What Is Cocaine-Induced Psychosis?

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Cocaine-induced psychosis happens when a person experiences psychosis symptoms during or after using cocaine. These symptoms include losing touch with reality, feeling very paranoid, seeing or hearing things that aren’t there, and becoming very aggressive or violent.

Cocaine affects the brain’s reward system. When someone uses cocaine, their brain releases a lot of dopamine, a chemical that makes them feel good. Too much dopamine can cause psychosis. Using crack cocaine, which is a stronger form of the drug, can cause psychosis quicker because it raises dopamine levels faster. Read on to find out how you can avoid cocaine-induced psychosis and how to get effective cocaine addiction treatment.

How Does Cocaine Cause Psychosis?

Cocaine can cause psychosis by changing the way the brain works. Here’s how it happens:

  • Increases dopamine: Cocaine makes the brain release a lot of dopamine, a feel-good chemical. Too much dopamine can cause psychosis.
  • Affects brain chemistry: High dopamine levels can mess up normal brain functions. This can lead to seeing or hearing things that aren’t real (hallucinations) and believing things that aren’t true (delusions).
  • Alters mood: Cocaine can cause extreme mood changes. People might feel happy and then suddenly become very angry or scared. These mood swings can contribute to psychosis.
  • Impairs judgment: Cocaine affects the parts of the brain that help with thinking clearly and making good decisions. This can make it hard to tell what’s real and what’s not.
  • Causes sleep problems: Using cocaine can make it hard to sleep, leading to severe tiredness. Lack of sleep can also cause symptoms of psychosis.

When someone uses cocaine, especially in large amounts or for extended durations, these brain changes can make them lose touch with reality, leading to psychosis. Get help right away if you or someone you know is using cocaine and showing signs of psychosis.

Symptoms of Cocaine-Induced Psychosis

Cocaine-induced psychosis symptoms are like those of conditions like schizophrenia and bipolar. It can make someone seem like they’re having a psychotic episode or mental breakdown.

Cocaine psychosis symptoms include:

  • Paranoia: Feeling very suspicious of others and often leads to aggressive or violent behavior.
  • Hallucinations: Seeing, hearing, or feeling things that aren’t real, which can cause anxiety and paranoia.
  • Delusions: Believing things that aren’t true, such as thinking they are someone else or own things they do not.
  • Violent or aggressive behavior: Acting out in harmful ways toward others.
  • Anxiety: Feeling extremely nervous or worried.
  • Confusion: Being unsure about where they are or what is happening.
  • Erratic movements: Moving in a jittery or unpredictable way.
  • Disorganized speech and thoughts: Having trouble thinking clearly and speaking in a way that makes sense.
  • Delirium: Severe confusion and disorientation.
  • Suicidal or homicidal ideation: Thinking about or trying to hurt themselves or others.
woman rubbing eyes psychosis induced by cocaine

What to Do if Someone Is Experiencing Cocaine-Induced Psychosis

If someone is experiencing cocaine-induced psychosis, act quickly and safely. Here are the steps you can take:

Stay calm

Keep yourself calm so you can help the person effectively.

Call for help

Dial emergency services immediately. Professional help is needed to handle the situation safely.

Keep the person safe

Remove any dangerous objects from the area to prevent them from harming themselves or others.

Do not argue

Avoid arguing or trying to reason with them. They may not be able to understand or respond rationally.

Speak softly

Use a calm and gentle voice when talking to them. This can help prevent them from becoming more agitated.

Stay with them

Do not leave the person alone. Stay with them until medical professionals arrive.

Avoid physical contact

Do not touch the person unless it’s necessary to protect them from harm. Physical contact might make them more agitated.

Be reassuring

Let them know that help is on the way and that they will be okay.

Provide information

When help arrives, give them as much information as you can about the person’s drug use and behavior.

Helping someone with cocaine-induced psychosis can be challenging, but your calm and quick actions can make a big difference. Always prioritize safety and get professional help as soon as possible.

The first step for treating cocaine-induced psychosis is detox in a hospital or rehab facility that offers medical detox. The person needs to stop using cocaine so the psychosis can be treated. After detox, they can go to either inpatient or outpatient treatment, depending on how severe their addiction is. In both types of programs, they will likely have therapy and might be given medication for their psychosis.

The type of therapy they get depends on their:

  • Mental health condition
  • Overall health
  • Recovery goals
  • Risks to staying sober

Treatment providers can help with both the person’s cocaine addiction and their psychosis. Doctors might give medications to manage psychosis symptoms, such as:

  • Antipsychotics
  • Antidepressants
  • Anti-anxiety medications

However, some anti-anxiety medications like benzodiazepines might not be used because they can be very addictive. Follow the treatment plan to help manage both the addiction and the psychosis.

Cocaine-Induced Psychosis FAQs

How long does cocaine-induced psychosis last?

This form of psychosis can last from a few hours to several days, depending on the amount used and the person’s health.

How do I prevent cocaine-induced psychosis?

The best way to prevent cocaine-induced psychosis is to avoid using cocaine. For those who use the substance, limiting the amount and frequency can reduce the risk.

How is cocaine-induced psychosis treated?

