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polysubstance abuse

Why Is Polysubstance Abuse Uniquely Risky?

Most people associate addiction with only one specific drug of choice, such as opioids or alcohol. However, it is possible for people to develop polysubstance abuse, also known as multi-drug dependence. When this occurs, it can significantly increase the risk of accidental overdose, and may require specific approaches to treatment to help address the effects of taking more than one addictive drug simultaneously. 

How Do People Develop Polysubstance Abuse?

Often, people who take prescription drugs like benzodiazepines or opioids might not realize how addictive they can be. Even when you obtain these drugs for a legitimate medical purpose and use them only as prescribed by your physician, there is still a risk of developing a dependence. 

People with these prescriptions may unintentionally combine substances — for example, having a glass of wine with dinner while you have opioids in your system, or taking two different medications without learning about any potentially dangerous interactions. Other users intentionally take more than one kind of drug to magnify the effects. People who have built up a tolerance to opioids, for instance, might experiment with adding benzodiazepines to experience a different high.

The Dangers of Taking Multiple Drugs Simultaneously  

All drugs come with some chances of side effects, but as the University of Michigan warns, the effects of combining drugs can be especially unpredictable. Polysubstance abuse can also be deadly, especially because many users are not aware of how different drugs react to each other in the body. 

For example, an alcohol abuser who drinks daily might assume there’s no danger in taking prescription opioids under a doctor’s orders. However, the chemical interactions of these two drugs can dramatically enhance each other’s effects, with tragic consequences. Taking more than one drug at the same time is even more of a gamble because it is easy for users to misjudge how impaired they have become – thus significantly increasing their risk of accidental overdose.   

Other than developing an addiction, some hazards of combining substances include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Sharp drop or spike in blood pressure
  • Irregular heart rate and rhythm
  • Dizziness or loss of coordination
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Significantly slowed breathing
  • Coma

Detox for Polysubstance Abuse

Because of the complexity and possible unpredictability of withdrawal from multiple substances, people with a multi-drug dependence are best off beginning their recovery process at a qualified detox facility. In this setting, addiction professionals will be able to monitor your progress and your vital signs 24 hours a day, which is essential for your health. 

In a clinical detox setting, you will remain safe and comfortable while you achieve stability. In addition, the support and encouragement you will receive in medical detox will decrease your odds of relapsing, while increasing the likelihood that you will succeed when you move on to the next stages of your rehab treatment. 

If you are struggling with a multi-drug dependence and are ready to declare your freedom, reach out to us at Inland Detox. We provide an innovative approach to drug detox in beautiful Southern California and an unparalleled 1:3 client-to-staff ratio.