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Can Teens Get Cocaine Psychosis?

Depiction of a teen girl experiencing psychosis  

There are extreme dangers linked to cocaine misuse, including cocaine psychosis. While psychosis in childhood and adolescence is rare, it is possible. Parents and anyone considering cocaine use should know the risks associated with this condition.

What Is Cocaine Psychosis?

Cocaine-induced psychosis is a psychotic episode caused by the use of cocaine or other stimulant drugs. In regard to mental health, psychosis is a state where a person is detached from reality.

People experiencing psychosis cannot think clearly or make rational decisions. For example, teens on cocaine might believe outlandish stories, think that they have unstoppable abilities or feel as though others are threatening their health.

A psychotic episode can exist as part of a mental health condition like schizophrenia. However, it can also result from substance use. Teens who use cocaine should be aware of cocaine psychosis and its consequences.

How Does Cocaine Use in Teens Cause Psychosis?

Cocaine use disrupts standard brain chemistry by triggering the release of various brain chemicals. These chemicals reward the teen’s cocaine use and encourage it to continue. However, the resulting imbalance can trigger cocaine psychosis.

Teens commonly misuse stimulants like cocaine, crack cocaine, crystal meth and prescription medications for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in a “binge and crash” pattern. This routine involves using large amounts of the drug for hours or days until the drug is depleted.

Signs and Symptoms of Cocaine Psychosis in Teenagers

It is important to distinguish the signs and symptoms of psychosis in teenagers from the other mental and physical symptoms caused by cocaine. General cocaine misuse signs may include:

  • Euphoria
  • High energy and alertness
  • Excessive talking
  • Sensitivity to sound, light and touch
  • High body temperature
  • Increased blood pressure and heart rate
  • Restlessness
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability

These cocaine abuse symptoms can occur with or without cocaine psychosis symptoms. Signs of psychosis in teenagers include:

  • Paranoia and suspiciousness: The first symptoms of a cocaine-induced psychosis are unusual paranoia and suspiciousness. With these symptoms, a person may worry that others are out to hurt them or interrupt their goals. This suspicion may grow into a powerful paranoia that causes the person to fear for their safety. For instance, a teen might think the teachers at school are conspiring against them.
  • Delusions: When a person becomes delusional, they have thoughts and beliefs that are not grounded in reality. Delusions can manifest as extreme paranoia, but they can also cause unrealistic confidence. For example, a teen may believe they are extraordinarily fast on the high school football field or mentally gifted enough to ace the SATs.
  • Hallucinations: Hallucinations occur when a person perceives inaccurate information from their senses. They may note seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling or tasting things that are not present. For instance, a teen may falsely believe someone is speaking behind them in class.

Teens can display only one mild symptom of psychosis or several at high intensity.

Cocaine Psychosis Effects

Cocaine psychosis effects are potentially devastating to both teens and adults, as well as the people around them. In the most severe situations, youth psychosis can lead to injury, violence and death.

When combined, paranoia, delusional thinking and hallucinations can cause erratic and dangerous behaviors. For example, teens may believe they have superhuman abilities to run fast or jump far distances. As a result, they may injure themselves while jumping from rooftops or running in front of a car.

If a teen’s paranoia is directed at a certain person or a specific group, they could react with violence. For instance, a paranoid and delusional teen might believe their significant other is cheating on them and react violently.

Under some circumstances, the violence and resulting injuries could lead to death. A teenager experiencing cocaine psychosis effects could be very dangerous, especially if they have access to guns or other weapons. In these cases, they might kill themselves or someone who is the subject of their delusional thinking.

Youth psychosis should not be taken lightly. Anyone interacting with a person under the influence of cocaine should be cautious. The substance makes people unpredictable and impulsive, which endangers everyone involved.

Treatment for Teenage Cocaine Addiction and Psychosis

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens, nearly 4% of high school seniors have used cocaine within their lifetime. With as many as 50% of cocaine users reporting psychotic symptoms, cocaine use and psychosis are more common than people think.

Teen addiction treatment is critical for teens who are addicted to cocaine.  At the beginning of treatment, the addiction rehab facility or mental health treatment center must take care to accurately identify the source of the psychotic symptoms.

A person with cocaine psychosis may require hospitalization to reduce the risk of violence or injury. Professional staff will work to calm and manage the symptoms. In some situations, they may use medications to sedate the patient.

Once the symptoms of psychosis are well-managed, the patient’s care focuses on understanding the role of the addiction and establishing recovery. These treatments can occur in inpatient, residential and outpatient settings, depending on the person’s needs, stressors and supports.

Teens or parents of teens seeking treatment for cocaine addiction should consider Next Generation Village. Our teen-focused programs can help you recover from substance use disorders as well as co-occurring mental health conditions. Contact us today to speak with a representative and learn more about treatment plans that can work well for you.

Medical Disclaimer: Next Generation Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.


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