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What Is Polysubstance Abuse?

What Is Polysubstance Abuse?

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction to more than one substance at the same time, like using alcohol and cocaine, they are likely facing polysubstance abuse. There are many reasons why a person may turn to drugs and alcohol, but no matter how dark the world seems right now, there is help available. Contact the medical professionals at Greater Boston Addiction Centers online or call 877.920.6583 today to learn how polysubstance abuse treatment can put you on the path toward recovery.

What is Polysubstance Abuse?

Simply put, polysubstance abuse is when you take more than one drug at a time. Typically, people battling this condition use multiple drugs and alcohol to get higher than possible with just a single substance. The user will have a preferred drug that they combine with at least one more substance to enhance the primary drug’s impact.

For example, individuals who abuse opioids like heroin or prescription painkillers may mix them with benzos to achieve an extremely intense feeling of relaxation. Just as the combination of drugs will increase the high, the abuse increases the danger of drug use. People with a polysubstance abuse disorder are at a greater risk of the adverse effects of the drugs being consumed.

Taking a variety of drugs at the same time can cause unpredictable consequences. Polysubstance abuse makes it difficult to comprehend the severe consequences of addiction and causes people to make tragic decisions while using drugs.

What Defines a Polysubstance Abuse Disorder?

Individuals diagnosed with polysubstance abuse disorder are not always addicted to a particular drug or set of drugs. Instead, they are addicted to the feeling of “being high” and will use whatever illicit substances they can acquire to achieve this altered state of mind.

Typically, a polysubstance abuse disorder is defined as an individual using at least three different substances; although, some medical professionals define this condition as the use of two substances simultaneously. It does not matter what substances are being used. Any addictive substance can be a part of polysubstance abuse. Alcohol is the most common substance to be a part of this condition. Some of the other drugs that are commonly used in polysubstance abuse include:

  • Marijuana
  • Opiates
  • Amphetamines
  • Hallucinogens
  • Benzos
  • Inhalants
  • Prescription painkillers

While most polysubstance abuse includes mixing illegal drugs and alcohol, prescription medications can also be involved. These are habit-forming medicines prescribed for legitimate medical purposes that have unfortunately led to abuse or recreational use.

Diagnosing Polysubstance Abuse

To be diagnosed with a polysubstance abuse disorder, you must meet specific criteria. First, you must be using at least three different substances at once, but not all addictive substances count. For example, nicotine and caffeine, while addictive, are not considered as part of this condition.

Second, to be diagnosed with a polysubstance abuse disorder, you will have exhibited a minimum of three of the following symptoms within the last 12 months:

  • You are losing control, using drugs more often than planned
  • Inability or unwillingness to quit using drugs
  • You have developed a higher tolerance, requiring higher dosages to achieve the same effect
  • Withdrawal symptoms occur when you are not high
  • Disengaging with your hobbies, passions, social life, and interests
  • Your time is consumed with buying and using drugs
  • You are aware of the harm you are causing yourself, but this knowledge isn’t enough for you to stop

Having multiple addictions is not at all the same as having a polysubstance abuse disorder. However, it means you are addicted to the effects of drugs, with the particular drugs being used not as important as the high they can deliver.

Learn More at Greater Boston Addiction Centers

If you recognize the signs of polysubstance abuse, do not wait to seek professional help. Call Greater Boston Addiction Centers at 877.920.6583 or use our secure online form to learn more about our polysubstance abuse treatment.

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