There are some instances in which a person may mistakenly take two substances at once – such as prescription medications with alcohol – but polysubstance abuse indicates the use of substances intentionally. Some people do this to get a more potent effect from using multiple substances.
When combined with others, some drugs can become more powerful or create more of a euphoric event. Doctors sometimes prescribe medications to help people manage the side effects. For example, using a depressant to control the anxiety that a stimulant drug dependency can cause. Mixing substances like this can lead to polysubstance dependence. It can also create a higher risk of overdose.
There are some drugs that are often abused together. Some common examples of polysubstance abuse include:
Mixing drugs increases the risk of complications and side effects. This can lead to acute health problems due to toxicity. It can also lead to complicated treatment because the medications used to treat one condition may not help others. Polysubstance use can also lead to co-occurring disorders, also called dual diagnosis. This describes a situation where a mental health disorder develops alongside a substance use disorder.
Polysubstance dependence occurs when the brain’s chemistry and communication with the body change to incorporate addictive substances. The body becomes dependent on the drugs in order for you to feel normal. You also feel intense withdrawal symptoms as your brain tries to encourage you to continue using them. It is possible to develop a polysubstance dependence on multiple drugs, a single drug and alcohol, or multiple drugs combined with alcohol.
If you feel withdrawal symptoms, that is an indication you have an addiction to a drug. This may include unexplained pain, muscle and bone aching, vomiting and diarrhea, headaches, as well as emotional symptoms, including agitation, mood swings, and fear. When you reach this level, seeking help from a professional polysubstance abuse treatment program is essential.
The difference between abuse and dependence depends on the severity of your symptoms and how they affect your life. Drug abuse is when you use drugs recreationally or in a way that is not intended. It may or may not include using larger amounts of the drug than intended, using more often than intended, or using despite negative consequences. Drug dependence is when you feel withdrawal symptoms when you try to quit and need to keep using in order to feel “normal.”
Polysubstance dependence may put you at risk for health complications and lead to sudden death due to overdose. It can also cause numerous complications from an addiction standpoint, such as failed relationships and struggling with success at work or school. It does not have to lead to this. Our polysubstance abuse treatment program is comprehensive, offering care designed to help you break your dependence for good.
If you are engaging in polysubstance abuse, recognize the benefits of stopping. Our professionals can help you overcome the cravings and withdrawal symptoms and put you on a better path toward healing. Take the first step in that process. Reach out to us to learn more about each of our treatment programs, including: