How are cocaine use and adjustment disorder related? Find out how adjustment disorder can raise your risk of cocaine addiction and how cocaine use worsens adjustment disorder.

Adjustment disorder is a temporary mental health condition that occurs after a significant change in someone’s life. This change can be a loss, relationship problem, stressful situation or another significant life change. Adjustment disorder is a decreased ability to cope with the change. The disorder results in several symptoms, including low mood, insomnia, sadness, anxiety, and anger. These symptoms are generally not as severe as a true depression and typically last for less than six months after they start.

Those who have adjustment disorder are more likely to use cocaine and other substances than they usually would be. Because adjustment disorder is caused by a decreased ability to cope with the change in circumstances, those with adjustment disorder are more likely to try substance use as a potential coping mechanism. Cocaine is likely to be misused with certain mental health disorders and may be more likely to be misused for adjustment disorder, as it is a stimulant and can create increased energy and elevated mood.

Article at a Glance:

Adjustment disorder significantly raises the risk of starting cocaine use

Using cocaine prolongs the recovery process of adjustment disorder

Cocaine use with adjustment disorder can lead to a long-term addiction

The effects of cocaine on adjustment disorder are negative

Using cocaine to treat adjustment disorder could lead to a lifelong addiction

Prevalence of Cocaine Abuse and Comorbid Adjustment Disorder

Studies show that 2 to 8% of people have had adjustment disorder at some point in their life. While there are not any statistics available that reveal the frequency of cocaine abuse by those with adjustment disorder, it has been found that 76% of people admitted to a hospital for adjustment disorder were also diagnosed with a substance misuse disorder.

While statistics for cocaine specifically may not be readily available, substances — like cocaine — are more likely to be misused during adjustment disorder as the person struggles to find a way to cope with the situation that initially caused the adjustment disorder. Cocaine is a commonly misused substance, so it is reasonable to assume that it is likely one of the more commonly misused substances people use with adjustment disorder.

Does Cocaine Affect Adjustment Disorder Recovery?

Cocaine can cause several negative effects involving adjustment disorder recovery. Cocaine is addictive, and when used as a way of coping with adjustment disorder, addiction could develop. While using cocaine as a coping mechanism could lead to addiction, there are also several ways cocaine can affect the recovery from adjustment disorder. These include:

  • Reducing other healthy coping techniques
  • Delaying recovery
  • Decreasing social support systems

Reducing Healthy Coping Techniques

Cocaine misuse can lead to a decrease in socialization and other healthy activities beneficial to recovery. Cocaine use may also become a crutch that keeps people from exploring other ways of coping with the situation that generated the adjustment disorder, thus negating the potential use of helpful treatment options.

Delayed Recovery

Adjustment disorder lasts for less than six months. One of the key factors in recovering from adjustment disorder is finding coping mechanisms that help to reduce the effects of the situation that caused it. Using an unhealthy coping mechanism, such as cocaine, can delay the recovery process and mean that the recovery process needs to start over again once cocaine use stops.

Decreased Social Support

Cocaine use and the social effects of addiction lead to increased social isolation. This isolation can make the effects of the initial change worse and can lead to a decrease in the social support needed to cope with the change. Increased social isolation could also increase the risk that the adjustment disorder could become more severe and lead to more long-term depression.

If you or a loved one are struggling with cocaine addiction, consider seeking professional help. The Recovery Village has a strong track record of helping people overcome cocaine addictions and achieve recovery. Reach out to one of our understanding representatives today to learn more about how The Recovery Village can help you start on your path to recovery.

Thomas Christiansen
Editor – Thomas Christiansen
With over a decade of content experience, Tom produces and edits research articles, news and blog posts produced for Advanced Recovery Systems. Read more
Benjamin Caleb Williams
Medically Reviewed By – Benjamin Caleb Williams, RN
Benjamin Caleb Williams is a board-certified Emergency Nurse with several years of clinical experience, including supervisory roles within the ICU and ER settings. Read more

Frank, Julia B. “Adjustment Disorders”. Medscape, November 1, 2016. Accessed May 16, 2019.

Ford, Julian D. “Association of Psychiatric and Substance[…]ependent Individuals.” Drug and Alcohol Dependence, January 2009. Accessed May 16, 2019.

Mid-Michigan Medical Center. “Adjustment Disorder.” Mental Health Matters, September 2011. Accessed May 16, 2019.

Carta, Mauro G. “Adjustment Disorder: epidemiology, diagnosis, and treatment.” Clinical Practice and Epidemiology in Mental Health, June 2009. Accessed May 16, 2019.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.