If you know someone recovering from substance abuse, that could lead you to wonder what polysubstance abuse is. This reality is particularly true if you know someone suffering from addiction to more than one substance. If you know someone with this issue, now is the time to learn about polysubstance abuse, its effects, and why it is critical to learn about substance abuse treatment options.
What Is Polysubstance Abuse?
When someone receives a polysubstance abuse diagnosis, that means they normally try to achieve a high regardless of the substances they are using. That could mean they do not prefer a specific substance as long as they achieve that feeling. When you are trying to learn more about what polysubstance abuse is, the definition means someone who is using at least two or three substances. That could mean any combination of drugs and alcohol, including the following examples:
Signs of Polysubstance Dependence
While addiction to a drug or alcohol is concerning, polysubstance abuse causes its own set of issues. Knowing the signs of polysubstance use can save someone’s life. For example, if someone is consistently showing at least three of the following symptoms, that could lead to an official polysubstance dependence diagnosis:
- No matter how much harm the substances are causing to their health or personal lives, they continue using.
- Users might withdraw from participating in social activities, or their work could be suffering.
- They might plan to use a specific amount of a substance, but wind up using more instead. They might also attempt to stop but are unable to do so.
- A significant amount of time could be spent by the user trying to obtain substances, being under the influence of them, or recovering from their effects.
- Because their usual dose is no longer effective, users must increase it to achieve the high they desire.
- When they stop using drugs, they begin showing withdrawal symptoms.
Why Some Are at a Higher Risk
Those who are dependent upon or addicted to alcohol are at a higher risk for polysubstance abuse. However, there are also instances where others develop a dependence accidentally. For example, if they drink occasionally and use medications for anxiety, depression, or pain, that could result in polysubstance abuse.
Why Polysubstance Abuse Happens
After determining the symptoms of dependence, the next thing to learn about polysubstance abuse involves figuring out why it happens. One of the underlying reasons this type of abuse happens is because, after someone builds up a tolerance, they move on to another substance to achieve the same euphoria. Moving on could mean stopping one substance in favor of another or, in the case of polysubstance abuse, using several.
These factors become a reality when a user is trying to reach their desired high, but it is not possible when using one substance. So, they continuously add more substances until they achieve the desired feeling. Typically, this happens because they need multiple substances to achieve the “high” they received when using one. For example, when someone is using prescription drugs and alcohol at the same time, that could enhance the effects of the medication.
Others use more than one substance because they are trying to off-set the effects of one or more of them. For example, when someone is coming down from an amphetamine or cocaine high, they might use anxiety medications or sedatives to off-set the effects.
Polysubstance abuse is extremely dangerous. Combining different substances can amplify and create different side effects. If you or a loved one abuses multiple substances, Renaissance Recovery provides many rehab programs. These include:
- Alcohol addiction treatment
- Heroin addiction treatment
- Medication-assisted treatment
- Intensive outpatient rehab
- Men’s rehab
- Women’s rehab