Renaissance Ranch

What Is Polysubstance Use?

Feb 8, 2022

Polysubstance use is common among those who abuse alcohol or other substances. However, polysubstance use also occurs among people who use caffeine and nicotine to cope with the side effects of poor lifestyle habits. 

Many people have poor lifestyle habits in this era. We do not choose sleep over television, nor do we choose healthy food and portions over what is easily picked up or made in a rush. We live in a fast-paced society that values function and hiding problems more than taking care of ourselves. As a result, the use of substances to mask our issues is a severe problem. 

Polysubstance use is taking more than one substance at a time or within a short time frame of each other, either intentionally or unintentionally. The consequences can be deadly.

Four Types of Polysubstance Use and Abuse

The CDC describes four types of polysubstance use. Each of these types is incredibly dangerous and can lead to deadly consequences and significant impairment for the rest of your life. Seeking help is important and can save your life. Over 250 people die from drug overdoses every day (data from 2019), and 50% of those deaths have been linked to polysubstance use. 

#1. Mixing Stimulants Is a Form of Polysubstance Abuse

Many people think of rave goers as persons who most often mix stimulants, but such is not always the case. According to the CDC, overdoses from stimulants have increased steadily since 2010. Some examples of stimulants include prescription medications for ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder), ecstasy, cocaine, and methamphetamine. 

One of these substances alone causes increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, and can create serious health problems. Combining one or more stimulants can cause brain damage, liver function problems, and even death due to overdose.

#2. Mixing Depressants Is a Form of Polysubstance Abuse

Depressants, also known as downers, slow your heart and breathing, as well as other organ systems. Mixing these substances is deadly. Some examples of depressants include fentanyl, opioids (such as hydrocodone, oxycontin, and morphine), heroin, and benzodiazepines (such as Xanax and Ativan). 

Mixing these substances often leads to overdose, brain impairments, or death.

#3. Mixing Depressants and Stimulants Is a Form of Polysubstance Abuse

Mixing depressants and stimulants often occurs when trying to cope with the side effects of one class of drugs by using another. However, combining these substances often hides the actual dosage of what you have taken. Using one of these substances alone can create health problems. When the two forms are combined, the effects can be life-altering and deadly. 

#4. Mixing Alcohol With Other Substances Is a Form of Polysubstance Abuse

Alcohol is a depressant and masks the effects of other substances. The use of alcohol with other substances is a form of polysubstance abuse. Alcohol alone can cause cognitive deficits and problems with proper organ functioning. However, mixing alcohol with other substances dramatically increases your risk of overdose and health problems and can even lead to death.

Unintentional Polysubstance Use

Many people may believe they are only using one substance; however, many substances are manufactured or cut with other substances. The use of fentanyl in other substances, including marijuana, is on the rise, creating more risk for polysubstance use and overdose. Additionally, stimulants and other addictive substances can be cut into other drugs. 

Illegally Manufactured Fentanyl (IMF) is becoming more common and is frequently mixed in other substances, including stimulants. The use of any substance without a doctor’s oversight can be deadly and create severe life-long consequences. When considering the use of IMF combined with other substances, overdose is more likely to occur. 

Things to Remember

Polysubstance use and abuse are not uncommon. You are not alone. It’s important to remember that polysubstance use does not only involve the use of illicit substances but can also include prescriptions. Letting your doctors know about every medication you take as well as your use of alcohol or other substances may save your life. 

According to data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, among people over 12 years old, there are over 59 million individuals who used illicit substances in the year 2020. While this data is not broken down into single substance use versus polysubstance use, the number is still staggering. 

Polysubstance use is a severe problem with the potential for life-altering results. These life-changing effects can be anything from organ damage, brain deficits and even death. Seeking help is imperative for your life, and your loved ones will thank you. 

Polysubstance abuse is a severe problem with potentially deadly consequences. This aspect of abuse of alcohol or other substances is not uncommon, and you are not alone. There is help available to you; all you need to do is reach out. You have the opportunity to overcome addiction and build a new and better life. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction to alcohol or other substances, hope is available. At Renaissance Ranch, we know the struggle of choosing and maintaining recovery but believe recovery is possible. You deserve a life lived fully. We offer services for every step of the recovery process, beginning with detoxification. We offer residential and outpatient services as well as a sober living home for those building their lives in recovery after residential treatment. For help, call Renaissance Ranch today at (801) 308-8898 and begin your new life. We are waiting for your call.