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Cocaine and Depression

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One day, a coworker informed you that the secret to maintaining focus and energy during the workday was cocaine. At first, it seemed to help give you energy and motivation. Lately, you have been feeling the opposite. Instead of wanting to meet deadlines, you’ve been feeling depressed. 

In California, 659,000 people had a cocaine use disorder in 2021. While not everyone experiences depression, it can be associated with this substance. At Pacific Sands, we know it might be challenging to understand and manage both disorders, especially when you have other things on your plate. Today, we are going to talk about cocaine and depression and how they interact with each other. 

Cocaine and Depression: How Are They Connected?

Cocaine has a substantial impact on the brain. Most notably, it impacts how the brain releases the chemical dopamine. This is a naturally occurring chemical in the brain created during certain activities. When it is released, the person will feel pleasure, which essentially acts as a “reward” for the brain to continue doing these actions. Some activities that naturally release dopamine may include eating, exercising, and listening to music. Cocaine results in higher levels of this chemical than other actions do, resulting in intense enjoyment and a need to continue maintaining that feeling

The pleasurable side effects of cocaine are short-lived, and they may include euphoria, mental alertness, energy, and a diminished need for food or sleep. So, as they wear off, you will stop experiencing that sense of pleasure. Energy and enjoyment levels will plummet. As levels drop, there is a higher risk of the development of depression symptoms. They may begin to feel as if nothing is satisfactory anymore unless cocaine is a part of their life. This only encourages the cycle to continue because the brain wants that comfort back. 

It may also result in people having symptoms of psychosis or violence, which may lead to their loved ones deciding to distance themselves. Over time, this may lead to feelings of loneliness, which could develop into depression. 

However, depression can also result in cocaine or another substance use disorder. When someone has depression, they may experience instability when it comes to their mood or difficulty with maintaining energy. In turn, they may try to self-medicate their depression symptoms with cocaine since it can result in increased happiness and energy. Over time, this may lead to a cocaine use disorder on top of their depression. 

Can Cocaine Cause or Worsen Depression?

As mentioned above, dopamine causes pleasure and happiness, and cocaine results in more of this chemical than everyday activities. 

The brain likes to feel pleasure, and depression and other mental health disorders do not provide it with this sensation. Since other activities cannot provide the brain with the same levels of pleasure as cocaine, the body begins to crave the substance. With time, the brain will develop a tolerance to cocaine and require more of the substance to feel the same pleasurable effects. 

In the short-term, the pleasure someone gets from cocaine may seem to improve their symptoms of a pre-existing depression. This initial improvement, though often short-term, will encourage a person to continue to take the substance. Cocaine makes them feel better, and it is natural to want those positive emotions. The concern becomes cocaine does not solve pre-existing depression. After time has passed, symptoms of both disorders may worsen. 

cocaine and depression how are they connected

How to Spot the Signs of Cocaine-Related Depression

Long-term exposure to the highs of excess dopamine and the crashes of cocaine may result in the development of an underlying depression. When nothing else eases these symptoms and allows the brain to feel good again, it will turn to wanting more cocaine. When the substance is not being taken, the symptoms of depression may seem to worsen, which may impact you both mentally and physically. 

The Effects of Cocaine and Depression on Your Mind

Cocaine and depression can have a significant impact on your mind. Below is a chart with some of the most common symptoms these disorders can have:

Cocaine Depression Overlap
Energy Persistent sadness Feelings of restlessness
Mentally alert Feelings of emptiness Loss of interest in activities
Extreme happiness or euphoria Lack of energy Increased irritability
Talkative Feelings of hopelessness Memory concerns
Buildup of dopamine Suicidal thoughts Increased impulsivity

The Effects of Cocaine and Depression on Your Body

Your body can also be impacted by cocaine and depression. Some of the most common physical symptoms someone might experience include:

  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Changes in appetite
  • Changes in weight
  • Body aches
  • Headaches
  • Cramps
  • Digestive concerns

Cocaine Withdrawal and Depression

People who are experiencing withdrawal will often experience a range of symptoms. These may include exhaustion, paranoia, discomfort, and cravings. One of the most common symptoms of cocaine withdrawal is depression. When you have stopped taking the substance, dopamine drops as you enter withdrawal, which results in lower moods and enjoyment of things. As described earlier, this results in symptoms of depression. During withdrawal, the brain is trying to return to its normal state, and with time and treatment, it will. If feelings of depression worsen, it may result in complications, such as self-harm or suicidal thoughts. Seeking medical attention helps keep you safe during this time. 

Sometimes, depression and cravings may continue to exist after other symptoms have ceased. This is because even months to years after you have stopped taking cocaine, the brain could still be trying to regulate the natural chemicals it makes instead of relying on cocaine to bring enjoyment. These symptoms will eventually disappear, and you will find healthy ways to receive pleasure. Having a support system you can turn to will help prevent a return to use. 

The Effective Ways to Treat Cocaine Addiction and Depression Together

The only way to truly heal from both disorders is through dual diagnosis treatment. Suppose someone only receives treatment for a cocaine use disorder and not depression. In that case, they might find it challenging to find recovery. This is because the mind will want the pleasure it felt from cocaine to improve the symptoms of depression. On the flip side, if someone only receives treatment for depression, their body will still be craving cocaine. 

Not receiving treatment for both disorders will result in complications, such as a return to use. When someone returns to cocaine after not taking it for some time, they have an increased risk of experiencing a cocaine overdose. This is because people often take the dose they consumed before stopping. An overdose is a medical crisis that requires contacting 911 to save their life.

During treatment, you will learn skills and techniques that will be applied to both disorders. These will act as tools for you to rely on throughout your recovery journey, whether it be for lingering cocaine cravings or depression symptoms. 

how to spot the signs of cocaine related depression

Get Treatment for Depression and Cocaine Use Today in California

Choosing the right cocaine detox program in California may feel overwhelming. You may have bounced around to several only to conclude they don’t work. Perhaps you have missed days of your profession and want a place where you feel like a priority. You want a place that will solve the concerns you have.

Pacific Sands has a maximum of 6 clients with private rooms. This gives us the resources to focus on your needs and goals. Your unique recovery journey will be the focal point at our facility, ensuring you have the assets necessary to achieve long-term success. 

Our primary therapist is on-site at Pacific Sands 50 hours a week. This ensures you receive the adequate care you deserve to heal from both cocaine use and depression disorders. If you have any questions, please call us at 949-426-7962 today.

Pacific Sands – The first step towards a new life. 

FAQs About Cocaine and Depression

Can cocaine interfere with antidepressants?

Yes. Taking cocaine alongside antidepressants can impact their effectiveness in balancing the neurotransmitter levels in your brain. 


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