Signs of Polysubstance Misuse

Do I Need Treatment For Polysubstance Abuse?

Understanding and Recognizing the Signs of Polysubstance Misuse

Polysubstance use, otherwise known as combined drug intoxication or multiple drug intake, occurs when a person consumes two or more substances simultaneously or within a short period of time. These substances may include alcohol, illicit drugs, and prescription medicines.

It is possible to both intentionally and unintentionally take multiple drugs at once. Someone may unintentionally combine drugs, for example, if they take something that is laced with another substance. But in most cases, polysubstance use is purposeful. People may intentionally mix substances to increase or decrease the effects of another drug, or to feel the unique effects of the combination and experience a high sensation. This act may seem harmless in the moment, but mixing substances can be extremely dangerous and result in long-term health concerns.


Polysubstance Abuse Causes & Risk Factors

When someone mixes two or more substances regularly, they have what is known as Polysubstance Use Disorder (PUD). Anyone can develop this disorder, but some individuals may be at a higher risk. Here are some potential risk factors for polysubstance abuse:

  • Age. Younger people are more likely to use & abuse multiple substances.
  • Race. Caucausion people are at a higher risk for developing PUD.
  • Education. Those with lower levels of education may be at risk.
  • Disability. To cope, people with disabilities may use more substances.
  • Employment. People without a job may feel stressed and turn to drugs.
  • Mental health. People with depression and anxiety may be at a higher risk.
  • Trauma. Individuals who have gone through trauma may use drugs to cope.
  • Accessibility. If someone has access to multiple drugs, they’re more likely to use.
  • Family history. Those with a family history of substance abuse are at risk.

 Of course, falling into one of the categories above does not mean that someone will develop Polysubstance Use Disorder. Many individuals with trauma or a family history of addiction end up living completely healthy and drug-free lives. However, it is important for individuals to be aware of these risk factors if they decide to use more than one substance at once.


Signs & Symptoms of Polysubstance Abuse

It may be hard to tell when someone is abusing multiple substances, but there are some general signs to look out for. A person with Polysubstance Use Disorder may experience regular mood swings, get into legal or financial trouble, have difficulty making or keeping relationships, neglect personal and professional responsibilities, and display drug-seeking behaviors.

People who struggle with this disorder are also likely to feel and show certain symptoms. Side effects of Polysubstance Use Disorder may include cravings, increased tolerance, anxiety or depression, withdrawal after stopping, or trouble with personal and professional relationships.


Should You Get Polysubstance Abuse Treatment?

If you display any of the signs above or experience any of the symptoms, you may be struggling with polysubstance abuse. However, only your doctor can make that decision. If you think you may have a polysubstance use issue, talk to your doctor before taking action. Do not stop using any medications without discussing it with your doctor first. If your doctor determines that you do have Polysubstance Use Disorder, they will likely recommend substance abuse treatment.

By receiving treatment, people with PUD can learn how to discontinue this behavior and live a healthy life. Neglecting treatment in a timely manner may result in potentially fatal effects like withdrawal, health problems, worsened mental health conditions, relapse, or overdose.


Polysubstance Abuse Treatment Methods

The first step in substance abuse treatment is medical detox. During detox, a medical professional will gradually decrease a person’s dose of a drug to prevent or ease withdrawal symptoms. When detox is complete, usually after a few days to a week, patients will receive inpatient or outpatient treatment. The type of treatment they will require depends on how severe their disorder is and whether or not they have a productive and comfortable home environment.

Treatment for Polysubstance Use Disorder usually involves a combination of medication and therapy. Types of therapy that may help include CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), motivational interviewing, group therapy, family counseling, and peer support groups. Using certain medications in addition to therapy may help curb cravings and manage any health conditions.

To learn more about Polysubstance Use Disorder and available treatment options, contact our team of substance abuse treatment specialists for additional information. Give us a call at 866-345-2147.