Rehab 4 Addiction

Cocaine is a dangerous stimulant that increases stress on the cardiovascular system.

Beta-blockers are a popular medicinal drug that can be used to reduce similar cardiovascular stress.

However, when these two drugs combine without proper medical guidance, the effects can be extremely dangerous.

The cardiovascular effects of cocaine

Cardiovascular risks

Cocaine is a stimulant drug, one that can be smoked, snorted or directly injected.

As one of the most commonly abused drugs globally, emergency rooms are frequently home to patients who have suffered the adverse effects of cocaine use.

As a stimulant, cocaine has the dangerous effect of speeding up a person’s cardiovascular system.

Because it causes irregular beating of the heart, it can result in cardiovascular distress, heart attack and even fatal heart failure.

How does propranolol (beta-blockers) work?

Beta blockers

In complete contrast to cocaine, beta-blockers slow the heart, and in doing so lower blood pressure.

Beta-blockers do this by blocking hormones such as adrenaline.

Beta-blockers are commonly prescribed for those who have suffered or suffer from:

  • Heart attacks
  • Chest pains (angina)
  • Irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia)
  • Heart failure

These people should never, under any circumstances, mix cocaine with beta-blockers.

But unfortunately, this combination isn’t uncommon in cocaine users.

Physical interaction between cocaine and beta-blockers

Cocaine and beta blockers

Across the world, individuals addicted to cocaine find themselves suffering its consequences on the cardiovascular system.

Many users mix cocaine with other substances, including alcohol, heroin and beta-blockers.

But what exactly does cocaine do to the body?

Firstly, cocaine simultaneously increases the need for oxygen while restricting blood flow to the heart muscle, limiting the amount of oxygen delivered to the heart.

These low oxygen levels are a common cause of chest pain, heart attack and heart failure.

The adverse effects of cocaine create a tremendous amount of stress for the cardiovascular system.

In contrast, beta-blockers open up the blood vessels and are often used for battling and reducing cardiovascular stress.

But beta-blockers only have this positive effect when taken as prescribed and not when mixed with other drugs.

When mixing beta-blockers with stimulants like cocaine, the effectiveness of beta-blockers is massively reduced.

In these cases, beta-blockers instead constrict blood vessels further, reducing the amount of oxygen available in the body and the essential organs.

This effect worsens the already dangerous impact of cocaine on the cardiovascular system.

Cocaine and beta-blockers side effects

side effects

When you use cocaine and beta-blockers together, it defeats the intended protective heart benefits of beta-blockers.

People predisposed to heart conditions, high blood pressure and chest pain should never consume cocaine.

These people are already at an increased risk of cardiovascular events like blood clots or heart attacks, meaning they should never mix cocaine and beta-blockers.

If they do, beta-blockers will not be able to protect their cardiovascular system.

Unfortunately, it’s common for users to manage the negative symptoms of cocaine use with beta-blockers. As a hazardous practice, users put themselves at significant risk of the below side effects:

  • Beta-blockers work by slowing down the heart and widening the veins and arteries to improve blood flow. In contrast, mixing cocaine and beta-blockers further constricts the blood vessels to the heart, causing Vasospasm.
  • Vasospasm can go undetected with no apparent side effects and cause chest pain. This constriction leads to less blood flow and oxygen and risks tissue damage, heart attack and death.
  • An increase in blood pressure that goes against the normal function of beta-blockers adds extra stress to the cardiovascular system.
  • The symptoms of high blood pressure are commonly silent. However, some individuals may experience confusion, severe headaches, difficulty breathing, and chest pain in extreme cases.

If you experience any of these symptoms while using beta-blockers and cocaine, seek medical advice immediately and do not continue to self-medicate.

Treating cocaine toxicity, induced acute coronary syndrome and chest pain 


As a significant worldwide problem, cocaine abuse needs thorough treatments to combat its ill health effects.

