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Effect of Cocaine on Anxiety

March 9, 2021
Reviewed by: Lisa Misquith
effect of cocaine on anxiety

You must have experienced anxiety at some point in your life. It could be either during your life at school where you got worried about your exams, or else it could be about starting your career with a decent job. Life is replete with stress and anxiety at every stage at times less and sometimes more. 

You may, at times, imagine getting out of this stress by thinking of some possible means. This could instigate you to try alcohol or a drug just to get a feeling of how it feels and if it brings you satiation or peace of mind. This is where you could land in trouble! 

As per the World Drug Report, 2018 the prevalence of drug abuse among the younger population is much higher than among the older population. The following are the risk factors associated with substance abuse:

  • A traumatic childhood
  • Mental health problems
  • Poverty
  • Peer substance use and easy availability of drugs
  • Negative school atmosphere
  • Attention seeking behaviour

Out of the risk factors mentioned above, we will focus on the relationship between mental health problems and the use of cocaine. As per the National Mental Health Survey of India 2015–2016, the percent of anxiety disorders is 3.6 percent and depressive disorders are 0.8 percent.

Moreover, according to the article, every one in seven Indians is affected by mental 

disorders of varying intensity in 2017. 

Also, even in the United States (US), approximately 40 million adults are affected by anxiety in a year. In an article published in the journal World Psychiatry, it has been cited that cocaine is used to treat mental health problems. 

According to the SAMHSA Report (2018) in America, the 2018 estimate for cocaine use among adolescents was similar to the estimates from 2013 to 2017, but it was lower than the estimates from 2002 to 2012. These statistics are enough to shed light on the interconnection between mental health disorder and cocaine use.

Relationship Between Anxiety and Cocaine

It is indeed difficult to decipher whether anxiety causes substance abuse (cocaine) or the intake of cocaine leads to anxiety in an individual.

Anxiety, as we know, is a mental health problem and unfortunately, people try to resolve this problem through their ways and means. Anxiety disorder is a mental problem that includes symptoms of intense worry or panic caused due to regular activities or events. 

One such method of dealing with this disorder involves the use of drugs. It has been found in clinical studies that individuals take recourse to cocaine to get rid of this feeling of anxiety and depression and thus feel elated. Cocaine is one of the popular drugs used by the young population as a form of self-medication which in turn worsens the condition. 

Cocaine is a strong central nervous system stimulant used non-medically to produce euphoria or wakefulness. However, its repeated use can produce dependence. It is sold as a white powder which is often mixed with local anesthetics. 

The method of taking this drug is to sniff its powder that produces strong effects on the human body which lasts for at least 30 minutes. Also, cocaine can be ingested orally often with alcohol which makes it highly dangerous.

Effect of Cocaine on Anxiety

It is essential to understand who is at risk of using cocaine to overcome the feeling of anxiety. As discussed, if you are suffering from low self-esteem and are feeling low and despondent, you might try to resolve the problem on your own. The following are the types of anxiety disorders that might encourage you to consume cocaine.

  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • General anxiety disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder

Cocaine is a stimulant that immediately increases brain activity, leading to happy and elated feelings in your mind. This relaxes your body and you feel like continuing taking cocaine. 

With time, you become addicted to cocaine and cocaine abuse can lead to bizarre, unpredictable, and violent behaviour. So even if you try to withdraw from this drug dependency, you experience a feeling of anxiety and nervousness.

If you identify that you are suffering from any of the above-mentioned disorders, then with the consent of your family and friends, do seek medical help. This will help you come out of this disorder and you would not come across the notion of trying cocaine.

Risk of Using Cocaine to Relieve Anxiety

You must first identify the fact of whether there is any mental health problem that is causing you to move towards substance abuse or is it just for recreational purposes. So, it becomes vital to address your mental health issues along with your drug-related habits.

There are several hazards associated with cocaine addiction to relieve anxiety:

1. Stimulant

You must be surprised to know that cocaine is a stimulant and a significant feature of every stimulant is that it increases anxiety. When you intake cocaine, it increases brain activity. As a result, you might experience racing thoughts in your mind. Anxiety is one of the most commonly observed side effects of cocaine use. Also, the symptoms of cocaine intake might worsen if you suffer from some anxiety disorder.

