A few years ago, Madeleine (real name omitted) lost her father. Her father died of cancer, and she spun into uncontrollable grief. She told Vice that she then resorted to taking cocaine that she had left over from a party on New Year’s Eve. Little by little, she used it to get her through the day and past the death of her father. She stated that cocaine was the only thing that gave her the energy she needed to cope with day to day life, including supporting her grieving mother and making the funeral arrangements for her father.

No doctor would condone cocaine use as a form of self medication, but the fact that it helped her through her loss came as no surprise to Dr. Matthew Johnson.

Studies show that modern antidepressants don’t have an instantaneous effect, whereas cocaine does. This makes antidepressants much less addictive when compared, however the two work in similar ways in terms of brain activity. They balance the monoamine neurotransmitters, which are thought to be the cause of depression itself.

Cocaine is also very similar to another substance, Ritalin. The two both block the same neurotransmitters in the brain and the two are indistinguishable under blind conditions. Ritalin however is often prescribed to those who suffer from ADHD as well as depression. Dopaminergic stimulants are favourable when compared to antidepressants because they offer an instantaneous effect, whereas antidepressants can take weeks or even months to start working.

Dr. Johnson goes on to say that scientifically, the idea behind someone using cocaine as an antidepressant isn’t a crazy idea, and there is plenty of research out there that shows that other related drugs fall under the same category.

Although he isn’t suggesting that you should go out and snort cocaine, there is scientific evidence that states it can be helpful even though it is unapproved by medical professionals.