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What Is Cocaine Psychosis

Have you ever seen something out of the corner of your eye that made you double-take? The initial feeling of fear as you see one thing but quickly realize it is something else as you look again. You laugh and feel silly for thinking you saw something that wasn’t there.

But what if when you look again the object doesn’t change, and your mind can’t distinguish if it’s real or not? Panic and paranoia would set in, making you feel on edge and even crazy. This exact situation can happen from cocaine use, and many who use the substance will have these experiences.

In 2022, cocaine was the cause of over 33% of all drug-caused deaths here in the Sunshine State. This could be from overdose, suicide, or any combination of behavioral responses. At Clean Recovery Centers, we understand how cocaine works in the brain and can cause behaviors that wouldn’t normally occur. Our three-phase approach addresses these changes and works with each individual to find the path to recovery that works for them.

So, what is cocaine psychosis, why does it occur, and is it permanent?

what is cocaine psychosis clean recovery centers

different types of cocaine induced psychosisWhat Is Cocaine Psychosis?

First, what is psychosis? Psychosis is a condition characterized by a handful of symptoms where the mind seems to lose touch with reality. They are sometimes known as psychotic episodes or experiences. Although there is no definitive cause, it can occur for a variety of reasons – one of which is cocaine use.

Cocaine is a stimulant made from the coca plant. When taken, it floods the brain with dopamine causing a euphoric sensation. However, various other side effects can ensue after the initial rush, including psychosis. There are different types of psychotic episodes related to cocaine use, and not everyone will experience them in the same timeframe.

Different Types of Cocaine-Induced Psychosis

In a recent study, there were key findings about the different cocaine-induced psychotic episodes. 53% of participants experienced some form of psychosis caused by cocaine. Males were more likely to experience psychosis than females, and those who had been using cocaine heavily during the past year also had higher chances of psychosis. Of the 53%, 90% experienced paranoid delusions, while 96% experienced hallucinations. 83% experienced auditory hallucinations while 38% experienced visual hallucinations.

Tactile hallucinations are normally associated with amphetamine use, but can occur in cocaine use as well. In this case, 21% experienced these, which are characterized by false feelings of touch or movement, typically taking place under the skin or within the body.

Cocaine Psychosis: Recognizing the Signs & Symptoms

There are different types of psychosis that can occur from cocaine use. Depending on what you are experiencing, the signs and symptoms can vary. The most common conditions associated with cocaine use are paranoia, delusions, and hallucinations. Let’s explore these further.

Cocaine Paranoia

Paranoia consists of extreme distrust of others, no matter if they are friends and family or not. It is a sense of “everyone is out to get me,” and is commonly seen with cocaine use. Signs that paranoia is beginning include suspicious feelings about people or places as well as thinking those around them are plotting against them. The longer cocaine is used, the higher the likelihood is of experiencing paranoia. Paranoia caused by cocaine use can last for a few hours to a few days depending on how long the person was taking it. For some, paranoia can occur between uses as the person worries about getting their next dose of cocaine.

Paranoia can also serve as a precursor for more serious psychiatric symptoms. If you notice someone acting paranoid while taking cocaine, it is best to move them somewhere quiet and safe. This can be easier said than done as the person is experiencing distrust that is out of character. If you are unable to get the person to a safe space, seek medical help.

Cocaine Delusions

Delusions or delusional thinking is a situation where the person has a false belief despite seeing proof that it is incorrect. An example is denying that you know a person despite being shown pictures of the two of you together. Cocaine induces delusions due to the imbalance of dopamine within the brain. This inhibits the brain’s ability to perceive situations properly and clouds judgment.

Cocaine Hallucinations

Similar to delusions, hallucinations are common with cocaine use and consist of seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not a part of reality. Hearing voices, seeing objects that are not there, feeling insects crawling under the skin, and even smelling or tasting things that are not there are common examples of hallucinations. Like delusions, hallucinations stem from the brain being overwhelmed by dopamine. As mentioned above, auditory hallucinations were the most common with cocaine use. Experiencing paranoia, delusions, and hallucinations all at once are tell-tale signs of cocaine-induced psychosis, and it can lead to serious consequences.

Violence Associated With Cocaine

In a phone survey about cocaine use, over 400 participants shared their experiences with cocaine. 42% reported feeling increased anger, 32% reported feeling violent, and 84% reported feeling paranoid and suspicious. This is linked to the release of norepinephrine that cocaine causes. Norepinephrine is the neurotransmitter in the brain responsible for the fight-or-flight response. Cocaine inhibits this response, essentially throwing the brain into fight mode. The slightest movement or change can seem threatening, triggering a violent response. This is seen more in those who use crack than in cocaine, but both substances produce this response.

Violent tendencies can also be brought to light during cocaine cravings. Agitation, paranoia, and anxiety are increased during cravings, and the person may feel they have to do whatever is necessary to get cocaine. Chronic cocaine use can also impair the region of the brain responsible for judgment and rational decisions. The person may not have been violent before, but may become that way if they cannot fulfill their cocaine craving.

Are There Risk Factors for Developing Cocaine Psychosis?

Those who use cocaine frequently and for a long period of time are likely to develop psychosis at some point during use. However, there are some factors that can affect how often and how long you will experience it. Having other mental health conditions such as bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia can increase the risk of having psychotic episodes while taking cocaine. Genetics and the way you respond to medications also play a role in experiencing cocaine-induced psychosis. If you are more susceptible to stress, you may also experience cocaine psychosis more so than someone who is not.

How Long Does Cocaine Psychosis Last?

Cocaine psychosis can last a few hours to a few days after the last use. In those going through cocaine withdrawal, psychosis may last as long as a week. Cocaine changes the way the brain functions and long-term use can damage areas of the brain. While psychosis does not typically become permanent from cocaine use, gray matter is reduced throughout the brain from prolonged cocaine use. This can cause premature aging of the brain and lead to memory problems, behavioral and emotional difficulties, and reduced attention span.

Cocaine Psychosis and Addiction Treatment in Sarasota County, FL

Psychosis can be scary and even result in unpleasant or violent outcomes, but it can feel impossible to leave cocaine behind. The reality is, cocaine can end up destroying your life even though you are unaware of the reality around you. There is hope, and seeking cocaine addiction treatment can get you started on the path of recovery today. Through extensive therapies and skill-building courses, you will be ready to face your cocaine use disorder and emerge a new person with passions and goals.

Experiencing cocaine psychosis may have put you in a tough situation – job or relationship loss or even an arrest record. Clean Recovery Centers has seen these stories firsthand and worked with each individual who walks through our door to get their life back on track. We offer wellness programming including chiropractic care, nutritional counseling, and brain mapping so you understand yourself and build healthy habits. Call us today at (888) 330-2532 to learn more about how we can help.

Get clean. Live clean. Stay clean.

FAQs About Cocaine Psychosis

How is cocaine psychosis different from normal psychosis?

Cocaine psychosis is a reaction to the substance, often resulting from the flood of dopamine cocaine causes. Psychosis in those not taking cocaine can be the result of stress, a mental health condition, or a neurological disorder. Cocaine psychosis will go away after a few hours or days while psychosis caused by another factor can continue on until treatment is sought.

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