woman wondering what is polysubstance abuse

What is Polysubstance Abuse?

When someone is struggling with an addiction, it is not uncommon to hear the term, polysubstance abuse. That could also lead you to wonder, “what is polysubstance abuse?” When an individual is using and abusing more than one substance, polysubstance abuse is the definition of that disorder. Those who are suffering from addiction to more than one substance and want to recover should learn more about polysubstance abuse. At Right Step Houston, we understand substance use disorder and offer a wide array of addiction treatment programs.

Understanding What Is Polysubstance Abuse

When someone is abusing multiple substances at a time, that is the definition of what is polysubstance abuse. When polysubstance abuse occurs, it could include the abuse of one or more illicit or prescription drugs. Polysubstance abuse can also include alcohol use and abuse. It is not uncommon for individuals to use prescription medication in combination with drinking alcohol. That could result in undesirable side effects, as well as the risk of experiencing health and psychological problems.

The Signs of Polysubstance Abuse

Understanding what is polysubstance abuse also involves understanding the signs of this disorder. If you notice someone experiencing at least three of the following symptoms during a 12-month timeframe, then they might receive a diagnosis for the polysubstance disorder.

  • Harm to self: Individuals are continuing to use more than one substance despite experiencing physical and psychological issues
  • Interference with activities: Those who use more than one substance are reducing the amount of time why typically spend on recreational, social, or work activities
  • Loss of control: This loss of control occurs when individuals use more of a substance than they intended. These users want to stop using but are struggling to do so
  • Time: These individuals spend a significant amount of time being under the influence, obtaining, studying, and using substances
  • Tolerance: Because their usual amounts are no longer as effective, individuals use more of one or more substances to achieve the desired effect
  • Withdrawal: When individuals stop using one or more substances, they experience withdrawal substances

Why Polysubstance Abuse Happens

There are many contributing factors leading to what is polysubstance abuse. It is not uncommon for this issue to stem from genetics, whereby the individual has a parent or another family member suffering from addiction. Social factors also contribute to polysubstance abuse. For example, young people might receive multiple substances to try. There are also instances where individuals decide to use more than one substance because they want to enhance a single drug’s effects. Sometimes, they are also looking for a longer-lasting and more intense high.

Another contributing factor for polysubstance abuse is when someone is suffering from a type of mental health disorder. Those individuals may be experiencing mental health issues, whereby they try to use more than one substance to combat the issue. For example, when someone is suffering from high levels of anxiety or depression, they might turn to these substances to help them achieve calmness.

Understanding Who is at Risk

If you are dependent upon or addicted to alcohol, that puts you at a heightened risk for polysubstance abuse. Another risk factor you must take into consideration is if you are currently using a prescription to treat anxiety, depression, or pain. If you use one or more of these medications while drinking occasionally, that could lead to polysubstance abuse. We also learn from WebMD that those who have ADHD are also more susceptible to polysubstance abuse due to acting impulsively.

Final Thoughts

Do you have questions about what is polysubstance abuse? Are you concerned that a family member might need a diagnosis for polysubstance abuse? Now is the time to contact Right Step Houston at 1.844.768.0169 to receive the answers to your questions and alleviate your worries.

Scroll to Top