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Can Rehab Centers Treat Addiction to Multiple Drugs?

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addiction to multiple drugs

When a person develops an addiction to drugs or alcohol, it can negatively impact every aspect of their life. Their mental and physical health and relationships can suffer. Some people may face severe legal or financial trouble.

But what about people who are addicted to multiple drugs? Living with an addiction to more than one drug can cause severe harm and make it more difficult for people to get comprehensive treatment.

While treating multiple drug addictions may be more complicated, finding the right treatment for people living with this condition is crucial. Learning more about polysubstance abuse and your treatment options may help you make better choices about your future.

Can Someone Become Addicted to Multiple Drugs?

Polysubstance Abuse

A person can develop an addiction to more than one substance. Addiction to multiple drugs–also called polysubstance abuse– is different than accidentally mixing drugs. For instance, drinking alcohol while taking a prescription antidepressant without understanding the risk of combining the two is not an example of polysubstance abuse.

Polydrug abuse often involves abusing one substance and then taking other substances to enhance its effects. When you use multiple drugs, the adverse side effects of both drugs are amplified. People with an addiction to multiple drugs often experience unpleasant side effects, including:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle pain
  • Dizziness
  • Poor coordination
  • Changes in heart rate and blood pressure
  • Breathing difficulties

While many of these side effects are merely unpleasant, the dangers of polysubstance abuse can be severe.

Some of the most common combinations of drugs involved in polysubstance abuse are:

  • Cocaine and alcohol: When combined, the amount of cocaine in a person’s system can increase by up to 30%. Cocaine may decrease the effects of alcohol, prompting people to drink more than they intended to.
  • Opioids and cocaine: A person who uses cocaine may take opioid drugs to reduce its effects when they want to calm down or sleep. Since these drugs have opposing effects, users may take greater amounts of the drugs. This puts users at increased risk of an overdose.
  • Opioids and benzodiazepines: Both drugs depress the central nervous system (CNS) and can lead to slow, shallow breathing. Users are at risk of brain damage due to decreased oxygen levels.
  • Prescription and illicit drugs: Mixing prescription medications and illicit substances can have devastating consequences on your health. Many prescription medications work similarly to illicit drugs, making it dangerous to combine them.

Simply mixing over-the-counter medications and illicit or prescription medications can have dangerous effects. You must talk to your healthcare provider about all medications or drugs you are taking.

Complications of Addiction to Multiple Drugs

Abusing multiple drugs can result in short and long-term effects on your health and mental well-being. When multiple drugs interact in your system, you may experience heightened side effects of each substance. While these may be uncomfortable, polysubstance abuse can also lead to serious health complications.

One of the most significant short-term issues is changes to your metabolism. When two drugs interact, they can change your metabolism and increase the concentration of the drugs in your bloodstream. In some cases, this increase in concentration can be immediately life-threatening.

Some of the long-term effects of polysubstance abuse are:

  • Hepatitis C: This serious condition is more common among people who abuse alcohol and injectable drugs.
  • Myocardial infarction: Heart attacks are more common in people who smoke and abuse cocaine.
  • Mental illness: Polysubstance abuse can worsen symptoms of a mental illness, and mental illness can worsen a person’s substance abuse.

Addiction to multiple drugs can have a profound, negative effect on your ability to function in your daily life. It can cause significant–sometimes life-threatening–complications in your health and emotional well-being.

The Risk of Polysubstance Overdose

People with an addiction to multiple drugs are at increased risk of dying from an overdose. In some cases, if a person abuses more than one drug, they may unintentionally take too much of a substance and suffer a life-threatening overdose. This is because some substances mask the effects of other drugs. If a person takes more than one substance, they may not feel the effects of the drugs. In response, they may take more of the substances to try to feel the desired effect. This can lead to an accidental overdose.

While naloxone can be used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, it is not effective at treating an overdose of other drugs.

Treatment for Polysubstance Abuse

If you live with polysubstance abuse, you must receive comprehensive addiction treatment to overcome it. In most cases of addiction to multiple drugs, the first step of treatment must be a medically-supervised detox program.

Detox programs are offered in both inpatient and outpatient settings. Because withdrawal from multiple drugs can be unpredictable, most addiction treatment specialists recommend that people with polysubstance abuse participate in an inpatient detox.

Because addiction is a complex issue with physical, emotional, and environmental roots, attending a comprehensive addiction treatment program after detox is important. A rehab program will address more than just the physical aspects of addiction.

It is crucial for people with polysubstance addiction to receive tailored rehab services, including mental health care, support, education, and medications that can meet their needs. The staff must adjust a person’s plan to adapt to their changing requirements during the course of treatment.

After completing rehab, people must continue to stay engaged and committed to sobriety for the rest of their life.

Get Help Now

If you or a loved one are addicted to multiple drugs, it’s important to find a detox and rehab program that you can be honest with. Doctors need to know if you are detoxing from multiple drugs so they can treat your symptoms accordingly.

At Woburn Wellness Addiction Treatment, we can connect you to a local detox center where you can detox safely before transitioning to one of our Massachusetts substance abuse treatment programs. For information about the polysubstance abuse treatment plans, reach out to the specialists at Woburn Wellness Addiction Treatment today.

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Medically Reviewed By

Inessa Maloney, MS, LMHC Clinical Director
Learn about Inessa Maloney

Inessa Maloney, MS, LMHC has been dedicated to the mental health and substance abuse field for a decade, providing her expertise to guarantee quality and accuracy.

  • Specializes in outpatient services with a focus on substance abuse
  • Expertise in reality-based therapy, CBT/DBT, and motivational interviewing
  • Holds a Master’s Degree in Professional Counseling
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