Drugs like cocaine provide users with a short-lived and highly potent sense of euphoria that can quickly become addictive once the effects wear off. Addiction, however, is not the only negative effect that can come from cocaine use. Long-term use of cocaine can result in a number of physical health problems and in some cases, psychological issues including anxiety and panic attacks. Because the stimulant directly affects brain function, repeated use of cocaine over a long period of time can dramatically change a person’s mood and mental state.
While addiction and mental illness often develop together, cocaine is a drug that has been proven to cause certain psychological problems because of its dangerous side effects. People with psychological symptoms caused by cocaine addiction can improve their health by abstaining from the drug and receiving treatment for both problems.
Psychological Problems from Cocaine Use
Cocaine has such a strong effect on the brain that it does not take long for a person to feel its short-term effects. Within a few minutes of using the drug they will feel euphoric, talkative, and more mentally alert. People often find that the drug helps them perform simply physical and intellectual tasks more quickly, allowing them to be more focused and productive. Allow the immediate effects may seem positive to someone who has just started using cocaine, eventually they will experience some of the negative consequences.
Prolonged use of cocaine can lead to certain psychological problems like mood disturbances, restlessness, paranoia and auditory hallucinations. Repeated binge cocaine use has shown to cause full-blown paranoid psychosis in some individuals. People may begin to lose touch with reality and experience different kinds of hallucinations due to their frequent cocaine use and its changes to the brain.
The Link Between Cocaine and Panic Attacks
Some psychological problems associated with cocaine use can be especially severe and continue even after they have quit the drug. Recent studies have also shown that cocaine causes lasting chemical changes in the brain that can trigger panic attacks and episodes resembling seizures long after the drug use has stopped. People who were severely addicted to cocaine in the past can sometimes struggle with episodes of overwhelming panic due to the damage the drug has caused to their brain.
Some researchers have concluded that prolonged cocaine use can alter a person’s brain chemistry in such a way that they become overly sensitive and panic attacks can be triggered by even the slightest stimulation. Some of the subjects in the study experienced bouts of intense fear accompanied by abnormally rapid heartbeats, lightheadedness and shortness of breath.
Their attacks could even cause distorted vision or mild hallucinations. The episodes were discovered to be similar to seizures because medication normally used to treat epilepsy proved effective in minimizing the symptoms. According to research, nearly two-thirds of all cocaine users experience these kinds of episodes involving panic and anxiety, especially among those who had used the drug for long periods anywhere from one to six years.
Cocaine is known to have a number of physical effects and it can cause severe addiction among most users but the mental health problems associated with the drug can be painful and long-lasting. People who experience symptoms of mood disturbance, paranoia, or episodes of panic attacks should seek treatment immediately for dual diagnosis.
Someone who is addicted to cocaine and is experiencing serious psychological symptoms is dealing with a co-occurring disorder that will require both issues to be treated at one time. With the right kind of professional addiction treatment and mental health care it is possible for a cocaine user to reach a full recovery.