Drugs & Medications

Cocaine Increases Anxiety

Micah Abraham, BSc

Written by

Micah Abraham, BSc

Last updated October 10, 2020

Cocaine Increases Anxiety

Stimulants in general are not recommended when dealing with severe anxiety. Many people recommend against caffeine. Some even recommend against chocolate. But of all of the stimulants available today, the one that is essentially guaranteed to cause severe anxiety is cocaine.

Cocaine is an illegal recreational drug that causes severe anxiety, even in those that do not normally suffer from anxiety. If you also have an anxiety disorder, the potential for short and long-term consequences is high.

Where to Call if You Need Help

Before we begin, if you are someone that is struggling with cocaine addiction, there is help out there. Start at the following:

You can also search for a local treatment center or a therapist that specializes in drugs of abuse. There are options to help move you towards recovery, and there is no time too early to seek help.

The Many Reasons That Cocaine Causes Anxiety

It's clear that cocaine should be avoided. All hard drugs, regardless of the "high" they provide, have significant dangers and are known to ruin people's lives. Anxiety isn't anywhere close to the only reason that you should avoid cocaine, nor should cocaine be something you remotely consider.

It's also important to note that many people turn to drugs like cocaine because they suffer from anxiety, as the high itself becomes an addictive coping tool. That's why it's important to address mental health issues in addition to your drug use habits.

There are many different issues that appear to link cocaine to anxiety. They include:

  • Stimulant Before all else, cocaine is a stimulant, and stimulants can increase anxiety. Cocaine rapidly excites neurotransmitters, and while most people think that only low levels of neurotransmitters lead to anxiety, there are many - like norepinephrine - that in excess can create extreme levels of anxiety. Anxiety is one of the most common side effects of cocaine use, and symptoms may be worse when combined with an anxiety disorder.
  • Withdrawal Once cocaine wears off, withdrawal symptoms begin. During withdrawal, those same neurotransmitter levels decrease dramatically, often leading to depression and anxiety. The brain also tries to adapt and recover. Anxiety may increase as a result.
  • Cocaine Behaviors Many of the behaviors that people engage in while using cocaine can also lead to anxiety. For example, those that have chronically abused the drug may find themselves with severe insomnia, known to increase the likelihood of anxiety disorders.
  • Physical Stress The mind and body are intricately connected. Cocaine use can cause many physical stresses, from the way the nerves react to the drug to the itching that may result from long-term abuse. Physical stress often leads to mental stress and anxiety.
  • Lifestyle Finally, there are many characteristics associated with cocaine use (due to the legality, the effects, and the addictive power) that contribute to anxiety. It can be so addictive and inexpensive that many people experience serious personal consequences. It can cause severe dehydration (exacerbating anxiety), pain, psychomotor agitation, nausea, increased heart rate and more. All of these have components that may lead to the development of anxiety.

This is just a small sample of the number of ways that cocaine use can lead to severe anxiety. Because cocaine is highly addictive, some people may develop dependency with only a few doses.

Research has long supported the evidence that cocaine related anxiety may be a significant challenge to those that struggle with the addiction. One study found that panic attacks first triggered by cocaine use did not go away even after the person quit using cocaine. Another study showed that some people that used crack/cocaine developed a higher anxiety sensitivity which made them more prone to post-traumatic stress disorder.

These are only some of the many studies that show a clear relationship between cocaine use and the development of anxiety or increase in the amount of anxiety a person experiences.

It's also important to remember that anxiety is often self-sustaining. Even if you only use cocaine once and it leaves your system without a problem, any anxiety you experience while on cocaine does have the potential to last, simply because anxiety tends to fuel itself by starting various fears, and eventually you may develop chronic stress or an anxiety disorder.

Anxiety/Stress and Drug Use

Finally, one of the most forgotten reasons to avoid drugs like cocaine is that they cause psychological dependence. When you use any drug - even alcohol - to cope with anxiety and stress, you may become psychologically and physiologically depend on it for temporary relief. Eventually, you essentially lose your own mental ability to control anxiety, and you may require substances to manage even minimally stressful situations.

That's one of the reasons that many people that have quit drugs like cocaine have gone back to them months or years later, despite knowing the effects they have. It's not just physiological dependence (which is when your body actually craves the drug). It's also psychological dependence, because you may slowly decrease your ability to adjust without it.

Controlling Anxiety - Quitting/Avoiding Cocaine

One of the reasons that drug use is so prevalent in the world today is because most countries go about drug use incorrectly. They focus on the health hazards and make the drug illegal. While drugs are dangerous and can be dangerous enough to cause death or long term disability, the main reason people turn to these drugs is because they are struggling to cope with the stresses of life.

So that's what should be a priority - making sure that you're learning how to enjoy life as is, reducing your stress and anxiety so that you have no desire or need to try drugs like cocaine. If more people were able to control their stress and anxiety and find more joy out of life, fewer people would ever bother to take recreational drugs that cause so much long term harm.

Questions? Comments?

Do you have a specific question that this article didn’t answered? Send us a message and we’ll answer it for you!

Ask Doctor a Question


Where can I go to learn more about Jacobson’s relaxation technique and other similar methods?

– Anonymous patient


You can ask your doctor for a referral to a psychologist or other mental health professional who uses relaxation techniques to help patients. Not all psychologists or other mental health professionals are knowledgeable about these techniques, though. Therapists often add their own “twist” to the technqiues. Training varies by the type of technique that they use. Some people also buy CDs and DVDs on progressive muscle relaxation and allow the audio to guide them through the process.

Ask Doctor a Question

Read This Next

This is a highly respected resource Trusted Source

🍪 Pssst, we have Cookies!

We use Cookies to give you the best online experience. More information can be found here. By continuing you accept the use of Cookies in accordance with our Cookie Policy.