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Cocaine and Anxiety: Can cocaine cause an anxiety disorder?

By June 24, 2021September 21st, 2021No Comments
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Cocaine and Anxiety: Can cocaine cause an anxiety disorder?

Cocaine is an illicit stimulant that people may use recreationally or to cope with mental health issues, such as depression or low self-esteem. Some people who struggle with social anxiety, for example, may use cocaine to cope with fears and rumination they experience in social situations, finding that cocaine makes them feel temporarily more energized and confident. Unfortunately, cocaine use is most likely going to make a person’s anxiety worse in the long run, and may even bring about clinical anxiety for someone who has not previously struggled with anxiety in the past. Aside from cocaine’s highly addictive nature, it can onset an array of physical and mental damage to a person who abuses it. Luckily, a quality drug addiction rehab program can offer hope for someone struggling with cocaine addiction and anxiety simultaneously.

Does Cocaine make anxiety worse?

Yes. First of all, because cocaine is a stimulant, it speeds up the activity of neurotransmitters in the brain causing thoughts to race, which can exacerbate anxiety for many people. Thoughts can feel out of control and/or paranoid. When the effects of cocaine wear off, it is common to feel anxiety, irritation, insomnia, negative thoughts, and panic as substance abuse withdrawal symptoms (other withdrawal symptoms of cocaine withdrawal include cravings, anger, depression, and lethargy, among other things). Cocaine can also alter appetite and sleep patterns, exasperating mental health symptoms.

Can cocaine cause an anxiety disorder to someone who has not struggled with anxiety previously?

Yes, absolutely. During withdrawal from cocaine, anxiety is one of the most common symptoms. If someone has developed an addiction to cocaine, they are likely to feel anxious coming down from cocaine as their brain attempts to recalibrate. Once a dependency is formed, they may feel constantly anxious until they use cocaine again (and in some cases, may feel anxious while using as well). Furthermore, the life stressors that can be caused by addiction, such as loss of job or housing, strained relationships, seeking cocaine in risky ways, and/or maintaining secrecy of one’s addiction can all exacerbate anxiety, worry, and panic.

Is treatment for both cocaine addiction and anxiety possible?

Not only is it possible, it is essential to treat both the substance abuse and the anxiety holistically in order to achieve long-lasting recovery. Nearly all cases of substance addiction exist in conjunction with an underlying mental health issue, such as anxiety, depression, or trauma. Substance abuse is a way of attempting to manage or escape from an unbearable aspect of a person’s life, which is why at Flatirons Recovery, it is crucial that we attempt to identify the root cause of the addiction and create a plan for addressing it on a deeper level. When both mental health and substance abuse are addressed in unison, this is called dual-diagnosis treatment.

Here are some of the ways our addiction treatment center addresses cocaine abuse and anxiety holistically:

  • Developing skills such as mindfulness to increase tolerance of anxiety, so the desire for drug abuse is lessened.
  • Addressing underlying trauma that may be causing both anxiety and addiction with evidence-based treatment such as EMDR.
  • Nutritional counseling to help clients create and maintain a dietary plan that will support recovery from anxiety and cocaine addiction.
  • Utilizing experiential modalities known to decrease anxiety and stress, such as yoga, hiking, art, and equine therapy.
  • Fostering community in our program and the greater Boulder, Colorado area so that clients can have positive, drug-free social experiences and deeper connections with others, all while being supported by staff and peers.
  • Managing medication to help ease underlying anxiety.
  • Offering an uplifting, calming environment for recovery. Our facilities have abundant natural light, views of the Boulder Flatirons, and clean, soothing, Colorado-style decor. Our sober living facility is surrounded by 80 acres of open space and has roaming horses that can be seen from each bedroom window.
  • Being in close proximity to the Colorado mountains, and outside programming as much as possible. We are so lucky here in Colorado to have over 300 days of sunshine, and we take full advantage of the power of nature to ease anxiety with time spent in the Rocky Mountains, especially those Boulder Flatirons.

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