Cocaine use and antisocial behavioral disorder frequently occur together. Learn how these two conditions relate and how they can be treated together.

Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) is a highly misunderstood mental health condition. People with this disorder have trouble empathizing with or understanding the emotions of others. Because of this challenge, they may engage in behaviors that go against social norms. In many cases, especially with proper help, people with ASPD lead healthy, fulfilling lives, though they may experience social situations differently.

The media frequently portrays people with ASPD as criminals, which is often not the case. Though people with ASPD may be more likely to commit crimes, antisocial behavior is sometimes also exhibited as manipulating others or simply disregarding safety for themselves and others. Misusing drugs such as cocaine is one such antisocial behavior.

Article at a Glance:

Many people who use cocaine have ASPD and vice versa

Both ASPD and cocaine use can lead to antisocial behaviors like aggression, lying and property damage, especially when combined

Cocaine use can cause substance-induced mood disorders, which may be a cause of ASPD

Both can be successfully treated with psychotherapy and, sometimes, medications

Prevalence of Cocaine Abuse with ASPD

Substance use disorders are often prevalent among people with different personality disorders. Cocaine dependency, in particular, is frequently associated with a personality disorder of some sort. Studies found an estimated 11% to 20%of people with a cocaine dependency also have ASPD, and those with ASPD and cocaine dependency have been using the drug for an average period of 10.95 years.

How Does Cocaine Affect People with Antisocial Personality Disorder?

People with ASPD are already prone to acting out in criminal ways than people without the condition. Cocaine use increases the likelihood of violent behavior. Cocaine use can cause paranoid delusions and hallucinations, which can cause people to act aggressively, especially when the tendency to do so already exists.

People with a cocaine use disorder display more antisocial behaviors in their lifestyles. For example, those people may resort to stealing or prostitution to obtain money to buy drugs. People with ASPD often do not feel guilty or remorseful when committing crimes, lying and harming others. Therefore, they are more likely to turn to these types of behaviors to feed their addiction.

Can Cocaine Abuse Cause Antisocial Personality Disorder?

While ASPD is considered a risk factor for cocaine dependency, it is not yet known if the reverse is also true. The actual causes of ASPD are still unknown. Though it has not been shown directly yet, recent research indicates that there is likely a link between cocaine use and the development of ASPD. One study found that people with ASPD are likely to have a substance-induced mood disorder like depression or psychosis.

Aside from being a direct cause, cocaine use disorders have some risk factors in common with ASPD. These include:

  • A parent with a substance use disorder
  • Child abuse
  • Other personality disorders

Treatment Options for ASPD and Comorbid Substance Use Disorders

Having ASPD can indicate a poorer prognosis for substance use disorders, like cocaine use. However, it is possible for both to be managed together successfully. Often, patients with ASPD first seek treatment because of legal or financial problems stemming from cocaine use.

Related Topic: Antisocial personality disorder treatment

While personality disorders are thought to be life-long patterns of behavior, their symptoms can be managed effectively. For people with co-occurring substance use disorders, both must be treated at the same time for either to be successful. On top of medical treatment for cocaine withdrawal, ASPD and cocaine use are usually treated together with psychotherapy. One type, dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), which is a specialized form of cognitive-behavioral therapy, has a high success rate. Sometimes medications are used to help with certain symptoms, like depression or anxiety.

Substance use disorders like cocaine dependency often come with hurtful and antisocial behaviors. If you or a loved one are struggling with cocaine use and antisocial behavioral disorder, you can find help to treat both conditions. Contact The Recovery Village today to find out how personalized treatment programs can help you address addiction and any co-occurring mental health disorders.

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
Dr. Anna Pickering
Medically Reviewed By – Dr. Anna Pickering, PhD
Dr. Anna Pickering has a PhD in Cell and Molecular Biology. Anna works as a medical writer. She grew up in Oregon, where she developed a love for science, nature, and writing. Read more

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Parmar A, Kaloiya G. “Comorbidity of Personality Disorder among Substance Use Disorder Patients: A Narrative Review“>Comorbid[…]rative Review.” Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine, November-December 2018. Accessed May 11, 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.