The Relationship Between Cocaine and Anxiety

Anxiety and cocaine addiction often go hand-in-hand, so much so that many people wonder if cocaine abuse causes anxiety. While some believe that cocaine abuse can lead to anxiety disorders, others question why anxiety can result in individuals using cocaine to self-medicate.
Here, we look at the relationship between the two and explain what you can do if you’re worried about yourself or a loved one.


Side Effects of Cocaine Use

When cocaine enters the body, it impacts a chemical in the brain called dopamine. This is associated with our feel-good triggers and results in feelings of pleasure. In cases where cocaine is used, it intensifies the feelings leading to a high. Over time, the body and brain become used to the increased stimulation caused by cocaine and can begin to rely on it. This is known as dependence.

Short-term cocaine use can lead to feelings of excitement, happiness and confidence. However, other sides of cocaine include:

  • Faster heart rate
  • Increased body temperature
  • Sickness
  • Paranoia
  • Anxiety

Regular cocaine use can also lead to panic attacks, heart attacks, depression, and generally feeling unwell and run down. As cocaine impacts the way in which the brain works, long-term use can result in long-lasting mood changes and restlessness.


Can Cocaine Cause Anxiety?

Most drugs work by altering the function of the brain, which results in euphoric or relaxed feelings sought by the individual. As mentioned, long-term cocaine use can temporarily alter the brain and lead to increased anxiety and paranoia. This is because cocaine is a stimulant, just like caffeine, and these are known to increase anxiety as they work by exciting the brain’s neurotransmitters which are responsible for sending messages around the body.

Additionally, cocaine use can lead to sleeping issues, health conditions and illicit behaviours. These can all contribute to feelings of anxiety. We know that the brain and body are linked, and physical stress can often lead to mental anxiety and stress too. What’s more, when someone begins to withdraw from cocaine, the neurotransmitters which have been elevated begin to decrease dramatically. This, itself, leads to depression and anxiety.


Stress, Anxiety, and Addiction: The Cycle

Unfortunately, as with any addiction, individuals become almost trapped in a vicious cycle. In one example, someone suffering from anxiety could use cocaine to self-medicate. While they might feel temporarily more confident and happy, cocaine isn’t treating their anxiety and will instead be worsening symptoms. But, the brain will soon begin to depend on cocaine and unable to function without it – heightening the addiction and anxiety disorder.

In another example, someone may develop an anxiety disorder due to their addiction – which we’ve outlined above. In both situations, the brain will struggle to cope without cocaine and while you might think that the substance is easing your symptoms, it is likely to make them them worse.

By taking steps to mitigate your cocaine addiction, you’ll likely find that your anxiety reduces too and vice versa. At Step One Recovery, we know that’s easier said than done however which is why we’re here to help – whenever you need.


What is Dual Diagnosis?

If you suffer from a mental health condition like anxiety and an addiction, this will be described as a dual diagnosis. Where there are mental health concerns associated with addiction, it’s important that the right diagnosis is provided as treatment needs to be considered for both conditions. Some of the most common signs and symptoms of dual diagnosis include:

  • Using drugs or alcohol to self-medicate and reduce feelings of stress, anxiety or depression
  • Social isolation
  • Change in mood
  • Reckless or irrational behaviour
  • Difficulty maintaining relationships

While dual diagnosis can be used to describe the combination of any mental health condition and addiction, the most common include anxiety disorders, ADHD, PTSD, depression and bipolar disorder.


Rehabilitation Options

If you’re suffering with cocaine addiction and feelings of anxiety, there is help out there. While it might seem scary, often rehab is the only way to get better long-term. In the UK, you have a choice between inpatient and outpatient drug and alcohol rehab facilities. Outpatients receive treatment at a clinic and then return home to recover. Inpatients stay in a private room for the duration of their rehab programme.

It’s important to choose a programme that best suits your needs and goals. For those with additional responsibilities, outpatient treatment provides flexible support. However, inpatient treatment does offer the highest chance of success as you’ll be away from familiar temptation and distraction.

Either way, whatever type of treatment you choose, the aim of alcohol and drug rehab is the same: to treat physical addiction symptoms as well as any mental health concerns and psychological triggers. At Step One Recovery, we combine tried-and-tested therapy with innovative and leading treatment to help individuals to get their life back on track.

Anxiety and cocaine addiction are connected but it’s not always as simple as identifying which caused which. While both conditions might be taking over your life right now, it doesn’t always have to be that. What’s more, a rehab centre like Step One Recovery can provide a safe and supportive environment for you to get better. So, if you want to turn your back on cocaine use and anxiety for good, why not pick up the phone today and call on +44 (0) 330 107 2950. By doing so, you’ll be one step closer to the future you’ve always wanted.