Other Substance Use Disorder

 What It Is

Polysubstance misuse disorders occur when an individual develops the habit of using multiple substances and becomes dependent on them. The person may first have a misuse pattern of one substance like alcohol, but they are mainly addicted to consuming any drugs that may combine with the initial substance such as cocaine, Xanax®, heroin, and Adderall®. Co-occurring substance use disorder is not the same thing, the difference being that polysubstance misuse is marked by indiscriminate use of a range of substances rather than having only two primary substances being misused.

For example: In one weekend, a person may start drinking alcohol at a party and then use cocaine mixed with MDMA (ex: ecstasy, molly). At their friend’s house the next day they might start out drinking alcohol and then smoke marijuana before taking a Xanax® while the next night they take MDMA and ketamine at a rave party. The binging pattern of misuse often leads to addiction. The person may start to feel unable to see friends or attend gatherings without taking drugs. While they may not be addicted to one substance in particular, they are addicted to the euphoric feelings and will take any combination of drugs to achieve this effect.

If you suspect a loved one is misusing multiple drugs you may be looking for signs of polysubstance use disorder, It may be harder to recognize, but the usual signs below may indicate that someone you know is struggling with this addictive disorder: leaves

  • Notable change in personality or behavior
  • Trouble keeping up with schoolwork, job responsibilities, obligations, or relationships
  • Losing interest in hobbies, activities, friends
  • Mood swings or irritability
  • An increased need for privacy or sneaking around
  • Visible intoxication (slurred speech, disorientation, droopy eyelids, lack of coordination, speaking really fast, dilated pupils, bloodshot eyes, jaw clenching, etc.)
  • Asking for money, stealing money or valuables to buy drugs
  • Going to doctors frequently for prescriptions
  • Disappearing for periods of time without explanation
  • Increased injuries or health issues
  • Getting into problems with the law (DUI, arrest)

Different individuals will display different behaviors, and it may not always be easy to spot in early stages. Polysubstance use disorder can be harder to recognize since the person may not display obvious signs associated with specific substances like opioids or methamphetamine use disorder.

Complications from Polysubstance Use Disorder

There is an increased risk of health complications, overdose, and death from polysubstance use disorder. The risk increases when mixing substances because a singular drug can mask the effects of another, leading a person to take doses their body is not equipped to handle. Another possibility is that the interaction of the substances may compound the effects, which is often the case when two depressants like opioids and alcohol are mixed.

The medical and clinical teams at My Hope For Tomorrow are caring providers who specialize in treating polysubstance use disorder and are here to provide you or a loved one with the tools needed to guide you into a life of long-term recovery.

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Don’t let Polysubstance use disorder ruin your life, the caring and compassionate clinical team at My Hope For Tomorrow are here for you to rediscover life free from addiction.

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