acquiesce - June 26th, 2022

Can Cocaine Cause Psychosis?

When discussing the negative effects of using cocaine, symptoms such as nosebleeds, heart attacks and stroke are often mentioned, however, few discuss the possibility of developing psychosis as a result of long term cocaine use.

In this guide, we’re going to be explaining whether cocaine can cause psychosis and how you can seek recovery treatment if you have an addiction to cocaine.

First, let’s take a look at what psychosis actually is.

What is Psychosis?

Psychosis, also known as a ‘psychotic experience’ or ‘psychotic episode’ is when an individual perceives reality differently from the people around them. Common psychotic experiences can include hallucinations, delusions and disorganised thoughts and speech.

What Causes Psychosis?

Psychosis can be caused by a number of different factors and can affect people in different ways. 

The following conditions have been known to trigger psychotic episodes in some individuals:

  • Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a mental health condition that involves psychosis as a symptom and individuals with schizophrenia often experience hallucinations and delusions.

  • Bipolar disorder

An individual with bipolar disorder can have episodes of low mood (depression) and highs (mania).

  • Severe anxiety or stress

Anxiety or stress induced psychosis is often triggered by an anxiety or panic attack and typically only lasts as long as the attack itself. 

  • Severe depression

Some individuals with severe clinical depression can experience hallucinations and delusional thinking, often about suicide. 

  • Lack of sleep

Sleep deprivation can trigger psychotic episodes which worsen the longer the individual remains awake.

  • Drug use

Drug induced psychosis is often caused by taking too much of a drug or mixing substances.

Can Cocaine Cause Drug-Induced Psychosis?

Yes, cocaine use can trigger psychotic episodes as well as worsening symptoms of existing mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder. 

Although some people find that using cocaine makes them feel happier and more sociable, other individuals experience feelings of paranoia and delusional thinking. 

This is made worse when they take higher amounts of cocaine or mix it with other substances such as alcohol or different drugs.

Additionally, the longer and more frequently an individual takes cocaine, the more likely they are to develop cocaine-induced psychosis, which occurs during both intoxication and withdrawal, producing elaborate hallucinations and delusions.

Experiencing these psychotic episodes during withdrawal alongside other unpleasant symptoms can make it especially difficult for an individual to stop using cocaine and they may continue to take higher amounts more frequently in order to prevent these experiences.

Unfortunately, in doing so, many people put themselves at risk of overdosing, which can lead to a heart attack, stroke or death.

Symptoms of Cocaine Induced Psychosis

Cocaine induced psychosis can include the following symptoms:

  • Cocaine Paranoia 

Cocaine paranoia is the most common symptom of cocaine induced psychosis. In fact, one study found that over two-thirds of people that have used cocaine reported paranoia following use.

Prior to the onset of cocaine paranoia, individuals may develop suspiciousness, which is a precursor of paranoia. They may then act aggressively or violently towards other people, including those close to them such as friends and family.

  • Cocaine Hallucinations

When an individual uses high amounts of cocaine over an extended period of time, they can experience hallucinations. 

These hallucinations can then cause them to become more paranoid and delusional and could potentially stop them from sensibly responding to real dangers.

  • Cocaine Delusions

Another common symptom of cocaine psychosis is delusional thinking, which triggers false beliefs, even when the individual is provided with evidence that would usually dispel these beliefs.

Common delusions experienced by those with cocaine induced psychosis include:

  • Identity delusions – the individual may not know who they are or believe they are someone else.
  • Possession delusions – This involves someone thinking they own things that they do not, such as houses and cars.
  • Imposed delusions – the individual may become suspicious of the ‘true identity’ of friends, family or strangers.
  • Grandiose delusions – this can cause a person to have over-inflated self-esteem.

Can Other Drugs Cause Psychosis?

Yes, the drugs that are most commonly reported in cases of drug-induced psychosis include Methamphetamine (Meth), psychedelic drugs like LSD and club drugs such as ecstasy and MDMA.

Cannabis can also lead to psychosis and taking cannabis regularly for a long period of time has been shown to increase the likelihood of developing schizophrenia later down the line, which is much more serious than standalone psychotic episodes.

Drug Induced Psychosis Prevention and Recovery

If you currently experience psychosis as a result of drug taking and find that you cannot stop, or if you are worried that you are at risk of developing psychosis due to a cocaine addiction, you can get treatment to help you recover.

At Acquiesce, we provide a discreet, highly supported and safe environment within the community for you to recover in. 

Without being hidden from the real world, our urban recovery model allows individuals to gain all the tools and experience necessary whilst maintaining a carefully monitored level of autonomy and responsibility over their own recovery.

This makes the transitional period from treatment a much smoother process, resulting in a more sustainable recovery journey.

Our core programme addresses the psychological, physical, spiritual and social effects of addiction. It is delivered by our highly trained and experienced team and incorporates the latest evidence based interventions, alternative therapies and activities. 

Our programmes are designed to accommodate each individual’s existing commitments and responsibilities including family and work arrangements. 

If you’re ready to recover, please do not hesitate to get in touch with a member of our friendly team at Acquiesce for a free, confidential and no judgement consultation. 

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