Cocaine Anxiety

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Both anxiety and chronic use of stimulants like cocaine  are more prevalent than ever. (Evidence to back up this claim?) What often goes overlooked is the relationship anxiety and cocaine use disorder have on one another, and how the treatment options for both disorders are often related. Continuous use of this powerful substance will begin to have an effect on the user’s brain, which  impacts how the user experiences anxiety. Dealing with each of these issues simultaneously is considered a “dual diagnosis” and at Guardian Recovery you will receive the specialized treatment to address and overcome the substance use disorder component as well as the related mental health components. Guardian Recovery is equipped with licensed mental health professionals to address the needs of the whole person as they begin their recovery journey. If you or someone you know may be struggling with a dual diagnosis, reach out to Guardian recovery Network for education, information, and help.

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What Are The Symptoms of Anxiety?

The term “anxiety” can address a wide spectrum of diagnosable mental health conditions as well as being a description of how you may be feeling under stressful or worrisome life circumstances. Though they vary greatly in severity, there are a few symptoms that ring true throughout that may be able to help you better identify the feeling of anxiety.

Physical symptoms can include behaviors such as restlessness or the need to constantly be moving. This can also include trembling or sweating that may result from more extreme forms of physical manifestations of anxiety. Weakness and tiredness can also be indicators that you have been dealing with anxiety. Inability to sleep and the accompanying irritability are all potential indicators that anxiety may be having an effect on you.

Physical Symptoms of Anxiety Include:

  • Profuse sweating.
  • Trembling or shaking.
  • Weakness.
  • Sleep-related issues.

Mental symptoms include, most notably, racing and uncontrollable thoughts. These thoughts are often centered on worries or fears that may be both rational or irrational. These thoughts may begin to progress to paranoia and aversion to anxiety inducing behaviors. Inability to concentrate and remember may also come into play as well due to your mental energy and focus being occupied by the racing and worrying thoughts.

However it manifests, anxiety can be detrimental to your well-being especially when coupled with a substance use disorder.

How Does Cocaine Use Affect Anxiety?

In the same way that anxiety has an effect on the mind and body, cocaine also has a dramatic effect on these elements as well. The regular overuse of stimulants like cocaine can negatively impact  overall mental health  and will frequently worsen an already existent anxiety diagnosis. Rarely are those in active addiction getting the regular treatment they need for their Anxiety and mixing this behavior with overstimulation of the brain through cocaine use can lead to increased anxiety over time.

In the same way that anxiety can cause racing and worrisome thoughts, cocaine use can stimulate the brain to compound the rate and severity of these thoughts. These can begin to take the form of paranoia more rapidly and increase in severity over time.

Is Cocaine Used to Self-Treat & Manage Anxiety Symptoms?

When symptoms associated with anxiety go untreated for an extended period of time, an individual may turn to  chemical substances as a way to self-medicate. As with any substance use disorder, one of the immediate effects  (replace the term “substance user” with “person” or “individual”) a person might be looking for is a sense of escape. With anxiety present, this escape can seem more difficult to resist as the user feels unable to control anxious thoughts or feelings. Though it will lead to long term consequences, the user will feel an immediate temporary “high” as their brain becomes flooded with the multitude of chemicals that induce these feelings of euphoria. As with any high, and especially that of cocaine, it will end quickly leaving the user to feel potentially more anxious than before due to the added shame of attempting, and failing, to manage a substance use disorder.

Another common misconception is that cocaine and prescription medication used to treat ADHD, such as Adderall, will have generally the same effect and allow the user to receive the benefits of focus and attention that could come as a result of taking a prescription. Though both substances could be classified as a stimulant, they are two very different substances. Adderall is a regulated amphetamine substance that is given under the care of a doctor and should only be taken as prescribed that serves a very specific purpose in the way that it interacts with the brain and body. Cocaine is not regulated and will not have the same effect on the mind and body often having the adverse reaction that the substance user seeks.

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Anxiety as a Co-Occurring Disorder  With Cocaine Use

Anxiety affects more than 40 million people worldwide, so it comes as no surprise that those who often use cocaine will fall into this category. Though it is inconclusive to say that cocaine causes anxiety, it is accurate to say that over time anxiety symptoms will worsen with extended cocaine use and lack of treatment. It is also fair to conclude that many who suffer from anxiety will turn to using a powerful substance, like cocaine, to escape the feelings and side effects that are associated with that anxiety. It is difficult to decipher if the anxiety is brought on by the cocaine use or if there was existing anxiety that was magnified by the cocaine use.

Treatment of Anxiety & Co-Occurring Disorders

The treatment options for a dual diagnosis disorder are not dependent upon which came first and there is help available regardless of the root causes through assessment and individualized therapy from a mental health professional. Trained clinicians will be able to offer various treatment modalities to begin the process of recovery from both the substance use disorder as well as Anxiety and the various other mental health conditions that may be found in those struggling to remain sober. Some treatment options may include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) which is designed to help in discovering the relationship between your thoughts, beliefs, and actions. Similarly, group therapy can be a powerful tool in allowing someone struggling with a dual diagnosis to process with and feel supported by others in similar situations. Taking steps towards stabilizing mental health conditions is extremely important when it comes to building a foundation for long-term success in recovery.

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At Guardian Recovery, we understand the relationship between substance use disorders and mental health conditions like anxiety. Our trained clinicians will be able to accurately assess the needs of each individual client and offer the tools needed for a life of freedom in recovery. Simply contact Guardian Recovery for any questions concerning the process of seeking treatment for a dual diagnosis or any substance use disorder. You are able to begin with a free no obligation insurance benefit check that will be handled by one of our trained admissions team who know the difficulty that can be associated in making the decision to seek treatment and are determined to make the process as easy as possible. There is hope and it may simply be one call away.


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Disclaimer: Does not guarantee specific treatment outcomes, as individual results may vary. Our services are not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis; please consult a qualified healthcare provider for such matters.


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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave


Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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