Polysubstance use is when your patient takes two or more drugs simultaneously. Reasons for such use can happen intentionally or unintentionally. Ultimately, having a variety of drugs in one’s system can present many dangers, including overdose. It is important to educate yourself and your patient about the dangerous side effects of polysubstance use and discuss attending a center for alcohol and drug treatment right away.
Dangers of Polysubstance Use
Your patient may reason that if one drug can make them high, imagine what multiple drugs can do? However, if your patient continually mixes multiple substances, they can develop a tolerance and require more drugs to achieve their desired high. Your patient needs to understand that different drugs provide different experiences, resulting in overloading their system with conflicting side effects, leading to emergency medical complications and death.
Stimulants such as ecstasy, meth, speed, and cocaine can increase your patient’s heart rate and blood pressure. Combining these substances can lead to needing emergency medical support. Such medical emergencies could include:
- Heart attack
Depressants, also known as downers, include opioids and benzodiazepines. Combining these depressants can slow your patient’s breathing and increase their risk of health problems like brain damage, overdose, and death. Additional signs your patient is suffering the side effects of depressants include:
- Weak pulse
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Mixing Alcohol With Other Drugs
Alcohol is a depressant. If your client were to mix alcohol with other depressants, they would be experiencing another potential lethal combination. This dangerous mix can lead to brain damage, heart problems, and damage to other organs. The likelihood of an overdose is greater when mixing alcohol with other depressants. While your patient may be thinking solely of the high they can get from this mix, it can perpetuate depressive symptoms.
Mixing Stimulants and Depressants
Your patient may think that mixing stimulants and depressants is fine because their contrasting effects will balance one another out. However, mixing depressants and stimulants can be lethal. Mixing depressants with stimulants does not balance the effects of the other out. Additionally, your patient may convince themselves into thinking that the drugs they are taking are not working since this mix can change the effects of these drugs. Such deception could make it easier for your patient to overdose.
Heroin and Cocaine
The mixture of heroin and cocaine is known as a speedball. Your patient could be mixing cocaine with heroin to increase the effects of each drug while experiencing different sensations compared to using one drug. If your patient believes that each drug cancels each other out, they might think they are less intoxicated than they are. Such thoughts can make it easy for your patient to suffer from a heroin and cocaine overdose. Since the effects of heroin remain in the system longer than cocaine, too much heroin can cause your client to stop breathing once the cocaine wears off.
Cocaine and Ecstacy
A combination of cocaine and ecstasy can create a euphoric state. This euphoric state will be short-lived. However, your client’s heart rate and risk of heart attack will last much longer, if not create permanent damage. Mixing two stimulants provides a short-term high with long-term consequences.
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Prescription Polysubstance Use
If your patient is trying to manage an underlying mental health issue such as trauma, anxiety, or depression, they might self-medicate. In their attempt to self-medicate, they may mix depressants with stimulants or use several different prescription drugs to make them feel better. However, trying to mask symptoms related to mental health issues by self-medicating can lead to a fatal overdose. If your patient self-medicates, then immediate professional intervention is crucial to helping them find appropriate treatment.
Finding Treatment for Polysubstance Use
The faster your patient enters treatment, the better chance they will have at sustaining recovery. Treatment should require a thorough diagnosis that involves:
- Looking into their history of substance use
- Family health history
- Whether they have a predisposition to mental health and substance use disorders
- If there are co-occurring disorders
Diagnosis is crucial for deciding which treatment is best for your patient. At Hawaii Island Recovery, we provide our patients with appropriate treatment to ensure we are addressing the root of their mental health and substance use disorders. If your patient requires detox, we recommend detoxing at a facility where professionals can monitor them 24/7. Having professional support will help them manage their withdrawal symptoms and build a strong foundation for when they enter residential treatment. After treatment, our patients will have developed beneficial tools and relationships to help them on their road to recovery.
Combining various drugs can increase your patient’s chances of a fatal overdose. The temporary high your patient may experience will not be worth any organ damage or losing their life. It is essential to seek professional care to prevent long-term consequences from polysubstance use. At Hawaii Island Recovery, our inpatient facility is considered one of the leading treatment programs in Hawaii. We strive to make our patients feel comfortable and secure. Located in Kailua, Hawaii, our patients will be surrounded by breathtaking and inspiring views, essential for healing. We also provide our patients with individualized and group therapy options, medication management, and holistic practices. It is crucial to understand that there are quality treatments for polysubstance use. If your patient is struggling with addiction and using multiple substances, the time to seek help for them is now. To learn more about our program, call Hawaii Island Recovery today at (866) 390-5070.