How chronic cocaine abuse leads to emotional disturbances

How chronic cocaine abuse leads to emotional disturbances

Cocaine is a highly addictive psychostimulant drug extracted from the leaves of coca plant. Listed as a Schedule II drug in the United States, it has a high potential for abuse. As such, the medical usage of cocaine is almost nonexistent and it is a mere recreational drug that surpasses its medical usage. Its only known medicinal usage is as a topical anaesthetic.

Cocaine is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant that speeds up respiration, blood pressure and heart rate. It also raises energy, alertness, wakefulness, focus and attention while suppressing appetite. Due to its ability to increase energy and confidence, it is a popular party drug at social events. According to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) report, an estimated 1.9 million people aged 12 and above are the current users of this illicit drug in the U.S.

In the absence of effective interventions, the chronic users of cocaine witness adverse impacts on their brain functions depending on the frequency of usage, type of cocaine, dosage, etc. The effects of cocaine on a person’s state of mind have been discussed by a number of scientists and experts. In fact, the world-renowned psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud had described the concept of cocaine psychosis over 100 years ago. Some of the common consequences of cocaine abuse include hallucinations, paranoia, etc.

Due to repeated cocaine use, the part of the brain that processes rewards and manages subsequent reinforcing behaviors is damaged. It is coupled with disruption in dopamine transmission. Without cocaine, users find it difficult to feel happy and experience severe withdrawal symptoms, such as depression, fatigue, sleep disorders, cravings, imbalanced appetite and mental impairments.

Disturbing sensations in cocaine users

The long-term cocaine use is associated with a range of emotional disturbances that manifest in a person’s behaviour due to alterations in the functioning of the brain. Such emotional upheavals are commonly experienced by the chronic cocaine users. Some of such changes are below:

  • Aggression: As the brain becomes sensitized and is unable to handle much stress due to cocaine abuse, the previously well-handled situations may now drive a person crazy. When the stress builds up, it needs to be released. Most of the time, it comes out in the form of aggression due to the inability to use higher-order brain functions.
  • Anger: One witnesses anger due to the changes in the neurotransmitter levels and regional functioning, such as the prefrontal cortex. The users of cocaine find themselves angry at the world most of the time.
  • Anxiety: Such a feeling is experienced either because of dopamine deficiency or due to the changes in the way fear-inducing stimuli are processed.
  • Apathy: It arises due to the severe depletion of dopamine and decrease in prefrontal activity. Once addicted to cocaine become apathetic, people start neglecting themselves and are unable to motivate themselves to make positive changes.
  • Depression: One is bound to suffer from depressive symptoms due to the decreased prefrontal activity and deficiency in the neurotransmitter dopamine witnessed because of the chronic abuse of psychostimulants.
  • Paranoia: Such a state of mind can be very disturbing and can last a while. In this state of mind, a person suffers from delusions and loses touch with the reality.
  • Psychosis: People addicted to cocaine witness the problem of psychosis due to the significant alterations in the dopamine level. Those going through such a problem start hallucinating.

Thus, long-term cocaine use can wreak havoc on mental health by leading to various issues. Moreover, such violent impulses rising due to cocaine abuse may even lead to injury, murder, suicidal and homicidal incidents, etc.

Seek help to kick the habit

Kicking the habit of cocaine abuse is challenging. It can take a long time to restore the normal levels of dopamine without the interference of cocaine. The intense withdrawal symptoms generated after stopping the use of cocaine lead to quick relapses among users. Moreover, the withdrawal symptoms can last for long. Fortunately, most of these mental imbalances get corrected if a person abstains from cocaine use for a prolonged period and seeks right treatment.

Cocaine abuse often coexists with serious mental condition, such as depression, PTSD, bipolar disorder, etc. In such a case of dual diagnosis or coexisting disorders, treatment becomes even more challenging. It requires targeting both substance abuse and mental disorder simultaneously to produce effective and lasting results. The sooner the individual receives treatment for a co-occurring condition, the greater are the chances of successful recovery.

If you or someone you know has been struggling with addiction-related problems coupled with psychiatric disorders, the Dual Diagnosis Helpline can assist you in finding one of the best dual diagnosis rehab centers in the U.S. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-981-6047 or chat online to know about the various dual diagnosis facilities in your vicinity.