2. Withdrawal

While inhaling the white powder (cocaine), you might feel high and euphoric. But as soon as the intake stops, the neurotransmitters of the brain decrease their speed and activity, bringing in feelings of low self-esteem and depression. So, as the brain tries to normalise its condition, you might experience feelings of lowness and anxiety.

3. Side-Effects of Cocaine Use

As you become addicted to cocaine, you seem to experience some side effects of substance abuse such as palpitation, feeling low, anxiety, and insomnia. These are bound to have long-term detrimental effects on your health.

4. Physical Stress

As your brain gets affected by the ill-effects of cocaine addiction, so does your body. Long-term addiction to cocaine is bound to lead to mental stress and anxiety, consequently leading to physical stress.

5. Changes in Lifestyle

Certainly, cocaine addiction is bound to bring about several changes in your lifestyle. Your family and friends might also experience certain changes in your way of functioning day-to-day tasks. Some changes which you might experience are pain, nausea, strained personal relationships, increased heart rate, agitation and a lot more. Hence, all these factors together are bound to lead to anxiety.

These are just a few instances that highlight how increased cocaine use can lead to anxiety. As cocaine is highly addictive, you might develop a dependency on it only after a few doses. Not only this, but cocaine addiction is also increasing all over the world leading to a significant number of deaths.

Better or Alternative Ways of Treating Anxiety Without the use of Cocaine

You must be curious to know whether apart from prescribed medication, are there any other alternative ways of treating anxiety disorders ? You can certainly consult a medical professional and take the prescribed medications, but there could be thoughts on trying some alternative approaches to treating anxiety disorder without the intake of cocaine.

1. Exercise

Physical activity is one of the best ways of reducing stress. It not only removes toxins from your body but also relieves your mind. Hence, it helps to get rid of feelings of anxiety as well.

2. Meditation

Yoga certainly helps to de-stress the body. Meditation helps enhance concentration and relieves the activities of the brain. You will experience calmness and peace which will result in an anxiety-free environment.

3. Aromatherapy

This therapy includes the inhalation of various essential oils such as lavender, cedarwood, lemon, chamomile, and others. Aromatherapy helps to relieve stress and pain either in the body or mind. This therapy has a soothing ability that lessens anxiety.

4. Spending Time With Pets

You can try adopting a dog or a cat to play and relieve your stress. This will bring about amazing changes in your behaviour, say, it will reduce your mood swings. So, spending time with your pets is going to make you a different human being full of vigour and peace.

5. Organising Your Schedule Wisely

Scheduling your day with proper activity in mind can help you distract yourself from feeling tremendous nervousness or anxiety.

6. Engage in Hobbies

This alternative method works wonders! You can take out some time to engage in what you are passionate about such as singing, dancing, playing the guitar, painting, cooking, and other miscellaneous activities This will make you experience contentment and you will begin to love yourself. 

In addition to these alternative approaches, you need to ensure that you are getting the right amount of sleep of at least eight to nine hours. A good night’s sleep improves immunity and helps decrease the symptoms of anxiety. 

Also, watch your diet carefully as cocaine addiction generally leads to a lack of proper nutrition. Therefore, you should increase the intake of  food items of high nutritional value that heal the body from inside. You need to consume healthy varieties in your daily diet such as foods rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, magnesium, potassium and so forth.

Please make sure to revisit your doctor if you don’t feel like there has been a  change in working on your  addiction. 

Medication becomes necessary when the situation is severe. You might have to resort to psychotherapy with a qualified  Clinical Psychologist who, after a detailed discussion will assist you in dealing with the situations to mitigate anxiety.

One of the significant reasons for you to quit cocaine addiction is because this condition causes dependence for temporary relief. With time, your brain is not able to function normally and hence, cannot control your emotions and anxiety. Eventually, you become inefficient in handling stressful situations in your life. This is one of the major reasons why you should quit cocaine addiction.

However, before you do so, you must first identify whether cocaine intake came first or anxiety disorder. At times, anxiety disorder is present with substance abuse disorder known as dual diagnosis. Since one condition can cause another, it is vital to treat both of them simultaneously. 

In case, you only get treated for one condition, say anxiety disorder and not for cocaine addiction, then there are chances that after a while, your condition might relapse. So, to avoid it, you must get treated for both disorders. 

One significant mantra is to try and keep stress and tension out of your life. This will ensure that you do not deviate from your quality of living and will not attempt to look for recreational ways such as taking drugs which will only worsen your life.