Cocaine as a Preworkout: An Extreme Danger

Cocaine is a stimulant drug with physical effects that include increased blood pressure and heart rate.1,2 In the short-term, this may seem to bolster a person’s physical energy, but on a long-term basis, it could lead to serious adverse cardiovascular consequences, which may be exacerbated by intense physical activity.1,2,3

Can Using Cocaine Before Exercising Be Deadly?

Woman with chest pain after using cocaine and running

Yes, any use of cocaine can be fatal. Cocaine use increases the risk of numerous cardiovascular issues including:1,2

  • High blood pressure.
  • High body temperature.
  • Rapid heart rate.
  • Arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat).
  • Chest pain.
  • Atherosclerosis (a buildup of fatty material on the artery walls).
  • Heart muscle disease.
  • Inflammation of the lining and valves of the heart.
  • Heart attack.

Exercise puts additional stress on the cardiovascular system. The combined effects of cocaine and vigorous exercise may be very dangerous, even in athletes who are young and seemingly healthy. Athletes who use cocaine prior to working out may suffer not only heart attacks but stroke, heat stroke, and rhabdomyolysis (a potentially fatal breakdown of the proteins of damaged muscle tissue into the blood).3

Exercise & Cocaine Abuse

Cocaine experienced a cultural heyday of sorts in the 1960s and 1970s, but the drug may be seeing a resurgence among athletes and others who work out a lot because, as a stimulant, it might be viewed as a performance enhancer.4

Cocaine is viewed by most sports agencies and overseeing organizations as a dangerous, banned substance. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) lists cocaine under stimulants as a banned substance, along with caffeine, Ritalin, Adderall, bath salts, and some nutritional supplements with stimulant chemicals. In fact, some of these supplements contain such potent stimulants that they are referred to as gain cocaine.

Cocaine has a history of misuse by athletes, some of whom view it as a performance enhancer. Some of the earliest reported instances of cocaine being used by athletes occurred in 1904 in the Olympics.5 Cocaine was officially banned by most sports organizations, including the NCAA and the Olympics Committee, in 1985. In that year, 17 percent of NCAA student-athletes reported cocaine use, though much of that may have been as a recreational drug, and not a performance enhancer, per se. By 1997, the number dropped to 1.5 percent.5

In 2016, a heavyweight boxing champion admitted he abused cocaine to treat his depression and incurred greater physical energy as a side effect.3 In 2017, a French rugby player reported that cocaine was abused during recovery sessions and trainings between sporting events, specifically because the drug, combined with a corticosteroid, was essentially untraceable.6

Can I Use Cocaine Before Working Out?

People who work out and want to lose weight or gain a lot of muscle should be more focused on their long-term health rather than seeking quick, unsustainable, and potentially dangerous performance boosts. Although some people may say they use “a little bit” of cocaine to help them focus or feel more energetic, there is no safe amount of this drug to use recreationally.

If you or someone you love is using cocaine and you don’t know where to turn, call us today at . River Oaks, one of American Addiction Centers’ Florida rehab centers, provides highly rated, effective addiction treatment near you. We have numerous treatment options and can help you find a program that’s right for you or a loved one.

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