Does Polysubstance Abuse Make Rehab More Difficult?

Does Polysubstance Abuse Make Rehab More Difficult?

This entry was posted on by .

Addiction to one substance is serious enough, but polysubstance abuse — addiction to several substances — is a little more complicated.

That doesn’t mean polysubstance abuse can’t be treated. It just means that care must be of the highest quality. Caregivers must be knowledgeable and experienced in a range of substances.

How Polysubstance Abuse Happens

The perfect storm of factors that lead to substance abuse is different for everybody. Most people have some degree of built-in genetic risk, and life experiences certainly play a role.

Illicit drugs aren’t always to blame. One of the most common combinations is alcohol and prescription drugs. Both are legal and not necessarily harmful, but each has great potential for dependence. Opioids are a prime example. In the U.S., deaths from opioids alone surpassed 69,700 in 2020.1

Alcohol with Other Substances

Low-risk individuals put themselves in danger every day, usually when they discover that alcohol enhances the effects of certain drugs. It can make a buzz more intense. It can counteract the extreme effects of some drugs. For example, it might tone down the effects of cocaine so that people can use more coke without becoming hostile or paranoid. People use alcohol with anti-anxiety meds, muscle relaxers, sleep aids, and opiates.

It’s worth noting that dependence on alcohol alone is rare. Unfortunately, alcohol goes hand in hand with other drugs. People who become addicted to it are very likely to get hooked on another substance and vice versa.2 That’s just the way it works in the human brain.

Mixing alcohol with other drugs doesn’t guarantee a pleasant result. Sometimes, it’s playing with fire.

For example, alcohol might ruin the potency of essential antibiotics or prescription drugs. It can make certain drugs toxic to your body, and impair your physical or cognitive ability. In some cases, interactions with certain drugs could even be life-threatening. 

Other Common Combinations in Polysubstance Abuse

Commonly paired substances include methadone and heroin, painkillers and sleep aids, steroids and cocaine, and two or more tranquilizers at once. The gifted comedian John Belushi died of a particularly dangerous combo called a speedball: heroin and cocaine.

Special Risks With Polysubstance Abuse

Unpredictability is the greatest danger in mixing substances. Effects vary wildly depending on the drugs involved. Here are some possible outcomes:

  • Negative side effects — like cognitive impairment, nausea, or a racing heart — are usually worse with polysubstance abuse.
  • Additionally, drugs used in combination aggravate mental issues3 like depression, hostility, or paranoia.
  • Lastly, abusing multiple substances invites health problems and chronic disease.

Overdose in Polysubstance Abuse

Of course, the potential for overdose increases when more than one substance is involved. Some fatal overdoses occur when people are simply trying to manage a chronic problem.

It might be physical pain or a longtime mental issue like depression or anxiety. When tolerance to legitimate meds becomes a problem, people boost their effects with heroin, cocaine, or something else.

When taken together, especially at high doses, medicines for depression, sleeplessness, anxiety, and other ailments can overwhelm the body’s systems. Even over-the-counter cold remedies can be deadly when warnings aren’t heeded.4 Seizures, hallucinations, coma, respiratory failure, or stroke are just a few potential outcomes of polysubstance overdose.

Ocean Hills Recovery Offers California Rehab for Several Substances

Treatment is never one-size-fits-all. Each client has a unique story and unique needs. Each class of substances has proven methods of treatment that are more successful than others. In other words, what works for painkillers might not work for stimulants or sleeping pills.

This is the approach taken by Ocean Hills Recovery, a California rehab for several substances. Our personalized, well-rounded treatment plans offer help and hope for even the most complex cases. Here are a few of the approaches we use in our programs for polysubstance abuse. 

Comprehensive Treatment Program Approaches

Medically Supervised Detox

Detox stabilizes the body so that clients can mentally focus on getting well. The goal is safe, effective withdrawal from the specific substances involved. Ocean Hills offers 24/7 physical and emotional support in a quiet, serene environment. Partial hospitalization is available for clients who need special medical attention.

• Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

This therapy and its many variations have a proven track record with all kinds of addictions. CBT identifies the root causes of substance abuse. It tackles negative or inaccurate thoughts that trigger unhealthy behavior. Clients learn to recognize the triggers and respond in healthy ways. Equipped with coping strategies, they live fulfilling lives without drugs or alcohol. Learn more about CBT.

Dual Diagnosis Rehab

For any addiction, underlying mental issues must be addressed at the same time. It’s practically impossible to get clean and stay sober if depression, eating disorder, or other problems are left untreated.

• Couples or Family Counseling

Substance abuse has a profound effect on relationships. Counseling goes a long way toward understanding, forgiveness, and healing.

• Group Addiction Therapy Sessions

Ocean Hills’ peer counseling provides a safe place to share struggles without fear of judgment. Clients who are further along in recovery offer tips for success.

• 12-Step Programming

There are many versions of the 12-step model. It has a long history of success, from detox to long-term recovery.

Start Your California Rehab for Several Substances

Exercise, meditation, yoga, nutritional advice, and even art therapy are just a few examples of the extra help we offer at Ocean Hills Recovery to reclaim your life.

Treatment in our California rehab for several substances is thorough. There are lots of moving pieces, and we keep our plans flexible. When one approach isn’t working, we have many others to try.

Don’t waste another day in the grip of addiction. We’re committed to setting you on a safe path to recovery and a happy, productive future. Contact our team at Ocean Hills Recovery to start your journey today.

Sources:

[1] https://www.npr.org/2021/07/14/1016029270/drug-overdoses-killed-a-record-number-of-americans-in-2020-jumping-by-nearly-30

[2] https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/aa76/aa76.htm

[3] https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/addiction-health

[4] https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/misuse-prescription-drugs/it-safe-to-use-prescription-drugs-in-combination-other-medications

About the author: