Most people recognize substance use disorder as an attachment to a single, specific drug like opioids or alcohol. However, a lesser-known but highly dangerous form of addiction is polysubstance abuse, also referred to as multi-drug dependence. This condition amplifies the risk of accidental overdose and complicates the treatment process due to the simultaneous consumption of more than one addictive substance.
How Do People Develop Polysubstance Abuse?
Often, the pathway to polysubstance abuse begins innocently, such as with a prescribed medication like benzodiazepines or opioids. These drugs might have legitimate medical purposes, but their addictive potential can lurk beneath the surface.
Sometimes, people may unintentionally combine substances. They might drink a glass of wine with dinner despite having opioids in their system, or unknowingly mix two different medications that have dangerous interactions. Others might intentionally combine drugs to enhance their effects, like those who have built a tolerance to opioids experimenting with benzodiazepines for a different high.
The Dangers of Taking Multiple Drugs Simultaneously
Combining drugs is never a risk-free undertaking, but polysubstance abuse introduces unique, often deadly dangers. Many people underestimate how different drugs can interact within their bodies.
For example, someone who drinks daily may assume it’s safe to consume prescription opioids under medical guidance. However, the chemical interactions between these substances can dramatically intensify their effects, leading to tragic consequences.
The risks of polysubstance abuse include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sharp fluctuations in blood pressure
- Irregular heart rate and rhythm
- Dizziness or impaired coordination
- Loss of consciousness
- Significantly slowed breathing
The chances of experiencing an accidental overdose are notably higher with multi-drug dependence, as it’s easy to misjudge how impaired you have become.
Recovering From Polysubstance Abuse
Because of the complexity and possible unpredictability of withdrawal from multiple substances, people with a multi-drug dependence are best off seeking treatment at a residential rehab facility.
Canyon Crossing in Prescott, AZ, is a sanctuary for women grappling with polysubstance abuse. Our unique women’s-only addiction treatment program synergizes holistic wellness and evidence-based therapies. By combining adventure therapy and trauma-focused treatments with comprehensive mental health care, we equip our clients with the skills they need to remain sober for life.
Recovering from polysubstance abuse is challenging, but our programming makes it possible for you. If you struggle with addiction to more than one drug, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team for a confidential assessment and a personalized plan tailored to meet your specific needs.