What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Polydrug Use?

People who abuse drugs may experience other issues along with substance use. Sometimes people drink alcohol and use drugs. At other times, they use multiple drugs at once which leads to an exacerbation of symptoms and challenges to deal with in recovery. Polydrug users put their brains and bodies at risk, unwittingly, to chase an experience that will only end with them feeling worse (not better). Learn more about polydrug use and how to support a loved one in getting help for addiction.

Defining Polydrug Use

When a person uses one or more drugs at the same time, that is polydrug use. Sometimes one makes the other drug create a better effect while other times one drug downplays effects of the other. Taking cocaine and sedative drugs may take the edge off cocaine for a person but combining pills, drugs, or alcohol is very risky. Drug interactions and combinations can be lethal for some people who struggle with addiction. They may not know how much they are taking or how it will interact with the other drugs they are taking. Sometimes it seems not to matter what happens, so long as the effects feel good for the person in the moment. Such is the nature of addiction it takes away critical thinking skills about the impact of drugs on the body until it is too late. Learning about polydrug use and its impact can support a person to heal.

Drug Combinations

When a person combines drugs, there may be common threads as to what is used together. This may include:

  • Depressant medication with stimulants called ‘speedball.’ The depressant lowers the heart rate and blood pressure. When the stimulant wears off, the opiate effects are felt more highly, but may also depress breathing
  • MDMA and antidepressants are two drugs used in combination that may prove fatal for some people because of the way it interacts with serotonin in the body. The brain may be flooded by serotonin which is not healthy and can lead to serious risks
  • Drug use with marijuana can have serious, if not fatal, consequences. When used in combination with antidepressants, a person may experience heart problems. The effects of cocaine may also be felt

Common Denominator

Most common polydrug use comes in the form of drinking alcohol and using substances. Anything from benzodiazepines to opiates, antidepressants, and alcohol can occur for people with addiction. Alcohol and depressants do not mix well together. Alcohol suppresses the central nervous system, also a depressant. The combination of these two slow down the nervous system, leading to irregular heart rate, dizziness, or slowed mental capacity. People end up in hospitals every year suffering from polydrug use in the form of alcohol and substance abuse. If a person you love is suffering from polydrug use, they likely:

  • Stopped caring about hygiene
  • Do not enjoy the things they used to
  • Are secretive about where they go, who they see, and what they do in their free time
  • Have trouble holding a job
  • Struggle to maintain relationships
  • Have mood swings or experience erratic behavior
  • Are easily agitated or confused

Treatment for polydrug use is key to helping a person in recovery. Detox is the first step to getting drugs out of the system, which is difficult depending on what they are using and how often. Withdrawal effects may increase with the more drugs play a role in a person’s life. Quitting some drugs can lead to dangerous, even lethal, side effects without someone watching after them to ensure safety. Getting the right help is essential in a treatment facility focusing on special detox, withdrawal, and aftercare programs for people in recovery.

The Last Resort provides a safe, supportive environment for men in a retreat-like setting. Nature is an important component of recovery and healing. We strive to provide a place of enrichment that cultivates the inner as well as the outer journey of recovery. However you find your way to the Last Resort, we endeavor to provide a haven where you can journey through recovery feeling like your life and story have meaning and a purpose. Call us to find out more: 512-750-6750.