Understanding the Meaning and Dangers of Polydrug Use

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Written By Charlotte Miller

In a culture where more is more, is it any surprise that people may want to overindulge? Or perhaps they are doing it unintentionally. Polydrug use is also called polysubstance use and, in some cases, polysubstance addiction. It can happen for many reasons, but the dangers are the same.

What is the meaning of polydrug use?

Polydrug use is defined as consuming more than one drug at once. This can mean prescription or illicit drugs and also includes alcohol. This is inclusive of both intentional polydrug use and unintentional use.

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Types of polydrug use

Unintentional polydrug use is characterized by the unknowing or accidental consumption of two substances. This might mean that you have a drink with a medication that says to abstain from alcohol while taking it. It may result from not sharing all your prescriptions with your doctors and combining two drugs that react together.

Intentional polydrug use is the purposeful ingestion of two different drugs, illicit or prescription. This is usually to experience the effects of the two drugs combined and can have various forms and motivations.

Motivations for polydrug use

Those who regularly and purposefully engage in polydrug use misuse the substances for a few specific reasons:

  • To enhance the effects of one or both substances
  • To counteract one drug with another
  • In place of another drug to avoid withdrawal 
  • To mix the substances, as with methamphetamine and heroin

The real dangers of polydrug use

Numerous dangers come with the mixing of drugs. Polydrug addiction may require a different treatment approach from single drug addiction. If you happen to be in the area, research full spectrum substance treatment in Sarasota, FL, if you or someone you know needs treatment.

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Unpredictable consequences

The greatest challenge with polydrug use is the nature of the side effects and reactions. The misuse of substances individually is hard enough to predict. The use of multiple drugs will affect each individual differently, and the unpredictable nature makes it hard to know how to help.

Enhanced negative side effects

In the same way that the combination of substances will have enhanced side effects sought by the user, there will also be enhanced adverse effects. This could happen at any moment, and the unpredictable nature of the problem means you can never be sure what the outcome will be.

Increased risk of addiction

This is straightforward. Increasing the amount of substance in the system means enhancing the addiction potential. 

Higher likelihood of overdose 

If more things are coursing through your system, more problems can arise. Overdose is more likely because there will be more toxicity in your blood. Treatment of a polydrug overdose can be complex as the two remedies may not work well, or at all, together.

Before you go

The most important takeaway from this is awareness of what is going into your body. Take the care to understand and acknowledge the risks. Addiction makes this hard, but even addiction can be overcome with the proper support and treatment.