Polysubstance abuse making man, alone at a table, confused.Polysubstance abuse is more common than many people think when it comes to alcohol and drug addiction. This type of abuse is when someone is using more than one substance like alcohol and cocaine or heroin and meth. Not only is this extremely dangerous, but it makes it very difficult for a person to quit. These different types of substances create different pathways in the brain, and the brain craves each one.

There are many people addicted to multiple substances because their original substance of choice is no longer enough. After weeks or months of drinking or using, the person builds up a tolerance and will try new substances for a better or different effect. For some people, they try to balance their mood, sleep or alertness by mixing different substances. One of the leading causes of overdose is because a person begins mixing different types of substances.

The Progression to Polysubstance Abuse

There is only a small number of people who become addicted that started off with polysubstance abuse. It’s common for a person to begin abusing a substance like alcohol, and the alcohol was doing what they wanted at first. Whether they were trying to cover up difficult emotions or find some sort of escape, one substance may have worked. Over time, the substance loses its effect and a different substance offers something more.

Many people who get to the point of this type of a addiction are using additional substances that increase effects of another substance. For example, many people who become addicted to alcohol begin abusing prescription opiates. Alcohol is a depressant, and so are opiates, so the prescription drugs increase the euphoric feeling the person gets. These types of combinations can be very lethal because of the way they affect the body.

Depressants slow down the central nervous system, which is why many commonly abused prescription drugs advise people not to mix with alcohol. When the nervous system slows down, a person can experience shallow breathing and a slowed heart rate. A person may think that they’re getting tired and fall asleep or lose consciousness when many substances are mixed. The problem is that the automatic systems in the body aren’t functioning properly, and the person can stop breathing.

Common Forms of Polysubstance Abuse

Aside from trying to increase the effects of a specific substance, there are other combinations that are very common. Some people go down the path of polysubstance abuse to drink longer when they go out and party. There are others who may need to go to work and use one substance for the party and another to come back down. Some of the most common forms of polysubstance abuse include:

  • Heroin and meth
  • Alcohol and cocaine
  • Alcohol and stimulant medications such as Adderall or Ritalin.

When a person uses cocaine or certain amphetamine medications, they’re able to drink longer because these elevate the person’s senses. The person may have been drunk and ready to pass out, but a line of cocaine makes them feel sober. This can be very dangerous because getting drunk is the body’s way of telling a person to stop. Many people who mix stimulants and alcohol suffer from alcohol poisoning without even knowing it.

Getting Help for Polysubstance Abuse

Beaches Recovery provides multiple levels of care such as an outpatient or inpatient program for drug and alcohol addiction. We know that everyone who comes through our treatment center has different needs, so we want to give you options. For those with severe forms of addiction, we want you to be able to easily transition from inpatient to outpatient. Being addicted to polysubstances is dangerous. If you’re ready to quit, let us help. Call 866-605-0532.