When we think of substance abuse, we often imagine a specific substance being used by an individual. For many people, however, it isn’t just one thing but rather a combination or even an assortment of things. Abusing multiple substances is more common than you might think, and it’s an issue that comes with its own unique complications, dangers, and methods of treatment. These distinctions are important to recognize, as the challenges that come with polysubstance abuse require an understanding approach in order to provide an appropriate path to recovery.
What Is Polysubstance Abuse?
Simply put, polysubstance abuse is when a person abuses or is addicted to more than one substance. This can mean taking multiple substances at once or over a period of time in separate instances. Polysubstance abuse differs from co-morbid addiction, as it does not necessarily imply addiction. Though a person may be abusing more than one substance, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re addicted to the substances they’re using. However, polysubstance abuse does increase the risk of developing an addiction, as the more a person uses the higher their risk becomes. It also raises the risk of overdose and other health risks associated with the substances being used.
How Polysubstance Abuse Is Dangerous
Compared to the abuse of a single substance, polysubstance abuse has its own unique dangers. Often, people use multiple substances to counteract their effects or enhance their overall experience. This effectively multiplies the potential side effects and health risks of the substances being used, and may even compound the overall damage done to the body. Long-term health issues are likewise more likely and more diverse as a result. Another significant factor is that taking multiple substances raises one’s tolerance, which can drive a person to use even more and lead to a higher risk of addiction and dependency.
Because the risks are so much greater, greater care and attention is needed to address the multiple factors involved with polysubstance abuse. Treatment and rehabilitation methods designed to treat a single substance will be ineffective, as each substance a person uses must be addressed individually.
Polysubstance Detox & Treatment
Depending on the substances being used, as well as the length and severity of any addictions, medical detox may be necessary before treatment. This can be a delicate matter, as different substances have different withdrawal symptoms and risks. Some substances can cause life-threatening effects while detoxing, while others may induce unique pains and discomforts. When dealing with multiple addictions, it’s extremely important to know which substances are responsible in order to provide the right medication and support needed for a safe and successful detox. Without proper care for the specific addictions one has, there is a greater probability of risk during the detox and relapse afterward. That’s why it’s important to have an intensive program that tailors to one’s individual needs.
Continued treatment after detox can also be complicated but is important for making a successful recovery. When looking for a rehab program, it’s essential to find one that takes an individualized approach. Dual-diagnosis programs are the best choice, as they’re specifically made to treat multiple substance-use disorders.
Safe, Comfortable, & Successful Recovery
First Steps Recovery offers professional individualized drug and alcohol treatment services, including for polysubstance abuse and co-morbid addictions. Our treatment center in Fresno California is open now and currently accepting clients. If you or someone you know has a substance use disorder, regardless of the type or amount of substances, we’re here to help you return to a life that’s free from substance use and addiction. For help and information, don’t hesitate to call us at 844-489-0836.