Are You Struggling with Polysubstance Abuse?

August 10, 2020

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Polysubstance Abuse

Are you struggling with alcohol or drug abuse? If so, do you only have one substance of abuse or are there more? It is possible that, in fact, you may be struggling with polysubstance abuse. This is a phrase that more and more physicians and counselors are becoming familiar with. You see, in cases of polysubstance abuse, many times the individual is more interested in the mood-altering effects of being “high” than the actual addiction to one specific substance.

What is the Definition of Polysubstance Abuse?

A person can be diagnosed with polysubstance abuse even if they are not physically addicted to any one particular substance. Most physicians see polysubstance abuse as when a person is abusing at least three different substances. However, some others say it can only involve two different substances. In the majority of these cases, the patient uses alcohol along with other drugs, either opioids or stimulants. Sometimes benzodiazepines are included in the mix of drugs.

It should be noted that polysubstance abuse or addiction is not the same as multiple addictions. For instance, a person may be physically addicted to three different substances. They might suffer withdrawal symptoms if they do not use these drugs on a regular basis. Then, another person may be, as stated previously, more addicted to the effects they feel from being high, no matter which substances they use to achieve this high.

The Dangers of Mixing Different Substances

While combining different substances is a common practice among substance abusers, it is a very dangerous practice. Individuals who combine different substances feel that this increases the effects of each substance. No matter if it does increase the “high” you may experience, it can also take your life. For instance, mixing stimulants such as cocaine and Adderall can increase your risks for a heart attack. Stimulants increase heart rate as well as blood pressure. As everyone knows, high blood pressure increases your risk of stroke. You can possibly be left in a coma or worse from a fatal overdose.

Combining central nervous system (CNS) depressants such as benzodiazepines and opioids is a practice that can quickly take your life.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH):

More than 30 percent of overdoses involving opioids also involve benzodiazepines.
Benzodiazepines and opioids, both, sedate individuals as well as impairing their cognitive function. Mixing these two drugs can cause a person’s respiration to stop and result in a fatal overdose. In many cases of fatal opioid overdoses, benzodiazepines are also found in the system.

Polysubstance Abuse Involving Alcohol

Alcohol is a CNS depressant drug. Other CNS (central nervous system) depressant drugs include:

  • Opioid pain relievers
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Muscle Relaxants
  • Sedatives
  • Barbiturates
  • Hypnotics

Mixing alcohol with any of the other CNS depressants can be very dangerous. Combining any of these drugs enhances the effects of each drug. Therefore, there is an increased chance for an overdose of each drug that a person consumes.

Stimulants speed up CNS functions. As a result, when using stimulants along with alcohol the user doesn’t feel the effects as much as if they were using either substance alone. Hence, you can easily overdose on either substance that you are abusing. In addition to the fatal effects of using stimulants and depressants, you can experience hallucinations and seizures.

Seek Help if you are Struggling with Substance Abuse

If you are struggling with polysubstance abuse or addiction to any substance, seek help from a reputable addiction treatment center. Contact New Beginnings to learn about specific treatment programs that will benefit you and your individual needs. One of our representatives can answer any questions you may have about our facility and all of the different treatment programs that we offer.


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