Cocaine use can result in cocaine toxicity in just minutes to hours after excessive cocaine consumption.

As a result, some patients can die suddenly before they have the chance to receive treatment.

Cocaine toxicity leaves patients at severe risk of:

  • Hypertension
  • Dysrhythmia
  • Tachycardia
  • Coronary Vasospasm
  • Stroke
  • Coronary syndrome
  • Death

Getting treatment quickly gives patients a fighting chance against these conditions.

Treatment is often essential, as the risks of cocaine withdrawal mean that quitting cocaine at home can have dangerous consequences.

Treatment methods may include the controlled administration of beta-blockers.

However, there have been controversial opinions about the use of beta-blockers in combatting cocaine-related health concerns such as cocaine toxicity, chest pain and coronary syndrome.

Unopposed alpha-stimulation through beta-blockers

beta blockers

It was once thought that beta-blockers would worsen any cardiovascular problems and precipitate Coronary Vasospasm due to the unopposed alpha-receptor stimulation.

Unopposed alpha-stimulation is a phenomenon where there is an acute increase in blood pressure and a worsening of the constriction of the coronary arteries.

In contrast, several studies in recent years suggest that patients benefit from the administration of beta-blockers when demonstrating cocaine-related chest pain and myocardial ischemia.

Other research suggests that administrating beta-blockers for chest pain associated with recent cocaine use does not appear to have any adverse effects.

Instead, a significant reduction in cardiovascular death was noted.

Other studies found that the administration of beta-blockers to heart failure patients with active cocaine use had a neutral or beneficial effect on key outcomes.

These studies suggest that beta-blocker therapy is safe and helpful for cardiovascular issues after cocaine use.

However, each study admits that the evidence is limited and requires further investigation on a larger scale.

Only then can we determine whether or not beta-blockers are safe for treating cocaine toxicity, chest pain and acute coronary syndrome.

Treatment for cocaine addiction without beta-blockers


Patients who suffer from cocaine-related health issues can worry about the controversy of using beta-blockers to treat them.

But there is good news. There are other substance abuse treatments apart from beta-blockers that deal with cocaine abuse and cocaine addiction.

At Rehab 4 Addiction, we would always recommend you reach out to a professional inpatient or outpatient treatment centre for the safest way to overcome your cocaine addiction.

You should never stop using cocaine at home, either cold-turkey or through the use of beta-blockers.

The sudden loss of cocaine to your body can have extremely dangerous consequences.

It’s much safer to seek treatment at a rehab centre that can offer you a safe, medically managed detox process.

Entering a cocaine rehab programme means you will be safely monitored and treated by highly trained and equipped medical staff.

Doing so ensures you can minimise the dangers of withdrawal and any co-occurring or long-term health problems to give you the best chance of success in your sobriety journey.

Enrolling in a professional cocaine rehab treatment plan means you’ll receive a treatment plan suited to your exact needs.

What’s more, you’ll have access to any medical care you need, essential therapies, and a relapse prevention plan that’s vital for life after rehab.

Get help today

Help today

Cocaine addiction carries a significant impact upon mental health and decision making, as well as many threats to physical health and organs like the liver.

What beta-blockers might seem like a good way to ease some of its worst effects on the cardiovascular system, these drugs should never be combined without professional medical supervision.

If you or a family member struggle with cocaine addiction, don’t delay in getting help.

At Rehab 4 Addiction, we can discuss all of your options with you and ensure you receive the proper care to combat cocaine addiction, whether that includes beta-blockers or not. You can learn more about cocaine addiction treatment here.



Boris is our editor-in-chief at Rehab 4 Addiction. Boris is an addiction expert with more than 20 years in the field.  His expertise covers a broad of topics relating to addiction, rehab and recovery. Boris is an addiction therapist and assists in the alcohol detox and rehab process. Boris has been featured on a variety of websites, including the BBC, Verywell Mind and Healthline.