestion’s given. I don’t know why I can’t stop this shit!

    1. Hi Junior. From all the resources on disposal, my advise is to call the helpline number you can find on our site. You will get in touch with our trusted treatment providers that can help you find the best treatment program fit for your addiction problem. I believe that you too can stop smoking crack with the right treatment program and motivation.

  38. Please if you do crack get help before it to late my brother die on Aug 3/15/this years he was only 47years old he got in to it bad and spend a lot of money he was a very close to me till he got in to that shit we share a lot of good time togetther over the years now he gone don,t let this happen to you .please god bless .rip mike my brother.

  39. If experiencing bad headache and chest pain should u go to er is it signs of od? They smoked probably close to 4 or 5 gms since lastnight plz I need advice

    1. Hi Sassy. Call the Poison Control Center on 1-800-222-1222 to speak to a poison expert and have your risk of overdose assessed. If necessary, they will provide you with instructions on what you should do next.

  40. How will I know if i should call 911 I smoked about thirty minutes ago and the amount was a total off about 100 dollars worth my neck feels funny and my heart is beating hard I fEel like trying to take a nap but I’m scared and willdrinking water help?

    1. Hi Edward. Are you feeling any of the overdose symptoms listed above? For an immediate help you can Call the Poison Control Center on 1-800-222-1222 for a free and over-the phone assessment of the risk of overdose. Poison experts will then advise on what you should do next.

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