What Is Polysubstance Abuse?

Polysubstance abuse is a complex and often misunderstood condition. This condition, also known as Polysubstance Disorder, is a term used to describe the use of multiple substances, such as drugs or alcohol, simultaneously or in sequence. 

Polysubstance abuse can have serious physical and mental health consequences, but it’s not always easy to spot. In today’s blog post, we will delve deeper into what polysubstance abuse is all about, explore its different types and causes, and, most importantly, provide you with some valuable information on how to treat it effectively and get the help you need. 

What Is Polysubstance Abuse and How Does It Affect The Body and Brain?

Polysubstance abuse is a type of substance abuse that involves the use of multiple drugs simultaneously or in rapid succession. This means using more than one drug simultaneously, such as alcohol and cocaine, or switching between drugs over a short period.

Combining different substances can lead to unpredictable effects on the body and brain. For example, combining opioids with benzodiazepines can increase the risk of respiratory depression and overdose. Mixing stimulants and depressants puts the body under stress and can increase the risk of heart attack and other pulmonary disorders.  

Polysubstance abuse is often associated with high-risk behavior such as driving under the influence, engaging in unprotected sex, committing crimes or getting into fights. It can also lead to physical health problems like liver damage, heart disease, seizures and mental health issues such as anxiety disorders or depression.

What makes polysubstance disorder particularly dangerous is that it can be difficult for healthcare providers to identify all the substances involved when trying to diagnose and treat an individual with addiction.

It’s important for anyone struggling with polysubstance abuse to seek professional help immediately. Effective treatment typically includes a combination of therapy, medication-assisted treatment, behavioral therapies, support groups and aftercare planning tailored to each individual’s needs.

The Different Types Of Polysubstance Disorder

Polysubstance abuse can be challenging to diagnose and treat due to its varied nature, but understanding the different types can help in identifying and addressing this problem.

One type of polysubstance disorder is mixing prescription drugs with alcohol or other illicit drugs. This often occurs when individuals have been prescribed medications for pain management or mental health disorders and then turn to alcohol or other substances to self-medicate.

Another type combines stimulants like cocaine or amphetamines with opioids like heroin or prescription painkillers. This combination can increase the risk of overdose and lead to severe health complications such as respiratory depression.

Additionally, some individuals may engage in polydrug use by alternating between different substances depending on availability, preference, or desired effects. For example, they might switch between using marijuana one day and cocaine another day.

It’s essential to recognize that polydrug use takes many forms and requires an individualized approach to treatment. It’s crucial for healthcare professionals to understand these nuances to provide effective care for those struggling with addiction.

What Causes Polysubstance Abuse?

Polysubstance disorders may have various underlying causes and generally track with the causes of addiction, such as family history and social causes. People turn to using multiple substances for a variety of reasons. It could be due to social pressure, peer influence, a family history of addiction, or mental health problems.

Some individuals may start with one substance and gradually add more over time as they develop tolerance and dependence. Others may use different drugs simultaneously to experience a certain high or effect that cannot be achieved by using just one drug alone.

Furthermore, polydrug abuse can also result from self-medication attempts for physical or emotional pain relief. People who suffer from anxiety disorders or depression may resort to taking multiple substances to cope with their symptoms.

Environmental factors such as the availability of substances and exposure within the community can contribute to polysubstance abuse. Genetic predisposition plays a significant role in the development of addiction among some individuals as well.

There isn’t one single cause for polysubstance abuse but rather many contributing factors that make up a web of addiction which must be considered when addressing this complex issue.

How To Treat Polysubstance Abuse

Treating polysubstance abuse can be a challenging process, but it is possible with the right approach. The first step in treating this type of addiction is to undergo a comprehensive assessment to determine the extent of the problem and any underlying mental health issues.

Once an accurate diagnosis has been made, treatment likely involves a combination of detoxification, medication management, therapy, and support groups. Detoxification may be necessary to safely remove all substances from the body while managing withdrawal symptoms.

Medication management may be used to address specific substance cravings or underlying mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression. Therapy can help individuals identify triggers for substance use and develop coping strategies for dealing with them, as well as understanding the underlying factors contributing to their addiction. 

Support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous can provide ongoing support and accountability during recovery. With commitment and dedication to treatment, individuals struggling with polysubstance abuse can achieve long-term sobriety and improve their overall quality of life.

Need Help With Polysubstance Abuse? We’re Here For You

Polysubstance abuse is a serious issue that affects many people and is dangerous. It can be challenging to overcome, but seeking professional help and support from loved ones can greatly increase the chances of recovery. Remember that addiction is a disease, and there should be no shame in asking for help.
If you or someone you know may be struggling with polysubstance abuse, seeking treatment as soon as possible is important. With the right resources and support system, it’s possible to break free from addiction and start living a healthy and fulfilling life. Call us at (844) 973-2611, and we can get you the appropriate diagnosis and treatment you or your family member needs.