Blog

polysubstance abuse
July 27, 2020

The Unique Risks of Polysubstance Abuse

While abuse of any drug will adversely affect multiple aspects of your life over time, polysubstance abuse is even more dangerous. This term refers to the consumption of more than one drug at the same time.

Sometimes, this happens accidentally, such as when someone doesn’t thoroughly read the instructions that came with their prescription medication and fails to realize it doesn’t mix with alcohol. Other users may intentionally combine substances in pursuit of a more powerful high. For example, those who regularly abuse opioids such as heroin or prescription painkillers may sometimes take them with benzodiazepines to experience even greater relaxation or sedative effects.

Why Is Polysubstance Abuse Dangerous?

While combining specific drugs can enhance the effects, polysubstance abuse is highly risky because of the unpredictable results. Those who drink alcohol while using specific medications often have trouble judging their level of impairment and intoxication, with potentially lethal consequences.

All drugs carry the possibility of dangerous side effects, but using two or more substances at the same time can magnify their severity. Combining drugs can have an additive effect, which multiplies the results of the substances. It can also be synergistic, which is the term for what happens when one drug makes the other one more potent. 

The combined effects of polysubstance abuse increase the chances of the following. 

  • Impaired judgment
  • Blackouts
  • More severe hangovers
  • Risky behavior, such as driving under the influence 
  • Loss of coordination leading to accidents and injuries
  • Problems in your interpersonal relationships
  • Addiction
  • Mental health disorders like depression
  • Acute health problems such as liver disease and chronic stress
  • Accidental overdose

The Perils of Drug Overdose

While it’s possible to take too much of any drug, polysubstance abuse heightens the risk of an accidental overdose. Since some substances mask the effects of others, you may inadvertently take more than usual because you don’t feel as high as you’d like to be. A polysubstance overdose can also be more difficult to treat. For instance, while administering naloxone can reverse an opioid overdose, it might not be as effective if there are other drugs in your system at the same time. 

How to Get Help for a Polysubstance Addiction

Having more than one substance of use carries a higher potential for addiction. As drug abuse leads to ever-higher tolerances, the habit eventually becomes less about seeking pleasurable sensations and more about needing to use the substances to feel “normal.” 

Because repeated drug use and abuse changes the reward pathways in the brain, quitting drugs without help can be a nearly insurmountable challenge – no matter how motivated you might be to change your life for the better. Depending on how long you have been abusing drugs, the severity of your withdrawal symptoms can also lead you back to your substances of use to avoid these painful and dangerous side effects. 

Polysubstance addiction presents a unique set of challenges and requires more specialized treatment to achieve full recovery. However, if you choose the right inpatient rehab program, it is possible to break free of your problems with polysubstance abuse and go on to live a healthy and fulfilling life. 

Discover the Beach House Difference

Beach House has created the ideal environment in which to pursue addiction recovery. Our quiet enclave in the small community of Juno Beach sits on miles of oceanfront reserve, allowing you to begin reclaiming your health and wellness amid tranquil, resort-like surroundings. 

We’ve worked hard to create and maintain a nurturing culture that combines compassion with clinical excellence, providing an ideal setting for healing. And, thanks to our industry-leading 7-to-1 client-to-therapist ratio, you can get the personalized attention you need to get to the root of your addictive behaviors and start following your path to lifelong sobriety. 

If you are living with a polysubstance addiction, there is hope. It takes a lot of courage to admit you have a problem you can’t solve on your own, but committing to an evidence-based rehab program is the first step. As with other chronic diseases, it is possible to learn to manage an addiction and live without the crutch of substance abuse. It’s never too late to make a fresh start by contacting us today

close