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Polysubstance Abuse Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment - Mandala Healing

Living with an addiction to drugs and alcohol can lead to devastating consequences. Your physical wellbeing, emotional health, relationships, and ability to function in your daily life can suffer when addiction takes hold. Over time, the chances that you will suffer a life-threatening issue related to your substance abuse increase. 

Comprehensive addiction treatment can give you the medical, mental health, and practical support you need to overcome your addiction and learn to live a healthy, sober lifestyle. But what about if you live with polysubstance abuse?

Polysubstance abuse, also known as polydrug use, occurs when a person uses more than one substance. It is possible to become addicted to two or more substances. Developing an addiction to multiple drugs means treatment may be more challenging or complicated. However, getting treatment is the best way to leave addiction in the past and embrace the fulfilling lifestyle you choose. 

We will explore polydrug abuse, including how it develops, its risks, and how to find effective polysubstance abuse treatment. If you or a loved one requires substance abuse treatment, reach out to the caring specialists at the mandala Healing Center today. 

Understanding Polydrug Abuse

Polysubstance abuse occurs when a person abuses more than one substance. Often, a person will have a preferred substance and may use other drugs or alcohol to enhance its desirable effects. 

While combining substances may enhance the drugs’ effects, it can also lead to severe risks to your short and long-term health. The adverse side effects of each drug can also be amplified. In the short-term, many people may experience a range of unpleasant symptoms, including:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle pain 
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of coordination

Polydrug abuse is different from accidentally mixing substances. For example, someone who drinks alcohol while taking a prescription antidepressant would not necessarily be engaging in polysubstance abuse, but someone who deliberately drinks alcohol while taking a benzodiazepine with the intention of enhancing the intoxicating effects is.

The Dangers of Polysubstance Abuse

Mixing substances can be hazardous. In addition to the short-term side effects people commonly experience, polydrug abuse can sometimes lead to more severe harm to your health. People who mix multiple drugs may also experience immediate, life-threatening health emergencies, including:

  • Depressed (slow or shallow) breathing
  • Changes in heart rate
  • Changes in blood pressure

Many drugs can interact in dangerous ways. In some cases, combining multiple substances can cause changes to your metabolism that can result in a higher concentration of drugs in your system. This can cause serious harm. It may also be life-threatening. 

People with polysubstance abuse can face the risk of long-term health issues. Certain combinations of substances are known to raise people’s risk of developing serious health problems. For example:

People who are addicted to multiple drugs and who have mental illness may experience a worsening of both conditions. The mental illness may prevent them from participating in treatment, and the substance abuse may worsen the symptoms of the mental illness. It is essential that people with a dual diagnosis of polysubstance abuse and a mental illness receive comprehensive treatment for both conditions. 

The Risk of Polydrug Overdose

Abusing multiple drugs increases a person’s risk of overdose. In some instances, certain substances will mask the effects of other drugs. People who abuse substances may use more of a substance to get the desired effect without realizing they have taken a dangerous amount of the drug. This puts people with polysubstance abuse at a higher risk of an overdose than others who abuse a single drug.

Naloxone can be used to reverse an opioid overdose, but it is not effective in treating an overdose of other substances. 

Do I Need Treatment for Polysubstance Abuse?

Being addicted to multiple drugs can be dangerous to your mental and physical health. It can affect your relationships, increase your risk of overdose, harm your body, and more. Signs that you struggle with addiction and need professional treatment include:

  • Intentionally mixing substances to increase their intoxicating effects
  • Having to take more of a substance or higher doses to produce the desired effects
  • Experiencing symptoms of drug or alcohol withdrawal when you don’t use drugs/alcohol
  • Lying to loved ones or your employer about your drug use
  • Having cravings for drugs or alcohol
  • Making multiple failed attempts to stop using drugs or alcohol

What Happens During Polysubstance Abuse Treatment?

Most people with polysubstance abuse require an inpatient detox program before beginning treatment. Inpatient detox is recommended because polysubstance withdrawal can be challenging and unpredictable. People in withdrawal from multiple drugs require constant monitoring and immediate treatment for medical emergencies.

During detox, people may take carefully chosen medications. The medical staff will taper and adjust these medications to meet a person’s changing needs. After a safe, complete detox, people can start a tailored treatment program. 

Addiction is a complex condition. To effectively treat addiction to multiple drugs, people must receive comprehensive treatment to address the many roots of addiction. 

Polydrug abuse treatment programs utilize a combination of evidence-based and holistic therapies to give people the skills and support they need to overcome addiction. These include:

  • Individual therapy
  • Group support
  • Family therapy
  • Education
  • Medication
  • Mental health treatment
  • Holistic treatments, such as yoga, art therapy, nutrition counseling, music, and mindfulness practices

After completing a treatment program, it will be important to stay engaged in recovery. You may develop an aftercare plan that will keep you active in recovery and help you embrace sobriety for life. 

Get Help Now

For more information about our polysubstance abuse treatment program in West Palm Beach, Florida, reach out to the Mandala Healing Center staff today.