The complex nature of polysubstance abuse can make treatment challenging, perhaps impossible to endure on one’s own. Due to the unique combination of controlled substances an individual may be taking, successful treatment will require close medical supervision and a holistic approach to the client’s emotional, physical, and spiritual needs. At Gulf Breeze Recovery, we offer a comprehensive approach to substance abuse treatment. Call our team at 833.551.2304 to learn more about how we can help create a treatment plan specifically designed to help you.
What Is A Polysubstance Use Disorder?
A polysubstance use disorder is a specific substance use disorder where an individual combines multiple classes of illicit drugs at once indiscriminately and without a specific preference. This may include alcohol, cannabis, prescription painkillers, and opioids like oxycontin, oxycodone, Vic, opiates, inhalants, benzodiazepines, psychedelics like LSD, or psilocybin mushrooms, amongst many other varieties of street drugs. These are taken simultaneously to enhance the inebriating effects of the primary substance (for example, drinking while consuming anti-anxiety medications) or to achieve a combination of effects, such as snorting cocaine and smoking marijuana.
Sometimes, individuals become polysubstance users by accident, drinking or consuming a recreational drug while under the influence and discovering a euphoric “synergy” of side effects. Teenagers and other populations with limited access to drugs and alcohol are also highly susceptible, as they may consume any available substance out of desperation. Nearly half of polysubstance abusers first began experimenting with different combinations of drugs and alcohol before 18.
Dangers of a Polysubstance Use Disorder
Often, an individual with a polysubstance use disorder will discover a vetted combination they return to repeatedly. Others may take random combinations of drugs and alcohol or even be unaware that they are under the influence of multiple substances. Although caffeine and nicotine aren’t considered classified drugs, they are often consumed in large doses, potentially magnifying effects.
Because of the increased potency of these combinations, withdrawal symptoms are much more dramatic. In addition, polysubstance users are at much higher risk of:
- Developing mental illness, and/or attempt masking symptoms of mental illness such as chronic depression or anxiety
- Hiding the true degree of their physical dependence greatly increasing the risk of overdose or other accidental medical complications
- Development of chronic conditions such as heptatis C or miocardial infarction
- Chronic changes in brain composition, leading to cognitive impairment
- Drug interactions increasing blood alcohol to dangerous levels
In addition, individuals with a polysubstance abuse disorder may be more likely to avoid detection, as their usage patterns may not match the traditional profile of dependence on a particular drug.
How Is a Polysubstance Use Disorder Treated?
Due to the complex and nuanced effects of multiple substances on the body, a safe and successful detox will require professional treatment. Often, individuals must experience detox in a tiered sequence, beginning with the most dangerous substance. Although this may prolong the overall withdrawal period, protecting the client’s health and safety is essential.
Pharmaceutical aids to ameliorate withdrawal symptoms must be very carefully administered, with vital signs monitored 24/7. In some cases, such as benzodiazepines, individuals will need to be weaned off slowly with long-releasing doses to ensure the client’s safety.
After the detox stage is completed, a combination of strategic therapies must be employed to address the underlying causes of the client’s polysubstance use as well as any co-occurring conditions. This may include a combination of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), neurofeedback, nutritional counseling, mindfulness training, group therapy, and relapse prevention therapy.
Learn More About Substance Abuse Treatment at Gulf Breeze Recovery
Help is available to regain control over your life. Contact our team today at 833.551.2304 to learn how the professionals at Gulf Breeze Recovery can create your personalized treatment protocols, placing you back on the road to your best life.