Addiction is a complicated, chronic illness involving various components, including heredity, environment and the presence of co-occurring mental health disorders. If these factors combine to heighten your risk of developing a substance use disorder, you should also be concerned about the potential for polysubstance abuse.
While most people understand the dangers of drugs like opioids and benzodiazepines, you may not realize it’s possible to become dependent on multiple substances simultaneously. How does this happen, and what can you do to break the cycle of addiction?
What Is Polysubstance Abuse?
Often, people who are already reliant on drugs or alcohol may start using a different substance at the same time. In some cases, they have built up a tolerance to one intoxicant and hope that adding another will enhance the effects for a more powerful high. Other people may fall prey to the impaired memory and judgment that accompany intoxication and make an impulsive, ill-informed decision to reach for alcohol or another drug while they are already high or drunk.
Though combining drugs may magnify the desired results, polysubstance abuse also multiplies the adverse effects of the substances taken. All drugs come with some risk of side effects, but as the University of Michigan warns, the results of combining drugs can be especially unpredictable.
Polysubstance abuse may also be deadly, especially because many users are not aware of how different drugs interact with each other inside the body. Having lost the ability to accurately gauge their level of intoxication, people might drink or use more than intended, with dire consequences.
Alcohol and Hydrocodone
Alcohol is so ingrained in American culture that we tend to forget it is a dangerous drug. When taking a prescription medication like hydrocodone, people who drink recreationally or habitually may ignore their doctor’s specific recommendations or the warnings printed on the drug label.
While it’s easy to assume a drug your doctor instructs you to take cannot have any negative consequences, hydrocodone is an opioid drug with a high potential for abuse. Because prolonged alcohol and drug use changes brain circuitry, once you link drinking and using with feelings of happiness, relief and relaxation, that powerful association becomes challenging to break. One sign of polysubstance abuse is a desire to use anything that alters your consciousness, regardless of what it may be.
Other than developing a polysubstance addiction, some hazards of combining substances include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sharp drop or spike in blood pressure
- Irregular heart rate and rhythm
- Dizziness or loss of coordination
- Loss of consciousness
- Significantly slowed breathing
Polysubstance Abuse Treatment in Long Beach, California
People living with substance use disorders are at risk for an array of severe consequences, including jeopardizing their health, relationships and professional careers. If you are struggling with polysubstance abuse, you can begin building a foundation for your future at New Found Life.
Because of the complexity and possible unpredictability of withdrawal from multiple substances, people with a multi-drug dependence should start their recovery process with medically supervised detox. In this setting, addiction professionals will monitor your vital signs 24 hours a day. Once you are stable enough, you can move into residential treatment and the next phases of your continuum of care. Contact us today to learn more about what we offer.