Polydrug use or “drug mixing” is an extremely common practice among people that misuse substances. It can be done by consuming one substance while still under the influence of another, or by consuming all the substances at once.
While not always dangerous or intentional, polydrug use has been associated with an elevated risk of negative outcomes. Generally speaking, polydrug use results in unpredictable drug interactions, some of them fatal. This is especially true when it is done outside of a controlled medical setting, as the purity of the substances and the resulting doses could be hard to assure.
This kind of drug-taking is extremely common, especially among younger people as well as people from specific subcultures. Milder forms of such use may include combining caffeine with nicotine or alcohol. Other more dangerous examples include combining depressants like opioids and benzodiazepines, or cocaine and alcohol.
Here are just some of the more serious problems regular polydrug users may face. If you need treatment for substance use disorder, please get in touch with a qualified psychiatrist. Contact Dallas Drug Treatment Centers to find a rehab facility near you.
1.) Higher overdose fatality ratesPolydrug use has been associated with higher fatality rates in cases where overdoses are involved.
This is especially true when combining depressant substances like alcohol, opioids, barbiturates, and benzodiazepines. Even combining mild sedatives like Benadryl with another sedative substance like alcohol could depress the central nervous system with catastrophic results.
Another reason for the higher fatality rate among polydrug users is that EMTs and ER personnel may not necessarily know what drugs are involved when they treat an overdosing patient.
While they can get quite adept at reading the signs of someone overdosing on one of the more commonly misused drugs in their area, this becomes more difficult if multiple substances are involved. Because time is of the essence in ongoing overdoses, a polydrug overdose can seriously complicate the odds of the medical team performing the correct set of interventions in time to save the patient.
Yet another reason is that lifelong polydrug use tends to more seriously compromise a person’s health more than misusing just one drug. This means that long-time polydrug users who overdose are simply less able to survive long enough to get lifesaving treatment.
2.) More difficult rehabilitation and treatment process
It’s difficult enough to treat one substance use disorder (SUD). But treating several at the same time is all the more challenging. Everything from the approaches taken during initial withdrawal management to the specific kinds of psychotherapy used in rehab can all be more complicated the more drugs are involved.
Unfortunately, not all rehab facilities are equipped to properly treat polydrug user. People who need treatment and rehabilitation for multiple types of SUD may have to look harder to find programs that can better address their needs. Many may have to settle for programs that only treat one rather than all of their SUDs. What this often means is that recovering polydrug users can have a much harder time progressing through their recovery compared to a person with only one SUD.
3.) Polydrug users are more likely to have co-occurring mental health issues
In addition to looking for a program that addresses all the relevant SUDs, recovering polydrug users are more likely to need one that addresses co-occurring mental health issues as well.
Polydrug users have a higher occurrence of depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. The consensus is that treating these illnesses usually results in better, more sustainable recovery outcomes. Unfortunately, not all rehab programs treat these so-called dual diagnosis cases, even in cases where the clinicians are fully aware of the recovering individual’s condition.
With the current shortage of mental health professionals affecting Texas and the rest of the United States, the lack of adequate specialized care is a serious issue polydrug users are likely to face.
4.) Treatment and rehab can be more expensive
Not only do recovering polydrug users tend to have fewer options available to them, the options they do have can be more expensive. In the American healthcare context, this often means they may delay seeking critical treatment, which may allow their compulsive drug-taking to wreak even more havoc on their mental and physical health.
It’s time to take polydrug use seriously
Given how common and dangerous polydrug use is, it’s important to understand the dangers inherent in mixing and misusing different substances.
This danger is not limited to the use of illicit drugs and also extends to legitimate substances like alcohol, medical cannabis, prescription medicines, nicotine, and caffeine, to name a few. In fact, the thing that makes polydrug use rather insidious is that they often involve completely legal substances. What’s more, polydrug use is not only a predictor of higher overdose fatality rates, it also predicts poorer long-term outcomes among those that seek treatment.
Thankfully, directory services like Dallas Drug Treatment Centers make it easy to find treatment centers that specialize in polydrug use and issues related to it. Get in touch with our team for an extensive listing of facilities that treat multiple SUDs in North Texas.