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Cocaine Psychosis And Paranoia – Effects And Dangers

Medically reviewed by

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

Paranoia can be a side effect of cocaine use. Prolonged cocaine abuse can result in a dangerous condition known as cocaine psychosis.

Individuals abuse cocaine for the euphoria and overall increased sense of well-being. When the person stops abusing cocaine, it can result in increased levels of depression and anxiety. Many people continue to binge cocaine to continue the positive effects and decrease the negative effects, not realizing that repeatedly abusing cocaine over a period of time can increase paranoia levels and put them at risk for developing cocaine psychosis.

Studies have indicated that cocaine psychosis is linked to a dopamine deficiency from extended cocaine abuse. Over half of those who have abused cocaine stated they have experienced cocaine psychosis as a result of cocaine use. Cocaine psychosis can intensify over time, with continued use.

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Cocaine Psychosis Symptoms

Individuals who have experienced cocaine psychosis reported symptoms that were very similar to less intense symptoms of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Some of these symptoms of cocaine psychosis include:

  • anger
  • delirium
  • disorganized thoughts
  • violence
  • anxiety
  • paranoia
  • hallucinations
  • delusions
  • suicidal or homicidal ideations

The three main symptoms of cocaine psychosis are paranoia, hallucinations, and delusions. These three symptoms can lead to a person becoming violent, extremely suspicious, placing themselves in real danger, or engaging in activities that result in conflict with others.

Cocaine Psychosis Risk Factors

The way cocaine affects dopamine levels seems to be a key factor in the development of cocaine psychosis. Many factors can affect dopamine levels, which in turn can influence the emergence of cocaine psychosis. Some of these risk factors are:

  • BMI
  • age
  • gender
  • method of cocaine administration
  • amount of cocaine ingested
  • how long cocaine has been abused
  • genetic makeup

Any combination of risk factors can influence the development of cocaine psychosis in people who abuse cocaine.

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Treating Cocaine Psychosis

It is incredibly important that a person experiencing cocaine psychosis stop using cocaine as soon as possible. This should be accomplished under medical supervision, ideally at a detoxification facility. Once the individual has removed the cocaine from their body, an assessment can be completed to determine the next stage of treatment.

Some individuals may benefit from medication to treat psychosis symptoms, and therapy is usually recommended. An inpatient or outpatient substance abuse treatment program is suggested for individuals who struggle with cocaine addiction.

Cocaine psychosis is usually a temporary condition, but higher levels of cocaine use usually increase the severity of symptoms. With individuals who use cocaine heavily, some symptoms of cocaine psychosis can last for months. Cocaine psychosis can cause people to harm themselves or those around them and have permanent consequences.

Treatment for cocaine addiction or cocaine psychosis can start now. There are rehab facilities available that can help alleviate the symptoms of cocaine psychosis while providing substance abuse treatment for cocaine addiction.

Current Neuropharmacology -

International Congress on Schizophrenic Research -

Substance Use and the Acute Psychiatric Patient -

Medically reviewed by

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC
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