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What Is Polysubstance Abuse?

Commonly referred to as “mixing,” polysubstance abuse refers to the intentional or unintentional use of more than one drug in a short period of time. Polysubstance abuse is common and often underdiagnosed as the symptoms can be wide-ranging. Polysubstance abuse poses a unique and very present danger to the user. This is due in large part to the unpredictability of mixing substances inside one’s body. Reactions can be more severe than intended, and some drugs act upon one another, resulting in adverse health effects. In this article, we will discuss what polysubstance abuse is, the substances most often abused, and treatment options.

Dangers of Polysubstance Abuse

Unique to many other commonly abused substances, the unpredictability of polysubstance abuse makes it dangerous. Not knowing exactly how one’s body will respond to the substances ingested can put one at a high risk of overdose, even with small amounts of a specific drug. The bodily reaction is often more intense and severe than a single substance. 

By mixing multiple drugs in a short period of time, one can easily overload one’s body and experience heightened effects. These effects can materialize in dangerous ways. For example, if one were mixing alcohol with Xanax, one’s motor functions could be impaired significantly more than if only one substance had been used. Another example would be the mixing of a benzodiazepine with an opioid. Mixing this dangerous duo could easily result in severe brain injury, liver damage, heart attack, and even stroke. Even in small amounts, the mixing of substances can lead to devastating effects on both the mind and the body.

Types of Polysubstance Abuse

There are several main categories of polysubstance abuse. Whether accidental or intentional, it often involves the use of alcohol. This means that the most common type of polysubstance abuse among Americans is mixing alcohol with one or more substances. 

Alcohol is one of the most widely used drugs in the U.S. so naturally, it makes sense that it often falls into the polysubstance abuse category. Common “mixers” with alcohol include prescription medications like benzodiazepines and opioids, marijuana, cocaine, and other stimulants. 

Other types involve the mixing of prescription medications such as the mixing of benzodiazepines and opioids. Illicit narcotics can fall into the polysubstance abuse category as well. Drugs like MDMA, ecstasy, methamphetamine, crack/cocaine, marijuana, and heroin are sometimes mixed and have gained dangerous popularity through both the “party” scene and pop culture alike. Regardless of the types of drugs misused, substance abuse of any kind poses extreme danger to the user. 

Polysubstance Dependence

Polysubstance dependence can develop through either short- or long-term use. As with many of its other dangerous characteristics, polysubstance dependence can be particularly lethal. 

Spotting signs of polysubstance abuse can be instrumental in making the difference between a new lease on life and tragedy. Disengaging with friends and family, inability to stop using, and self-harm can all be warning signs of polysubstance abuse. It is imperative to seek help immediately, as swift action can mean the difference between a new lease on life and tragedy.

Types of Treatment for Polysubstance Dependence

While the effects of polysubstance abuse can be devastating, there are treatment options available. Seeking the proper treatment and appropriate methods of recovery can increase one’s chances of fully regaining control of their life. 

There are different treatments available, depending on the types of drugs and/or alcohol used. Quitting “cold-turkey” is almost never advised unless under the strict orders and supervision of a medical professional. Tapering off of certain drugs can help increase effective treatment and lessen the symptoms one may experience due to withdrawal. Having the proper support system and appropriate medical supervision during treatment can greatly increase the rate of success and make the process much safer than going it alone.

Treatment for Polysubstance Abuse in Nashville, TN

At Detox Nashville, we are here to assist you in conquering your polysubstance dependence. Our compassionate team of experienced staff and medical professionals can help you begin your recovery journey. Located in Nashville, TN, we are a luxury drug and alcohol detox facility specializing in helping people regain their independence from addiction. We pride ourselves on being a leader in medication-assisted treatment and offer continual care through our residential rehab services. Contact our admissions page today and take the first steps in your journey to recovery.

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