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The Connection Between Anxiety Disorder and Cocaine Addiction

jrtempleton - April 26, 2018

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Cocaine addiction and anxiety go hand-in-hand, and many people often wonder if cocaine use causes anxiety. These two issues have a very interesting relationship because their connection can go both directions: Cocaine abuse can lead to an anxiety disorder, but conversely, anxiety can lead to self-medicating through cocaine.

These two problems, known as dual diagnosis disorders, are often so interwoven that by the time an individual reaches a treatment program, it’s hard to even tell which came first.

Scenario 1: Using Cocaine to Self-Medicate for Anxiety

Someone dealing with anxiety might turn to drugs as a way of self-medicating. In this scenario, the cocaine did not cause the anxiety disorder, but it may heighten the symptoms and will eventually make it worse.

Once this pattern begins, the brain forgets how to cope without the use of cocaine. This leads to a cycle of addiction, as the individual begins to turn to cocaine when any tiny amount of stress shows up in their life. This process deepens both the addiction and the symptoms of anxiety disorder.

Scenario 2: Anxiety Disorder Developing from Cocaine Abuse

In this second scenario, the anxiety disorder develops because of the cocaine addiction. There are several reasons why cocaine-induced anxiety can occur:

  1. Cocaine is a stimulant. Stimulants speed up the neurotransmitters in the brain, which can cause feelings of anxiety.
  2. Anxiety can also occur during cocaine withdrawal. When coming down from stimulants, the brain’s neurotransmitters can drop dramatically. This leads to feelings of depression and anxiety as the brain is trying to normalize.
  3. Some side effects of cocaine use can evolve into anxiety. For example, insomnia is a common side effect of cocaine addiction, and not getting enough sleep can lead to even worse feelings of stress, and anxiousness.
  4. Physical stress on the body can lead to mental stress and eventually, anxiety.

The Cycle of Stress, Anxiety, and Addiction

To make matters worse, this process of a deepening addiction puts people in situations that cause even more stress and adds to their anxiety. These include:

  • Buying drugs on the street
  • Having trouble keeping a job
  • Doing things that their sober self would not do
  • Difficulties with relationships

Does Cocaine Cause Anxiety?

Cocaine has a reputation as a party drug. People in the entertainment industry have spoken publicly about the rampant use of the drug behind the scenes in the 1980s—even going so far as to allege that movie budgets included cocaine expenses. Dave Chappelle and Charlie Murphy turned musician Rick James famous (or infamous) behavior under the influence of the drug into a punchline in one of the most quoted sketch comedy bits of all time.

However, the good times don’t last, and users often find themselves suffering from numerous mental and physical health issues including anxiety.

For some who are self-medicating for anxiety issues with cocaine, this feels like a return to the status quo, but it is possible for cocaine to cause anxiety in individuals who previously had no history of the condition.

Why Does Cocaine Cause Panic Attacks?

Cocaine changes the way your brain works. The communication systems work faster, and these disruptions can cause feelings of anxiousness. Likewise, when you come down from the high, your mind will struggle to find equilibrium which may leave you feeling sluggish, anxious and depressed. This is where cocaine-induced anxiety disorders come into the mix.

Those suffering from cocaine-induced anxiety disorder might experience:

  • Panic attacks consisting of increased heart rate, difficulty breathing, shaking, sweating and other
  • Unshakable thoughts or emotions that cause discomfort
  • Compulsive behavior—typically repeating the same unnecessary tasks in a loop

Treating Cocaine Addiction And Anxiety Disorder Holistically

Since either one can cause the other, both issues need to be treated simultaneously in a dual diagnosis treatment facility. We specialize in treating those with co-occurring conditions such as anxiety and cocaine addiction.

At Footprints Beachside Recovery, we realize every addiction is different. That’s why we work with each client to develop an individualized treatment plan to meet his or her needs.

Do you want to break the cycle of addiction and anxiety? We can help. Contact us today to take the first step in regaining control of your life.

Call Footprints Beachside Recovery at 877-954-3908 today.

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