Cocaine is a stimulant drug that speeds up brain activity, which can worsen anxiety. When the effects wear off, people commonly experience anxiety as a part of withdrawal.

Anxiety is one of the most common mental health disorders people face.  People living with anxiety experience rumination, which is the continued overthinking of the same thoughts or concerns, often not backed up by logic or evidence. Likewise, anxiety caused by rumination cannot be diffused with simple reasoning.

Despite cocaine being illegal, the drug is extremely popular and often abused to reduce negative feelings. For this reason, cocaine and anxiety are linked. While people may attempt to raise their self-esteem with cocaine, abusing the drug can worsen anxiety.

Article at a Glance:

If you or someone you know struggles with anxiety, there are important factors to consider before using cocaine to cope with anxiety or for recreational purposes:

  • Cocaine is a stimulant drug that speeds up brain activity, which can worsen anxiety.
  • When the effects of cocaine wear off, people routinely experience anxiety as part of the withdrawal from the drug.
  • If someone has a cocaine addiction along with an anxiety disorder, they should seek treatment for both conditions at the same time since addiction and mental health often affect one another.

Do People Use Cocaine to Cope With Anxiety?

Cocaine is a stimulant that increases brain activity and produces certain chemicals that can improve a person’s self-esteem and energy level. People under the effects of cocaine are often more comfortable interacting with other people and less worried about how they are perceived. While these effects are temporary, they can provide short-term relief from specific anxiety disorders, such as social anxiety or generalized anxiety.

Most medical experts recommend that people struggling with anxiety use anti-anxiety or anti-depression medications. However, some people may turn to cocaine for immediate relief from their stress or rumination.

Does Cocaine Cause Anxiety?

Cocaine speeds up the activity of certain neurotransmitters in the brain. This interaction physically and mentally energizes people. Due to the increased brain activity, people may experience racing, uncontrollable thoughts, some of which could be paranoid or negative.

Using cocaine consistently can cause someone to become reliant on the drug to avoid anxious thoughts. When people become dependent on cocaine, they are likely to experience withdrawal symptoms if they go an extended period without the drug. Anxiety is one of the most common withdrawal symptoms of cocaine addiction.

Other recognizable anxiety symptoms that may hint at cocaine abuse include:

  • Being stressed by the opinions of peers
  • The inability to sleep
  • Restlessness
  • Feeling nauseous or dizzy
  • Overthinking or worrying about upcoming events or past situations

Cocaine Anxiety Attacks

For some people, using cocaine causes anxiety. The anxious feelings can materialize from the drug’s mental effects or when that person experiences cocaine withdrawal. If someone abuses cocaine, anxiety attacks may occur.

Anxiety Coming Down From Cocaine

How long a cocaine high lasts varies based on the method of use. Inhaling the drug or injecting it through the skin usually results in an immediate high that lasts for a short time. Snorting cocaine or ingesting it through the mouth usually causes delayed effects that last for a longer amount of time.

When the effects of cocaine wear off, people often experience negative feelings or thoughts. Regardless of how a person uses the drug, they can still experience a coke comedown. Anxiety is common as the cocaine high dissipates.

Treating Co-Occurring Substance Use & Anxiety

Cocaine use can cause anxiety, but treatment options are available and can help people who struggle with an addiction to the stimulant drug. Like any two co-occurring disorders, when someone struggles with cocaine dependence and anxiety together, they should seek treatment for both conditions.

Since anxiety can lead people to use cocaine, not addressing mental health disorders while undergoing rehab from cocaine addiction can result in future setbacks. Medical professionals at reputable rehab facilities will design treatment plans to address both the addiction and anxiety. Addressing both disorders involves learning coping strategies to manage feelings of anxiety healthily rather than relying on mind-altering substances.

If you or a loved one believe you have a cocaine use disorder, take The Recovery Village Assessment. Knowledge of the condition is the first step to recovery.

Feelings of depression or anxiety can lead to suicidal thinking. If you or a loved one is experiencing suicidal thoughts or tendencies, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

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Editor – Melissa Carmona
Melissa Carmona puts years of writing and editing experience to work helping people understand substance abuse, addiction and mental health disorders. Read more
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Medically Reviewed By – Eric Patterson, LPC
Eric Patterson is a licensed professional counselor in the Pittsburgh area who is dedicated to helping children, adults, and families meet their treatment goals. Read more

National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Research Report Series: Cocaine.” June 11, 2020. Accessed June 16, 2020.

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.