It may be surprising to hear, but cocaine and depression often go hand-in-hand. Treatment is critical for anyone who is abusing or addicted to this stimulant drug if they want to recover.

But why do people who are depressed gravitate toward cocaine? And what treatment options are available for recovery? We’d like to help you get some answers to these two important questions.

The Link Between Cocaine and Depression

Cocaine is a powerful stimulant drug that causes a strong, euphoric high. People who begin abusing cocaine often do so because they are self-medicating. If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, you may have decided to use cocaine because it brought you temporary relief.

Symptoms of depression include:

  • Persistently feeling sad or “empty”
  • Feeling guilty or worthless
  • Having thoughts of suicide
  • Changes in weight and appetite
  • Losing interest in hobbies and other activities

If you are depressed, using cocaine may make you feel normal again, at least for a short time. This quickly becomes a cycle in which you have to use this stimulant to feel more like yourself.

How Does Cocaine Affect the Brain?

Cocaine works by stimulating the production of dopamine in the brain. This is your brain’s “reward system,” and dopamine is the chemical that makes you feel happy and experience pleasure.

As dopamine gets released into your brain, it settles into the spaces between the neurons. Some of it is absorbed by nearby cells to be used later on, a process called reuptake. It is your brain’s way of making sure enough dopamine will always be available for you.

When you use cocaine, the dopamine reuptake process is blocked. This causes excessive amounts of the chemical to build up, which leads to feelings of euphoria and excitability.

As time goes on, your brain will come to rely on cocaine in order to produce any dopamine at all. If you stop using, you may fall into a deep depression and even become suicidal. At that point, your cocaine abuse has become an addiction in need of treatment.

If this is the situation you have found yourself in, treatment can help. Please call Olympus Recovery at (866) 305-7134 and talk with us about your options.

Does Cocaine Cause Depression?

While there are a lot of people who use cocaine as a way to self-medicate their depression, this drug can also cause depression.

In one study, researchers determined that cocaine abuse caused many psychiatric disorders and symptoms, including depression. The study further indicates that people with mental health disorders who abuse this drug are likely to experience more severe symptoms.

As you continue to abuse cocaine, you may notice that using the drug is the only way you can feel any pleasure at all. Without it, you may have severe mood swings, feel unmotivated, and fall into a deep depression. Eventually, the drug will stop working to alleviate your depression symptoms, and you may only feel the other effects it offers, such as anxiety and paranoia.

How Addictive Is Cocaine?

Cocaine is highly addictive, and some experts believe it’s among the most addictive drugs available. There are a few reasons why once you start abusing this drug, it’s difficult to stop.

Cocaine Offers Positive Reinforcement

Once you begin abusing cocaine, you immediately experience a euphoric high that is unlike anything else. Because it is a stimulant drug, it’s very different from other substances like alcohol and heroin.

Cocaine will make you feel more confident, increase your energy levels, and wake you up. Abusers quickly associate it with only positive feelings, which makes them want to abuse it again and again.

Cocaine Offers a Short-Lived High

The high cocaine offers is rather intense, but it is also short-lived. You’ll probably start to come down from the high within five to 30 minutes. The only way to get that feeling back again is to use more cocaine.

That fact alone is what causes people to become repeat users, and it doesn’t take long before they get addicted.

Cocaine Tolerance Builds Quickly

If you use cocaine regularly, you have probably noticed that you need to use more of the drug to get the same euphoric feelings. That is because your body is building a tolerance to cocaine, much like it does with other drugs.

This is also exactly why you may have started using cocaine only on weekends and then increased to daily use.

Cocaine May be Mixed With Other Drugs

Once you have been using cocaine for some time, you may try to combine it with other drugs to increase its effects. Heroin and alcohol are typically mixed with cocaine, and both can increase its short-term effects, making it even more addictive.

What Are the Long-Term Effects of Cocaine Abuse?

Continuing to use cocaine will lead to negative long-term effects, such as:

  • Withdrawal symptoms such as mood swings when not using
  • Panic attacks
  • Paranoia
  • Psychosis
  • Hallucinations
  • Feelings of restlessness
  • Nosebleeds
  • Loss of smell
  • Problems with swallowing

In addition, severe neurological disorders, seizures, and stroke can all occur in people who use cocaine long-term.

This is a dangerous drug, and while it might seem like fun at first, continuing to use it will only have negative consequences.

Cocaine Withdrawal

Stopping the use of cocaine once you are addicted will lead to withdrawal symptoms. You will likely experience an increase in the severity of your depression symptoms, but there are other effects as well. Some common cocaine withdrawal symptoms are:

  • Excessive fatigue
  • Increased appetite
  • Scary dreams
  • Feeling agitated and restless
  • An overall feeling of slowness

Cocaine withdrawal is hard to deal with on your own. But fortunately, you do not have to. Help is available in the form of cocaine addiction treatment.

Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment for Cocaine Addiction and Depression

When you suffer from a mental health condition like depression and you are also addicted to a drug like cocaine, you have a co-occurring disorder. Co-occurring disorders are very common, and the psychological aspect of addiction should never be ignored.

Unless both conditions are addressed and treated simultaneously, drug use is likely to continue. That is why we recommend co-occurring disorder treatment for all of our patients who need it.

Drug Detox

The first step in recovering from cocaine addiction is to go through drug detox. Your brain and body have undergone significant changes since you started using this drug, and treatment is needed to minimize withdrawal.

Cocaine detox specifically treats your withdrawal symptoms, making it easier to stop the use of cocaine altogether. We have found that the best approach to cocaine detox includes a combination of behavioral therapy, medications, and holistic treatment options.

With treatment, you should be feeling better in about a week to 10 days, although every patient is different. Once you have gone through detox, you will be ready to embark upon the next phase of recovery, which is rehab and co-occurring disorder treatment.

Drug Rehab

If you suffer from depression, cocaine addiction treatment offers you hope. Your treatment team will focus on the reasons behind your addiction and specifically target your depression symptoms.

Cocaine rehab will provide you with therapeutic ways to manage your depression so that you no longer feel the need to turn to cocaine to get relief. You may experience various types of treatment during this time, including:

  • Behavioral therapy
  • Experiential therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy

A comprehensive, unique treatment plan will be discussed with you according to your personal needs. The goal is to help you feel better so that you can get your life back on track.

Contact Olympus Recovery for Depression and Cocaine Addiction Treatment

At Olympus Recovery, we understand the need to self-medicate when you are struggling with depression. It’s hard to manage your symptoms, and if other methods haven’t worked for you in the past, it makes sense that you would try to do it on your own.

However, please know that there are better ways to deal with depression. Cocaine is not the answer, but if you need help because you are addicted, help is available.

Are you ready to pursue treatment for cocaine and depression? Please contact us today.


  1. NIH.gov. Depression. September 2022. Available at NIMH.NIH.gov.
  2. NIH.gov. How does cocaine produce its effects?. June 11, 2020. Available at NIDA.NIH.gov.
  3. NLM.NIH.gov. Cocaine and Psychiatric Symptoms. August 1, 1999. Available at NCBI.NLM.NIH.gov.
  4. NIH.gov. What are the long-term effects of cocaine use?. May 2016. Available at NIDA.NIH.gov.
  5. gov. Cocaine withdrawal. February 12, 2021. Available at MedlinePlus.gov.

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