Substance Use

Cocaine and Depression: Does it Make You Depressed?

female cocaine addict doing lines off mirror in bathroom

TABLE OF CONTENTSTable of Contents

Can Cocaine Abuse Cause Depression?

Cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant drug with roots that stem back to ancient South America and a troubling presence that reaches some of the most notable people in pop culture. But with all the negative publicity that cocaine garnered, why do people continue to use it? 

The answer isn’t as simple as you think.

People who don’t like the high they get from using cocaine may stop the drug only to experience immense depression and sadness. Feelings that draw them right back to using cocaine. Others may experience suicidal thoughts.

Have you tried to stop using cocaine but experienced feelings of depression that prompted you to use it again? Contact Zinnia Healing at (855) 430-9439 for advice on how to quit safely and effectively.

What is Cocaine?

Cocaine is an illegal street drug known as blow, powder, snow, crack, rock, and coke. Powder cocaine is snorted or dissolved in water and injected.

Some users also take “speedballs” that combine cocaine and a depressant, such as an opiate like heroin or fentanyl.

People manufacture this stimulant using leaves from a coca plant, usually traced back to South America. Natives in the Amazonian Rainforest and surrounding areas used to chew on coca leaves to bring about an energetic high. In 1850, a scientist named Angelo Mariani was able to isolate a substance from coca leaves – cocaine – and added this substance to a wine that he named “Vin Mariani.” 

People began adding cocaine to medications claiming that it provided “energy” to those who were ill. The makers of Coca-Cola also added cocaine to its formula to make it more palatable.

In the 1900s, studies began pointing out the addictive nature of cocaine and other negative effects, but by this time, many people were already displaying signs of addiction. Then, in the 1980s, cocaine in the form of “crack rock” flooded the streets in disparaged neighborhoods triggering a crack epidemic.

Side Effects of Cocaine Use

People who are feeling depressed or low may use cocaine for its effects on the mind. They often turn to cocaine to give them an artificial high and a sense of happiness or relaxation.

Cocaine’s effect on neurons in the brain’s pleasure center, the Ventral Tegmental Area (VTA), triggers this high. The VTA is located deep within the brain. Neurotransmitters in this area of the brain are associated with pleasurable stimuli such as eating delicious food or sexual excitement.

It also stimulates the release of dopamine.

The effects of cocaine begin the moment the drug reaches the brain. The time it takes to reach the brain depends on the method of use and dosage, but it generally takes seconds.

After ingesting cocaine, you will feel an immediate rush of euphoria, followed by:

  • Increased alertness
  • Excitement
  • Burst of energy
  • Restlessness
  • Anxiety (paranoia)
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite

Brain chemistry changes, such as decreasing dopamine levels, are more likely with cocaine abuse. Long-term cocaine use can lead to the following side effects:

  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Psychosis
  • Strokes
  • Death

Although it may seem impossible to kick cocaine after long-term cocaine use, it is possible with the right treatment options. Behavioral health centers, such as Zinnia Healing, offer treatment plans for depression and chronic cocaine use. Contact us at (855) 430-9439 for more information. 

How Cocaine Causes Depression

Cocaine itself does not cause depression, but withdrawal from it can. This initial euphoria is only sustained by the continual use of cocaine. Stopping can bring on swift bouts of depression. These depressive spells continue until you use it again or you’ve gone long enough without it.

Cocaine Withdrawal

The initial euphoria people experience when using cocaine diminishes after the first use. As a result, people become addicted to cocaine by chasing their initial high, but they never achieve it. This could prompt them to stop using the drug or become depressed trying to chase the high.

As people come down from their high, they will experience dysphoria, “the crash,” which includes symptoms of cocaine withdrawal:

  • Mental exhaustion
  • Fatigue
  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Symptoms of depression:
  • Lack of interest in activities
  • Low mood
  • Sadness
  • Despair
  • Dissatisfaction with life
  • Craving for cocaine

People begin experiencing symptoms of cocaine withdrawal the moment they stop using it, even if they did not use it for a long period.

Not having enough money to sustain their habit can breed desperation and cause the person to steal to fund their drug habit. They may even steal from those they love. This causes immense guilt on top of the depressive effects of withdrawal.

Depression caused by cocaine withdrawal can last for months after stopping. According to Medline Plus, some people will even experience suicidal thoughts.

If you’ve stopped using cocaine and are experiencing thoughts of harming yourself, contact the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255). If you can’t use the phone number, reach out by texting 988 suicide or calling 988 24 hours a day.

Treating Cocaine and Depression

Recognizing you have a problem is the first step to receiving successful treatment for cocaine addiction and cocaine withdrawal.

Treating depression caused by cocaine withdrawal begins with treating the drug addiction itself.

This includes information relating to using like:

  • What caused you to use cocaine
  • How long you’ve used cocaine
  • What other drugs you’ve used alongside cocaine

Using this information, a drug counselor determines what treatment program will work for your recovery. Due to the addictive nature of this drug, stopping on your own can prove difficult.

For this reason, they may suggest going to a live-in (inpatient) drug-free treatment center for a specified period. During your stay in this program, you will receive medications (if needed) to help you better tolerate withdrawal symptoms and treat your depression.

Substance use disorder rehabilitation centers like Zinnia Healing offer dual-diagnosis programs to treat co-occurring disorders. These programs provide treatment for addiction and depression simultaneously.

Some of the addiction treatment options you may receive are:

  • Detoxification – Detox removes cocaine from your system in a medically-supervised environment. The goal is for your body to learn how to function without cocaine. During this 10-14 day detox, you won’t have access to cocaine. However, a medical professional will likely provide medication to stave off the effects of withdrawal and depression.
  • Talk therapy – Talk therapy, also called psychotherapy, takes place with a licensed psychologist, usually in a one-on-one setting. Talk therapy helps you understand your behaviors and why they led to cocaine use. In these sessions, you can talk to your therapist about your feelings and the goals you wish to achieve. Then, together you can work out ways to achieve these goals while coping with depression and withdrawal symptoms. Some talk therapy programs allow friends and family members to join in for added support.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of talk therapy that helps you understand how your thoughts and distortions of those thoughts drive your beliefs and behaviors. These sessions can uncover distortions in how you process experiences, which may have led to your decision to use cocaine. CBT is one of the most common evidence-based treatments for mental illnesses such as depressive disorder.
  • Narcotics Anonymous Meetings – In these meetings, people of all backgrounds and ways of life share their stories about drug use and how they strive to overcome addiction. The members of these groups never share any personal, identifying information and remain anonymous.
  • Alternative Treatments – Evidence-based treatments have extensive research supporting their efficacy. However, alternative treatments present some success in scientific trials though the research isn’t as extensive. Alternative treatment programs include yoga, meditation, and nature walks.
  • Aftercare – Aftercare includes outpatient services to help you overcome addiction symptoms while living your everyday life. This includes therapy or crisis lines for you to call.

Depression and cocaine addiction don’t have to be part of your future. By seeking help, you’re giving yourself the best chance at a happy and fulfilling life.

Are you experiencing symptoms of cocaine withdrawal, including depression? If so, Zinnia Healing can help. Call us at (855) 430-9439 to learn about our fully-accredited rehabilitation centers and life-changing substance abuse programs. Our experts know what it takes to achieve a clean and sober future. We offer polysubstance abuse treatment and treatment for mental health disorders such as depression. Your path to true sobriety begins here.

Related Articles