Signs and Symptoms of Cocaine Induced Psychosis

When someone abuses cocaine in the long term, side effects can occur that constitute a type of cocaine induced psychosis. The individual will start to show signs of a disorder that is similar to schizophrenia, even if they have never experienced anything similar to this before. It is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of cocaine induced psychosis so that you can identify them in yourself or others and get the treatment needed in such a case.

Symptoms of Cocaine Induced Psychosis

For the most part, cocaine induced psychosis is a mental disorder. It occurs when an individual has been taking cocaine for a prolonged amount of time (usually months or years), and they experience changes in the way the brain works caused by their use of cocaine. This is why most of the issues that occur with cocaine psychosis are psychological and, therefore, experienced only by the patient.

The most common symptoms of cocaine induced psychosis are:

  • Irritability
    You will feel annoyed with everyone and everything around you and especially touchy because of the extreme way that they drug has caused changes to your brain.
  • Feeling detached from your environment
    This can often occur as a symptom of a panic attack, which are common during full-blown cocaine psychosis. But even when you are not having a panic attack, you may feel uncomfortable and detached from everyone and everything in your life.
  • Delirium
    According to a study from the NCBI, you will experience what is “a potentially fatal syndrome marked by severe, fluctuating confusion.”
  • Restlessness
    You will feel unable to sit still or sleep and as well as being extremely jumpy. Your restlessness may be obvious only to you or to others as well.
  • Paranoia
    You will become extremely paranoid and feel unable to trust anyone. The cocaine in your system will be causing these feelings, but they will seem absolutely legitimate to you.
  • Losing your grip on reality
    You will experience hallucinations and other unreal sights, sounds, and, most commonly with cocaine, sensations that you physically feel but are not actually there. According to CESAR, the “tactile hallucination after using cocaine that creates the illusion of bugs burrowing under the skin” is called coke bugs and is one of the most intense symptoms of cocaine induced psychosis.

These symptoms may all occur with varying degrees of severity, but it is safe to say that if you have never experienced them before and are abusing cocaine in heavy amounts that they are being caused by the drug. Sometimes, someone who does not realize that they already have a mental disorder like schizophrenia might abuse cocaine and strengthen or uncover these symptoms, so without proper treatment, it can be difficult to be sure.

The NIDA states, “Users take cocaine in ‘binges,’ during which the cocaine is used repeatedly and at increasingly higher doses.” This can lead to cocaine induced psychosis so look for the symptoms of this disorder and seek treatment as soon as possible.

Signs of Cocaine Induced Psychosis

cocaine mental effects

Experiencing paranoia, restlessness, and delusions are all signs of cocaine psychosis.

It can be difficult to be sure whether or not someone has this disorder temporarily as a side effect of cocaine abuse or if these symptoms point to a disorder that already existed before. The important part is getting the person into treatment so their needs and treatment plan can be sorted out. The signs of cocaine induced psychosis are usually very clear as the individual experiences strong mental symptoms that manifest in there behavior. They will also most likely:

  • Abuse cocaine every day or nearly as often
  • Abuse cocaine in a binge pattern for several hours or days at a time
  • Abuse cocaine more than in just a social setting
  • Have been taking cocaine heavily for a long time, at least the point of months or years

The signs of cocaine induced psychosis will be largely behavioral, but a person will have physical reactions as well. Here are the main signs of cocaine psychosis:

  • Panic attacks which include
    • Shortness of breath
    • Shaking
    • Heart palpitations
  • “Stereotyped compulsive behavior” (CHCE)
    The individual will behave very intensely, be unable to stop taking cocaine, and possibly exhibit other types of compulsive behavior.
  • Aggression
    The individual will become incredibly aggressive and angry. This is a state where it may not be safe for you to engage with the person because there is a tendency toward violent behavior.
  • Violence
    According to the NCBI, “Inhalation of crack cocaine has been found to produce a greater amount of anger and violence than intranasal use of cocaine.” This type of behavior can also often lead to homicide and suicide, which are both common outcomes for violent individuals under the influence of cocaine psychosis.
  • “Autonomic nervous system instability”
    This also occurs with the symptoms of delirium and can include “severe blood pressure changes,” fluctuation in pulse, and extreme sweating.
  • Refusal to believe others
    The individual will become extremely paranoid and refuse to believe what others say. According to another study from the NCBI, “Ninety percent [of the subjects interviewed] developed paranoid delusions directly related to drug use.”

The signs of cocaine induced psychosis will usually show a person unable to connect to reality and becoming unstable, violent, and dangerous. If you notice any of these behaviors or physical signs in someone you love who abuses cocaine regularly, they are likely experiencing this kind of psychosis. The only way for them to get better is to receive formal substance abuse treatment which will mostly consist of therapy and possible medications to lower the symptoms of psychosis.

How Can I Be Sure…

That these symptoms and signs are only caused by the cocaine abuse itself and not by a possible psychosis that has gone untreated and been fueled by my cocaine abuse? The only way to know for sure is to seek help. If you do, your condition will be treated either way, and you will be able to slowly get your life back. It is important to seek treatment as soon as possible before your condition becomes worse.


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