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Article Summary

Is There a Connection Between Cocaine and Depression?

Cocaine is a highly addictive substance that is formed from the leaves of coca plants, which is where the name derived. Depending on the form of cocaine, it can be used by smoking it, injecting into the body, or snorting it through the nose. Despite being illegal in most countries around the world, cocaine addiction is on the rise. Medical professionals are continuously developing new treatment plans to help those addicted to cocaine effectively overcome their addictions, and live a life that is not dependent on cocaine or other forms of illegal drugs. One issue that has gained a lot of attention is the connection between depression and cocaine. Studies have showed that depending on the addict, depression may either be a cause of cocaine use or a consequence of using cocaine.

Cocaine Used as a Coping Mechanism

People who struggle with depression are susceptible to feelings of helplessness and loneliness, as well as, loss of energy and low self-esteem. These characteristics are often what draws people with depression to use cocaine. This is because cocaine works as a stimulant that can create an euphoric state that includes increased energy and heightened alertness. While in the "high" state that comes after using cocaine, otherwise depressed people become extroverted and extremely talkative. This state also causes them to forget about their issues in their lives that may be causing the depression. In cases like this cocaine is used as a coping mechanism to help ease the effects of depression. However, once the "high" wears off, the person again reverts back to their depressive state, which typically leads to more cocaine use.

Cocaine as a Consequence of Addiction

For some people, depression occurs as a consequence of the cocaine addiction. This means that the person developed depression due to their addiction habit. Cocaine works as a stimulant and pushes a person into an euphoric state of mind shortly after using it. This "high," as it is generally referred to, only last about 10 to 20 minutes, at which point some people observe a dramatic shift in their mood. With a cocaine addiction, these dramatic mood shifts are happening on a regular basis, and cause some people to go into a state of depression. Unfortunately, this also leads the person to use cocaine as a way of escaping this depressive state, even if it is only for a short period of time.

A recent study conducted by the University of Michigan and the Ann Arbor Veterans Affairs Medical Center shows a possible disturbing link between depression and cocaine. The study revealed that prolong use of cocaine may lead to a reduction in dopamine levels in the brain. This is important because dopamine is a chemical, found in brain cells, that help create feelings of pleasure in a person. When this level is reduced, it becomes difficult for the person to experience positive feelings or pleasure. The study was inconclusive as to whether this reduction in dopamine levels was a permanent change, or if the effects could be reverse.

Effective Treatment for Dual Diagnosis

Most experts agree that to treat a person with a cocaine addiction, who also struggles with depression, both disorders must be treated simultaneously. In the past, many rehabilitation centers would only treat the addiction, and tell the patient that they would need to seek treatment for their depression afterwards. Fortunately today, many rehabilitation centers are equipped to treat people with a dual diagnosis. This is good news because if a person can be treated for both depression and cocaine addiction at the same time, their chance for recovery of both significantly increases. There are also many outpatient programs and counselors that are able to diagnosis both disorders, and treat them simultaneously.

Whether depression is a cause of cocaine use or a consequence, it is clear that there is a direct link between the two issues. The good news is that a lot of research is being done on the subject and treatment centers and well as counselors are better educated today to handle these dual diagnosis cases. If you or a loved on struggles with depression and cocaine addiction, seek out help immediately You first want to be sure to get an accurate diagnosis from a trained profession. Then look for a treatment facility or counselor that is equipped to handle both the depression and the cocaine addiction simultaneously.

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