Polysubstance abuse is common among various individuals within and outside the United States. The significant purpose of this abuse is to alter the effects of multiple drugs. It may involve the combination of various substances, including heroin, cocaine, and cough syrups.
The dangers of the condition are evident, especially among young adults. According to the Journal Polished in the National Library of Medicine,1 the increase in individuals admitted to residential programs for the condition suggests a need to pay attention to psychiatric and physical rehabilitation.
Polysubstance abuse, also called polydrug abuse, occurs when an individual uses multiple drugs and develops polysubstance dependence. It is a term that generally describes the consumption of more than one substance at a time. According to the DSM-5 criteria, polydrug abuse also falls under the umbrella of a substance abuse challenge.
An individual experiencing polydrug abuse may combine one or more prescription drugs, street drugs, or both to modify the effects of each drug. Alcohol is highly common in polydrug abuse.
Most individuals with the condition typically combine various substances, including prescription medications with alcohol as a primary inclusion. Consistent intake of these substances at once may result in polysubstance dependence and adverse side effects.
Various substances are used in polydrug abuse. Major examples include opioids like heroin or prescription pain medications alongside benzodiazepines for greater sedative effects. Other substances that individuals may use for polydrug abuse also include psychedelics and alcohol.
Various dangers may occur due to polydrug abuse, depending on the specific drug combination. In most cases, it results in acute health problems like reduced metabolism and increased blood concentration of the substance. Individuals who abuse multiple substances at once may experience various chronic conditions like hepatitis C or myocardial infarction.
The combination of multiple drugs may also result in polysubstance dependence and increased severity of side effects. Note that the effects may be synonymous with that of each drug combined. Some of the significant side effects of the abuse or addiction include vomiting, body pain, balance problems, nausea, and change in heart rate.
A high percentage of individuals combine alcohol with various drug types, including prescription or illicit drugs, to reach a “stronger” high. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the simultaneous use of alcohol and prescription medications may cause alcohol poisoning, blackouts, and loss of life. Alcohol gets mixed with prescription opiates like the extended-release form of oxycodone.
Apart from the combination of alcohol with opiates, it gets combined with stimulants and anti-anxiety drugs. Mixing alcohol and any substance may result in negative drug interactions that affect the individual’s overall health due to polysubstance dependence. Here are other common combinations to note:
Cocaine and alcohol are common mixtures among certain individuals. When an individual who takes in cocaine drinks alcohol, it may significantly increase cocaine in the body system. The combination of alcohol and cocaine may result in the production of cocaethylene, which is a psychoactive metabolite.
Cocaethylene stays in the body for a long period and may cause increased blood pressure, which results in cardiovascular challenges. Individuals also tend to drink more alcohol because cocaine tends to reduce its effects on the body. Both cocaine and alcohol tend to mask their effects, which may result in overdose and potential complications.
Experts also refer to psychedelics as hallucinogens. These drugs are responsible for causing a change in mood, perception, or overall cognitive processes. High intake or addiction to psychedelics and other substances may result in polysubstance dependence, causing hallucination and other side effects.
Individuals may experience polysubstance abuse disorder due to a wide range of causes. The contributing factors may be biological, psychological, and socio-cultural. For better comprehension, here is a breakdown of each potential cause of polydrug abuse:
Signs of polydrug abuse are usually severe when left without treatment. Most of the signs are visible and may require immediate medical attention. Here are the significant ones to note:
When comorbidity occurs, it signifies that an individual may be experiencing two or more mental health conditions. For example, an individual experiencing polysubstance abuse disorder may also have other mental health challenges. For better comprehension, here is more detail about the comorbidity of mental disorders based on two common conditions:
There are essential treatment programs that a licensed mental health professional may undergo for proper treatment of polydrug abuse. Most of these treatment procedures are also applied in treating various substance use disorders. Here are the significant treatments to polysubstance abuse disorder:
Polysubstance abuse typically occurs both in young and older adults. It may result in various severe medical conditions. It’s imperative to consult a medical doctor for immediate support, especially during withdrawal.
If you or a loved one needs help, please call us at
623-523-4748 and our team at Blueprints For Recovery in Arizona will help.