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Polydrug Use: Signs, Dangers, and Treatment

Written on April 5, 2024
Polydrug Use: Signs, Dangers, and Treatment

Polydrug use is becoming increasingly popular among individuals struggling with substance use disorders. The dangers associated with it are often unknown to these individuals, leading to all kinds of health and social problems that can be hard to overcome.

Those who find themselves struggling with multiple substances often begin with recreational use which leads to the necessity of the substances. This often requires professional help to overcome. 

Defining Polydrug Use

In those who struggle with substance abuse, it is common to see them use multiple substances at once. Polydrug use is the simultaneous or sequential use of substances. This often occurs to either heighten the effects of another substance or to level out the effects of another substance.

Thus, the practice can include substances from different drug classes, like opioids and stimulants, and it increases the risks of adverse reactions from the substances. It is a dangerous practice, and stopping can prove to be difficult.

Signs of Polydrug Use

Polydrug use is dangerous, so those who suspect a loved one is struggling with substances should be vigilant in identifying the problem. Some signs could be indicative of the individual using multiple substances.

Some of those signs can include:

  • Admittedly using multiple substances simultaneously or within a short period
  • Having different paraphernalia such as needles and pipes
  • Fluctuating mood swings
  • Neglecting work, school, or home responsibilities
  • Risky behaviors
  • Financial distress
  • Drug-seeking behaviors
  • Unexplained changes in physical appearance such as weight loss
  • Developing a tolerance to substances

If there is suspicion of a loved one using multiple substances, encouraging them to get help can benefit them. They can learn to live life without drugs and alcohol, and begin living a better life.

What Are Its Risk Factors?

There are several risk factors for polydrug use. These can include social, economic, and biological factors, and can result in addiction, organ damage, or even death. Risk factors can include a history of substance abuse or addiction, trauma in adult life or childhood.

Others include a lack of parental supervision and family support, and poverty or lower socioeconomic status. Other factors can include financial distress or unemployment, accessibility of the substances, and peer pressure. 

Dual Diagnosis and Polydrug Use

Often, dual diagnosis and polydrug use can go hand in hand. Dual diagnosis means that an individual struggles with mental health conditions and substance abuse simultaneously. Using the substances can cause mental health conditions to be exacerbated, resulting in complications in their life.

Dual diagnosis requires complex care that addresses both the substance abuse issues as well as the mental health conditions. Treatment often involves a combination of medication and behavioral therapies to address all facets of dual diagnosis.

Which Comes First?

When it comes to dual diagnosis and polydrug use, the relationship between the two can vary. Often, individuals who struggle with substance use disorders turn to the substances in order to alleviate the symptoms of mental health conditions. In some cases, the use of the substances causes mental health conditions to become prevalent. 

Short Term Effects 

Many different substances affect the central nervous system (CNS). Often, polydrug use can include alcohol and other substances, leading to slowed reaction time, intoxication, and changes in heart rate and blood pressure.

Short term, the effects of using different substances together can result in adverse reactions from the substance use. Mood swings, confusion and disorientation may be prevalent.

Long Term Effects

Long term, the effects of polydrug use can be more extreme. Using substances like cocaine and opioids can lead to dangerous impacts to an individual’s health. These two substances have very different effects.

They can lead to irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, liver and kidney damage, as well as increased risk of heart attack or stroke. Using multiple substances at the same time can result in addiction and dependence, as well as increase the risk of overdose. 

Why Treatment Can Save Someone’s Life

Treatment for polydrug use can save a life. It can help the individuals who have found themselves struggling to learn new and positive coping skills that help combat addiction daily. It helps to clear the fog that the substances cause, allowing for the individual to gain knowledge surrounding drug and alcohol addiction.

Treatment can also help to alleviate symptoms of withdrawal while providing necessary and crucial care to avoid and prevent complications during the detoxification process. Therapies provided during the treatment process can aid in these individuals learning to live a happy, healthy, and productive life, without using substances.

Lastly, treatment also helps to treat underlying mental health conditions. These conditions often lead individuals to relapse if left untreated. Having the proper care can help cultivate a place of healing and growth.

Overcoming Addiction

Using different substances in combination with one another is a dangerous practice. The results can be devastating. Getting better is possible with the right help. 

At Flat Irons Recovery, we offer help to individuals struggling with polydrug use to help them overcome and live a better life. If you or a loved one are struggling, we can help.

Call us today and begin your journey to recovery.