Man thinking about polysubstance addiction

What Is Polysubstance Addiction?

When someone is struggling with an addiction, it is not uncommon to hear the term “polysubstance abuse.” That could also make you wonder, “What is polysubstance abuse?” When an individual is using and abusing more than one substance, they are struggling with not a substance use disorder (SUD) but polysubstance abuse disorder. Those struggling with polysubstance addiction should seek professional help designed for their needs.

At Right Step Houston, we offer a variety of treatment programs to help you or your loved one on the road to recovery. Our team of experts will create a comprehensive treatment plan tailored to each individual’s unique needs. Contact our experienced and knowledgeable staff at 1.844.768.0169 to learn more about the addiction treatment programs we offer today.

What Is the Meaning of Polysubstance Abuse?

The term polysubstance abuse is used when someone is addicted to more than one substance. It is important to note that the individual does not necessarily have to be addicted to all substances they are abusing. However, they must be addicted to at least two substances to fall under polysubstance abuse. Addictive substances that are typically part of polysubstance abuse cases include:

  • Alcohol
  • Cannabis
  • Cocaine
  • Prescription drugs
  • Opioids

While people can abuse any combination of these substances, alcohol and another substance are the most common. It is not uncommon for those struggling with alcoholism to turn to other substances to self-medicate or numb the symptoms they are experiencing. Some individuals also use prescription medication in combination with drinking alcohol. That could result in undesirable side effects and the risk of experiencing health and psychological problems.

Why Does Polysubstance Abuse Happen?

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 struggling with a type of mental health disorder different from their addiction. Individuals like this may be experiencing mental health issues, and they may use more than one substance to combat the discomfort they feel due to them. For example, when someone is suffering from high levels of anxiety or depression, they might turn to these substances to help them achieve calmness.

What Are the Signs of Polysubstance Addiction?

If you notice someone experiencing at least three of the following symptoms during a 12-month timeframe, then they might receive a diagnosis of polysubstance use disorder:

  • Interference with activities – Those who use more than one substance reduce the time they typically spend on recreational, social, or work activities.
  • Loss of control – This loss of power occurs when individuals use more of a substance than they intended. These users want to stop using but are struggling to do so.
  • Self-harm – Individuals continue to use more than one substance despite experiencing unwanted physical and psychological issues.
  • Time spent on addictive substances – These individuals spend a significant amount of time under the influence, obtaining, studying, and using substances.
  • Tolerance to addictive substances – Because their usual amounts are no longer as adequate, individuals use more of one or more substances to achieve the desired effect.

When individuals stop using one or more addictive substances, they also experience withdrawal symptoms. These unwanted physical and psychological effects include anxiety, depression, headaches, insomnia, muscle aches, nausea or vomiting, sweating, and tremors.

Who Is at Risk of Developing Polysubstance Addiction?

A dependency or addiction to alcohol can put you at a heightened risk for developing polysubstance abuse. Another risk factor you must consider 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.

Those who have ADHD are also more susceptible to polysubstance abuse due to acting impulsively.

Learn More About Polysubstance Addiction Treatment at The Right Step Houston

Do you have questions about polysubstance addiction? Perhaps you are concerned that a family member could be struggling with polysubstance abuse. If this is the case, contact The Right Step Houston at 1.844.768.0169 to receive the answers to your questions and alleviate your worries.

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