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Cocaine and Mental Health

a person leans against a window, worried about cocaine and mental health

Cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant drug that affects the brain in several harmful ways. Some of the mental health damage caused by cocaine can last long after an individual stops using the drug. A dual-diagnosis treatment program is the best option for helping people with cocaine use disorder and other mental health disorders. To learn more about dual-diagnosis treatment at Northpoint Omaha, call 888.687.8014.

What Are Co-Occurring Disorders?

According to experts, approximately 10 million people in the U.S. have a substance use disorder and an additional mental health disorder. Having two or more psychiatric diagnoses is referred to as having co-occurring disorders or dual-diagnosis.
In some cases, individuals begin using drugs as a way to self-medicate an undiagnosed or untreated mental health disorder. The pre-existing mental health concerns most commonly associated with cocaine use are:

  • Depression
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

It is also possible to develop a mental illness due to drug use. Because cocaine changes how the brain’s reward center works, it can cause lasting psychological damage.

Cocaine and Mental Health

Cocaine was initially derived from South American coca leaves. While most of this Schedule II drug still comes from natural sources, it can also be made synthetically.

It is most commonly used as a powder snorted up the nose, smoked, or injected. Crack cocaine is cocaine in the form of small
rocks that can also be snorted, smoked, or injected after crushing.

All forms of cocaine are highly addictive. Cocaine excites the brain’s dopamine receptors and causes them to increase their normal function, temporarily creating an energetic sense of euphoria.

As the effects of the drug wear off, the brain almost immediately begins to crave the euphoria again. Repeated use damages the brain’s ability to produce dopamine naturally. With long-term use, the addicted person can no longer feel pleasure without the flood of dopamine caused by cocaine.

As soon as a person ingests cocaine, the drug begins to affect their mental health. The person might become violent, confused, paranoid, or filled with a sense of panic. An emotional crash or depressive state is common after the effects of the stimulant wear off. The depressive episodes vary in severity but can lead to suicidal thoughts or behavior.

Long-Term Mental Health Effects of Cocaine

There are short-term and long-term impacts to consider regarding cocaine and mental health. If dopamine receptors become too damaged through long-term cocaine use, it can lead to mental illness and other psychological effects.
Some of the most common symptoms associated with cocaine withdrawal include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Hallucinations
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings

The psychological withdrawal symptoms of cocaine may not be permanent, but they can last for months.

Potential long-term effects on mental health include:

  • Mood disorders caused by changes in neurotransmitter production
  • Diminished temporal lobe and prefrontal lobe function
  • Cerebral atrophy (brain shrinkage)
  • Stroke
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Psychosis

The cognitive symptoms associated with long-term cocaine use can affect problem-solving, vocabulary, attention span, memory, and other functions.

Rehab programs that provide treatment for co-occurring disorders have the resources and experience to help people recover from addiction and provide mental health support simultaneously.

Combining evidence-based therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, group therapy, and psychiatric care, provides the tools needed to address each patient’s needs.

Find Help for Co-Occurring Disorders at Northpoint Omaha

At Northpoint Omaha, we understand how difficult it is to live with co-occurring disorders. Many patients fear that their mental health concerns will become more severe without substances to dull their symptoms.

However, addiction only makes mental health symptoms worse in the long run. We can help. Call Northpoint Omaha today at 888.687.8014 to learn more about co-occurring diagnosis and treatment benefits.