Why Do People Use Cocaine To Treat ADHD?

Why do people use cocaine to treat adhd?

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental mental disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. ADHD is characterized by a low attention span, high energy, and uncontrollable behavior, and occurs in about five to seven percent of children, with approximately half of those children diagnosed carrying their ADHD into their adult years.

As a stimulant, cocaine has a very unique effect on those affected by ADHD. To understand the effects of cocaine on someone with ADHD, it is important to understand what cocaine actually is, what it does to the brain, and how it interacts with the chronic mental disorder.


More commonly referred to as simply “coke,” cocaine is a potent, illicit stimulant generally used and abused recreationally. When consumed, cocaine blocks the recycling of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine in the brain. Through snorting, smoking, and even intravenous administration via injecting a solution into a vein, cocaine is one of the most dangerous and readily-available drugs that you can buy on the street.

Stimulants are extremely common and can come in multiple forms. From tablets to powder to capsules, consuming cocaine can lead to a short-lived feeling of happiness followed by intense cravings and withdrawals, urging the person to use again. Stimulants can be physically and psychologically addicting, and repeated use of stimulants (cocaine even more so) quickly leads to the building of a tolerance and ultimately an addiction.

Cocaine offers a short but intense high in which the user usually feels numb and energetic, causing them to engage in dangerous activities that would have previously seemed dangerous. Because it has such powerful effects, medical use for cocaine is legal in the United States, in the solution form.

ADHD and cocaine

It is not uncommon for an addict that seeks cocaine addiction treatment to also be diagnosed with ADHD. The impulsiveness and spontaneity associated with having ADHD make the risk of developing addiction much higher, as the user will sometimes not think about the drawbacks. A Brazilian team of researchers studied the connection between ADHD and cocaine addiction; surprisingly, there was little to no correlation to ADHD and addiction/dependency.

While there is no direct difference in drug addiction among those that do and do not have ADHD, it was noted that:

  • Those diagnosed with ADHD begin to use cocaine and similar drugs at a much younger age than those who do not have ADHD.
  • Those diagnosed with ADHD begin seeking cocaine addiction treatment sooner than those who do not have ADHD.
  • Those diagnosed with ADHD that starting smoking cannabis and using cannabis-related products at a young age resulted in much more severe cocaine abuse problems later on.

Cocaine is a stimulant that produces effects similar to the stimulants usually prescribed to treat ADHD. Using cocaine causes a surge in dopamine, making up for the lack of dopamine in an ADHD-diagnosed user. Think of cocaine use for ADHD as producing the exact opposite effects of cocaine use in someone who doesn’t have ADHD. Whereas someone using cocaine that does not have ADHD will more than likely experience that classic “rush” and high energy, a user with ADHD will most likely give off signs of sedation. Blank stares, calmness, and daydreaming are common in cocaine users with ADHD, but the calmness does come with adverse effects.

Users of cocaine with ADHD will be relatively more irritable and become agitated quickly. This is due to the fact that, and I can personally vouch for this, the effects of ADHD medications, stimulants, in particular, are non-euphoric and are generally unpleasant. As someone who was prescribed Ritalin as a treatment for my ADHD, I can tell you firsthand that most of the effects associated with stimulants to treat ADHD are unpleasant and may often make the user experience depersonalization and a lack of motivation.

Should cocaine be considered?

The short answer is: no.

Cocaine, while it may offer a short-term way to negate the effects of ADHD, cocaine use is dangerous, and cocaine for ADHD should never be considered. If someone with ADHD is to engage in cocaine use as an attempt to “treat” their disorder, they put themselves at an extremely high risk to develop an addiction. Prescribed stimulant medications such as brands of methylphenidate and amphetamine are much safer, legal ways to curb the effects that ADHD may have on your life.

If you or someone you know suffers from cocaine addiction, it is extremely important to seek professional treatment immediately, especially in the dual diagnosis of ADHD and cocaine addiction. As more time passes that you do not seek treatment, the risk of overdose and even death exponentially increases. That’s why Arete Recovery is here to help. We offer a kindhearted staff of professional doctors, nurses, therapists, and case managers to ensure that recovery is done the right way. Call us today at (855) 781-9939 or contact us online to start taking back your sober life.

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