Cocaine is a powerful stimulant that causes euphoria and increased energy and self-esteem in those who use it.
However, when cocaine is abused heavily over time or even within a single instance of use, it can have severe side effects for a person’s physical and mental health.
One of the more serious mental health side effects of cocaine abuse is the development of cocaine-induced psychosis.
People who are in a state of psychosis have lost touch with the reality around them and are at increased danger of a cocaine overdose.
The Top 4 Signs And Symptoms Of Cocaine-Induced Psychosis
A state of cocaine-induced psychosis is a medical emergency, and help should be sought immediately for anyone experiencing psychosis.
Fortunately, the signs of psychosis are relatively easy to recognize and can be classified into four specific symptoms.
A person who is experiencing cocaine-induced psychosis will likely become paranoid and suspicious of those around them, even their friends and loved ones.
Someone who is experiencing cocaine-induced paranoia and suspiciousness can be dangerous to themselves and others, especially if they believe that people around them want to harm them.
2. Auditory And Visual Hallucinations
Someone in a state of psychosis may see things that are not happening or hear things that are not there. People can also smell or feel things that are not there.
Auditory hallucinations are the most common type of hallucination associated with cocaine-induced psychosis.
3. Delusions (False Beliefs)
Psychosis can cause a person to have powerful and possibly dangerous paranoid delusions, during which they believe things to be real that are completely false in reality.
Examples of delusions can be a person believing they are invincible or have special powers or believing that God is speaking to them and telling them to do certain things.
4. Abnormal Or Inappropriate Behavior
Psychosis can cause a person to behave in ways that they never would normally, and sometimes even cause them to act out in aggression and even with violence.
People may also act strangely under psychosis because of delirium — a dangerous condition where a person experiences severe mental and physical confusion.
What Causes Cocaine Psychosis?
One of the reasons why cocaine psychosis may occur is because a person has too much dopamine being released in their brain.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that plays a large part in a person’s reward center and feelings of pleasure, but high dopamine levels can have negative side effects.
Psychosis from cocaine may also occur because of low levels of a brain chemical called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).
BDNF levels are also typically low in people who have schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders.
When Does Cocaine Psychosis Occur?
Cocaine-induced psychosis can either occur during cocaine intoxication, which is essentially a cocaine overdose, or during withdrawal from heavy cocaine use.
During Cocaine Intoxication
Cocaine intoxication generally occurs when a person has taken too high of a dose of cocaine or too pure of a dose, or they have mixed cocaine use with other drug use.
Cocaine intoxication can be fatal, and psychosis is a major indicator that a person is experiencing cocaine intoxication.
Additional symptoms of cocaine intoxication may include:
- fast heart rate
- high blood pressure
- chest pain
- high body temperature
- fast breathing
- talking excessively or rambling
During Cocaine Withdrawal
Cocaine is a very addictive substance, and withdrawal symptoms from it can be severe and uncomfortable.
Depending on how long and how heavily a person has been abusing cocaine, withdrawal may be severe enough to trigger psychosis in some people.
Additional symptoms of cocaine withdrawal may include:
- strong cravings
- anxiety and depression
- problems focusing or concentrating
- sleep disturbances
- increased appetite
- suicidal thoughts
How Long Will Psychosis Caused By Cocaine Use Last?
How long a period of psychosis lasts will vary from person to person, but in most cases cocaine-induced psychosis lasts for a few hours to a few days.
The effects of cocaine psychosis can linger, and in some rare cases, people can experience symptoms of psychosis for over a month after their last dose was taken.
How long a person’s psychosis lasts will depend on various factors, such as the amount of cocaine that they took and their personal history of substance abuse or mental illness.
Who Is At Risk For Developing Cocaine-Induced Psychosis?
A person is at an increased risk for cocaine psychosis when taking very large amounts of cocaine, and especially when using cocaine by injection or by smoking crack cocaine.
The chances of a person developing psychosis during cocaine abuse are also amplified if they have any co-occurring mental health disorders, such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.
Other risk factors for developing psychosis include using cocaine along with other substances, being underweight, and starting cocaine use before the age of 20.
Is Cocaine-Induced Psychosis Treatable?
The state of psychosis is a life-threatening situation that could signify an overdose is happening, and medical care should be sought immediately for someone who is experiencing it.
Cocaine-related psychosis can then be treated with a variety of medications that include antipsychotics, sedatives, and benzodiazepines.
Anyone who experiences psychotic symptoms or psychotic episodes as a result of cocaine use should seek follow-up care as soon as they feel up to doing so.
Follow-Up Treatment Programs For Cocaine Addiction
Anyone who is having problems with cocaine dependence or addiction, regardless of whether or not they have experienced psychosis, may find benefit from a professional recovery program.
Treatment services for cocaine abuse and drug addiction may include:
- short-term or long-term inpatient treatment
- outpatient treatment
- medical or observational detox
- wellness and healthcare education
- behavioral therapy
- individual and group counseling
- transitional and sober living homes
Find A Drug And Alcohol Rehab Facility
If you or one of your loved ones is seeking professional cocaine addiction treatment in your area, consider giving our helpline a call for assistance.
Many substance use rehab centers are ready to accept new clients immediately, and our treatment specialists can answer any questions that you have in the meantime.Article Sources
- National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
- National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus
- National Library of Medicine: PubMed.gov