What Is Polysubstance Abuse and What Is Its Dependence?

If you or someone you know suffers from substance use disorder it is possible that they begin using more than one substance. For example, they may be suffering from an alcohol-related disorder and start experimenting with various substances only to develop the habit of using one or several drugs. If someone is addicted to at least two substances they are diagnosed as having polysubstance dependence generally referred to “polysubstance abuse.” If you really want to overcome alcohol abuse, Alcohol Rehab Places Seattle has a chain of Alcohol Rehab Treatment Centers in Seattle, Washington with certified and experienced medical staff to guide and take care of you at every step of recovery.

What Is Polysubstance Abuse?

Polysubstance abuse is not an official term in the field of medicine since it has been removed from DSM-5 The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The term “abuse” causes this disorder to seem like a choice of the person, not a medical disease. This is why this condition is now known as polysubstance dependence or polysubstance use instead of polysubstance abuse.

What Is Polysubstance Dependence?

Polysubstance dependency is when someone utilizes multiple substances at the same time to increase the effects of each at any time, whether deliberately or accidentally. Additionally, the individual is not always chemically dependent on any of the many substances they are misusing.

Some people could prefer a particular substance that they use in conjunction with another substance in some cases. Furthermore, to be considered to be dependent on polysubstances, it is necessary to regularly misuse several substances over a long period of time.

Although, there is debate regarding the length for which multiple substances must be used. Some facilities treat polysubstance-related disorders that involve multiple substances being used for any period. Other facilities have a wider definition that requires the patient to use multiple substances for a minimum duration of twelve months.

What happens when someone is unintentionally using Multiple Substance?

Unintentional polysubstance use is when the user misuses multiple substances which are cut by other substances. For instance street fentanyl can be cut with the heroin and other opioids in order to make it more potent that prescription fentanyl. Unfortunately, the person who is using the street fentanyl typically doesn’t know of the fact that it was made using several substances.

Risk Factors

A few of the most commonly used polysubstance dependence risk factors could be:

Genetics and Family

If one person in the immediate household uses multiple drugs, there is an increased risk of the other family members developing a substance-use disorder or dependence on several substances. If you have been convicted of alcohol abuse in Seattle, Washington, you may be required to take a 26 Week Alcohol Treatment Program at Alcohol Rehab Places Seattle. Their 26-week Alcohol Treatment Program in Seattle is designed for those who have a more extensive history of alcohol use and/or legal running consequences due to their drinking habits.

Adolescents and Young Adults

Young adults and teenagers are testing the waters of alcohol and drugs, they may receive a mix of drugs to test. If they like the effects felt, there’s the possibility that they’ll keep mixing these substances to have similar effects.


Once a person develops a tolerance to their preferred substance then they are able to turn to different substances to increase the effects and create more long-lasting or intense experiences. Furthermore, the body continues to build a tolerance to each substance used.

Mental Health

The struggle with a mental health problem is another polysubstance use disorder risk factor. Some people drink or use substances to take care of themselves because they’re not confident enough to seek treatment for their mental health disorder. However, they frequently discover that mixing different substances is more effective to temporarily alleviate their symptoms instead of using a single drug.

Risques of Polysubstance Dependence

Every substance-related disorder is connected to serious and negative unwanted side effects. In the case of polysubstance abuse, these dangers are increased because several substances are used concurrently.

A few of the most common side effects are:

  • Heart Rates may be slowed or increased.
  • Increased or decreased blood pressure
  • Troubles with Breathing
  • Memory and Concentration Problems
  • Black Outs
  • Lack of Coordination
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Muscle aches and pains

The longer the duration of polysubstance use continues and doses of the substance increase, some of the more extreme side effects include:

  • Accidental Overdose
  • Coma
  • Respiratory Failure
  • Heart Attack/Heart Failure
  • Death
  • Deteriorating Mental Health
  • Lowered Immune System
  • An increase in the number of infections and diseases

Drugs that are commonly used together

While alcohol is one of the most commonly used substances alongside other substances, the other drugs commonly used together include:

Benzos (Benzodiazepine) along with Opioids

Benzos include Xanax, Valium, or Klonopin, are dangerous when they are mixed with opioids like heroin, fentanyl and the oxycodone. Both drugs function as sedative, which slows respiratory rates along with cognitive processes. Based on the NIH in 2019 16% of overdose deaths were linked to mixing benzos and opioids.1

Cocaine and Ecstasy

There are people who use ecstasy with cocaine to increase the duration of the effects. What they’re doing is causing a dangerous increase in their blood pressure and heart rates that can cause strokes and heart attacks.

Stimulants and Depressants

Stimulants are substances like meth, cocaine, as well as the ecstasy. Depressants include alcohol benzos, benzos and opioids. Mixing these substances typically masks the effects of the drug. In the end, the chances of overdose are significantly greater. Also, the effects from the substances do not cancel each other out , and are often very unpredictable.

According to the CDC that in the year 2019, close to 50% of overdose deaths were the result of the misuse of several substances.2

What’s the Process Polysubstance Dependence Handled?

Polysubstance dependence is treated like other disorders of substance abuse. The first step to recovery is to undergo a controlled detox to remove the substances in the body. The process of detox may vary dependent on the type of substance used and may also include treatments with medication to help ease withdrawal symptoms.

In cases where the individual suffers from a mental illness, their treatment plan includes similar therapies to manage co-occurring (dual-diagnosis) ailments. This is why it is crucial to ensure that both mental health and addiction are treated at the same time. In our Private Drug and Alcohol Rehab Centers in Seattle, each client will receive their individual rehabilitation program for polysubstance abuse customized to fit the substances they were consuming and the most effective treatment that meet their requirements. For example, therapeutic sessions may help the person determine the reasons why they started using different substances.

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