Cocaine-induced psychosis is treated with medical supervision, often including medications to manage symptoms, therapy, and support to stop using cocaine.

ohio community center building representing psychosis after cocaine use

Get Treatment for Cocaine Addiction at Ohio Recovery Centers

Addiction is one of the many side effects of cocaine abuse. If you need help for yourself or a loved one, we offer various outpatient treatment programs for cocaine addiction at Ohio Recovery Centers.

Our medical detox program gives you access to medications and 24/7 care, making the cocaine withdrawal process safer and more comfortable. You will then be ready for ongoing treatment at our rehab in Cincinnati, OH.

All cocaine addictions are unique, so you will get personal treatment that may include medications, talk therapies, counseling, group therapy, and family therapy. You can also take part in holistic activities like meditation and yoga. Our treatment programs also have solid aftercare to help you stay sober.

Call our recovery specialists today at 877-679-2132.          

Table of Contents

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Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been working in the addiction industry for half a decade and has been writing about addiction and substance abuse treatment during that time. He has experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.
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Christopher Glover CDCA

My name is Christopher Glover, and I am from Cincinnati, Ohio. I am currently in school and working to grow in competence to better support our community. As a recovering individual I know the struggles that you or a loved one can go through and that there is help for anything you may be struggling with.

The hardest part is asking for help and we are here as a team to best support you and your decision to start your journey towards a better future. Connect with Chris on LinkedIn

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Amanda Kuchenberg PRS CDCA

I recently joined Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers as a Clinical Case Manager. I am originally from Wisconsin but settled in the Cincinnati area in my early 20s.  My career started in the fashion industry but quickly changed as I searched to find my drive and passion through helping others who struggle with addiction. 

As someone who is also in recovery, I wanted to provide hope, share lived experience, and support others on their journey.  I currently have my Peer Recovery Support Supervision Certification along with my CDCA and plan to continue my education with University of Cincinnati so I can continue to aid in the battle against substance addiction. Connect with Amanda on LinkedIn.

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Patrick McCamley LCDC III

 Patrick McCamley (Clinical Therapist) is a Cincinnati native who has worked in substance use disorder/co-occurring mental health disorder treatment since 2019. Patrick received his bachelors degree in psychology from University of Cincinnati in 2021 and received his LCDC III (Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor) license from the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board in 2022. Patrick has worked in Clinical Operations, Clinical Case Management, and Clinical Therapy throughout his career.

Patrick has tremendous empathy and compassion for the recovery community, being in recovery himself since 2018. Patrick is uniquely qualified to be helpful because of the specific combination of his academic background and his own experience in recovery.

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Bill Zimmerman CDCA

Bill Zimmerman is a Greater Cincinnati Area native who has worked in substance use disorder/co-occurring mental health disorder treatment since 2018. Bill received his (Chemical Dependency Counselor Assistant) license from the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board in 2020.

Bill has worked in Clinical Operations in both support and supervision, and Program facilitating and 12 step recovery support during his career. Bill has a passion for the recovery community, having been in recovery himself since 1982. Connect with Bill on LinkedIn

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Taylor Lilley CDCA, PRS

Growing up in Louisiana with addiction running rampant on both sides of my family. A life away from drugs and alcohol seemed impossible for someone like me. I remember what it was like sitting across from someone thinking there is no way they could ever understand what I was going through.

Sharing my experience offers a credibility and a certain type of trust with clients that only someone who has walked down this road can illustrate. To immerse myself further into the field of addiction, I am currently studying at Cincinnati State for Human and Social Services.  I hope I never forget where I came from, if I can do it, so can you!

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Thomas Hunter LSW

Hello my name is Thomas Hunter. I was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. I am a licensed social worker.In my scope of practice I have worked in the areas of mental health and recovery for thirty years. The clients I have worked with in my career have ranged in age from seven to seventy.

I strive each day to serve my purpose of helping those in need and I believe I do so by utilizing all of my experiences to accomplish my goal of supporting those who desire to establish their sobriety and maintain it in their recovery. Connect with Thomas on LinkedIn.

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Mary D.Porter,LICDC

 My name is Mary D. Porter. I received my Masters of Social Work in 2008 from The University of Cincinnati. I received My Licensed Independent Chemical Dependency Counselor Licensure in 2001. I retired from The Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Center on April 14, 2014. Currently, I am the Associate Clinical Director for The Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers in Cincinnati.. Due to the fourth wave of the Opioid Epidemic in 2019,  I decided to enter back into the workforce to assist the addicted population.

The overdoses were astounding and I wanted to help.  I consider myself  to be an advocate for the addicted population. My compassion, resilience, empathy, wisdom, knowledge, experience and  love I have for this forgotten population goes beyond words. I consider what I do for the addicted population as a calling versus a “career,” because I too was once an “addict and alcoholic.” Today I am 45.5 years alcohol and substance free.

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Ben Lemmon LCDC III

Hello, my name is Ben Lemmon, and I’m the Vice President and Clinical Director at Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers. I’ve been working in the addiction and mental health field since 2013 and decided to enter the field after overcoming my own challenges with addiction.

When I first meet a client, I always explain to them that the reason we are meeting is because they are not capable of obtaining or maintaining sobriety, and my goal is to create a person that can maintain sobriety. I believe a person’s personality is made up of their thoughts, feelings and actions and my job is to help clients identify the thoughts, feelings and actions that have them disconnected from recovery and provide them with the tools to live a healthy and happy life. Connect with Ben on LinkedIn