What Is Polysubstance Abuse?
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What Is Polysubstance Abuse?

What Is Polysubstance Abuse?

Polysubstance abuse is a problem that’s growing at an alarming rate. The term “polysubstance abuse” refers to using more than one drug or alcohol simultaneously. More and more people are mixing their drugs and alcohol, which can lead to many addictions, mental health issues, and even physical health problems. 

Dangers of Polysubstance Abuse

Combining drugs often intensifies the effects of the drugs. Though the user may experience a more significant high, combining drugs perpetuates risks to the individual’s life. The combination of drugs can have various harmful effects on the body and mind. Certain drug combinations may produce the following results:

  • Mixing stimulants, such as ecstasy and cocaine can increase the risk of a heart attack.
  • Consuming alcohol with painkillers may numb the user but increase the risk of dependence and overdose.
  • Cocaine and alcohol may heighten feelings of euphoria and energy. However, the combination leaves the user vulnerable to high blood pressure, organ damage, aggressive behavior, or death. 

Ultimately, the risks of polysubstance use are very high. Polydrug abuse can easily lead to emergency room visits, and many people die because of this dangerous and unhealthy behavior. Other risks of polysubstance use include: 

  • Increased risks for heart-related issues, stroke, and other causes of death
  •  Impaired thinking and judgment
  • Decreased or rapid breathing
  • Changes in blood pressure
  • Hallucinations or strange thoughts
  • Loss of control over thoughts and behavior
  • Coma
  • Liver failure
  • Damage to the brain, lungs, or other major organs
  • Respiratory Failure
  • Developing mental health issues such as depression and anxiety

Polysubstance Use Among Adolescents 

The combination of drugs can have alarming effects on adolescents’ developing minds and bodies. Yet, teens, more than adults, tend to mix substances. Following reports conclude that the most common mixture for teens involves alcohol and marijuana. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, about 70% of nonmedical adolescent users reportedly combined prescription opioids with other substances. 

Furthermore, in one study of diverse high school seniors, approximately 29% of the students reported engaging in simultaneous polysubstance use during the past year. Reducing teen polysubstance use calls for more comprehensive drug-use prevention programs and limiting teens’ access to these substances. Parents can seek treatment for teens currently suffering from polysubstance use disorder. 

The number of people who mix and abuse drugs has increased in recent years, but the consequences for society vary greatly depending on the type of drug involved. 

Drugs Commonly Mixed With Alcohol

Users commonly mix alcohol with other substances like cocaine, sleeping pills, and heroin. 

  • Heroin and Alcohol: This dangerous combination can cause respiratory failure, a loss of oxygen and blood to the brain, and permanent brain damage. The two substances slow down brain activity, making them effective for relaxation. Yet, users still combine them for the sensation and experiences produced when taken together.
  • Combining Sleeping Pills and Alcohol: When you mix alcohol and sleeping pills, you’re inviting a host of adverse side effects. Though some people hope the mix will improve their sleep, the combination often leaves them vulnerable to falling into a coma, overdosing, or shallow breathing. 
  • Cocaine and Alcohol: Combining alcohol and cocaine provides the user with more physical energy while speeding the user’s heart activity. The combination of cocaine and alcohol creates a new chemical in the body known as cocaethylene. This dangerous chemical yields the highest level of cardiovascular activity that sets extreme pressure and stress on the heart, which often leads to cardiac arrest and death. Mixing alcohol with other stimulants produces similar results. 

Combining Heroin and Cocaine

Users combine Heroin (a depressant) and Cocaine (a stimulant) in hopes of experiencing an entirely new euphoria without the adverse effects of each drug. Users hope the combination will cancel each drug’s adverse effect. Yet, such a fallacy has led to many overdoses. 

Additionally, such a combination leaves users vulnerable to respiratory failure. Users often refer to the mix as “speedball” or “speedballing.” 

Combining Cocaine With Ecstasy or Another Stimulant

When you mix cocaine and ecstasy, the user can experience a rush of energy and euphoria. Yet, combining two stimulants increases heart activity, leaving the users extremely vulnerable to a heart attack or stroke. Combining other stimulants like prescription Adderall and meth can ensure the same effect.

Combining Prescription Drugs

When people mix prescription drugs, they do it to self-medicate even if a mental health professional with good reason prescribed them said drug. Combining prescription drugs like opioids, benzodiazepines, and stimulants can be fatal. However, mixing prescription drugs with illicit drugs or alcohol can also lead to death. 

Polysubstance Abuse is a significant problem that has become more prevalent among teens. Many drugs are addictive and harmful when mixed. Using alcohol, marijuana, and amphetamine together puts the individual at risk for overdose or death. Additionally, with polysubstance Abuse, a person is more likely to develop a secondary addiction to another substance. Thus, the user’s treatment is more complex because of the additional substances involved in their SUD. Yet, by seeking treatment for Polysubstance Abuse, individuals can begin the necessary steps to recovery and leave their harmful substance abuse behind them. At Clearfork Academy, we work with teens who have problems related to polysubstance use disorder. Our qualified team works with each individual to support and tailor treatment plans to focus on their education and recovery. Don’t wait to speak with our admissions team; act today. To learn more about our treatment plan, call us today at (888) 966-8604.