Polydrug Detox: What You Need To Know
12 May, 2022
Drug detox is always challenging. The withdrawal symptoms and treatment will depend on the intensity of the addiction, how long one has been using the drug, how much they use, and their medical history.
A lot goes into making a proper treatment plan for drug detox, but it becomes even more complicated when a person is using more than one drug.
Understanding the risks of polydrug use and how it changes the detox methods and outcomes is important for anyone using drugs.
What Is Polydrug Use?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describes polydrug use or polysubstance use as using more than one drug. This can include two or more drugs taken together or within a short time, either intentionally or unintentionally.
When someone purposely takes multiple substances at once, it is usually for the effect of that interaction. As a result, it may increase or decrease the high someone experiences. This often happens without the user's intent when drugs are laced with other substances.
This is extremely dangerous as the unknown substance can have grave consequences on the user's health and life. It is more difficult for a physician to treat an overdose when they do not know what someone took. Even detox becomes more complicated as well.
In both circumstances, polydrug use is unsafe. Mixing drugs, no matter the intent, can cause irreparable harm.
Risks of Polydrug Use
In 2019, the CDC found that about half of drug overdose deaths include more than one type of drug. Polydrug use is dangerous in every sense of the word. It can lead to short-term symptoms, long-term effects, and even death in far too many cases.
When a drug is taken, it affects the individual drastically. When taken with another drug, it is not just the effects joined but interacting that can cause serious damage. One substance can make another more powerful or weaker. Even drinking with a prescription drug can cause unknown and dangerous reactions. The effects will be much worse and more difficult to treat when taking illicit drugs and mixing them.
Most often, when someone is a polydrug user, they will experience:
Nausea and vomiting
Changes in heart rate, respiration rate, and blood pressure
Some of these effects will gradually decrease as the substances leave an individual's system, but they tend to worsen with continued use and chronic addiction. The more often someone uses multiple drugs, the more they feel they need them, and the worse the effects are.
Because there are so many drugs one can take and so many interactions, it is nearly impossible to predict the outcome of polydrug use. Polydrug use often leads to risky behavior, more drug use, sexually transmitted infections, and even heart attacks.
In addition, those who struggle with mental health issues have a higher likelihood of substance use. With a co-occurring disorder, polydrug use can worsen the symptoms of that disorder and lead to more drug use, creating a dangerous cycle.
The chance of an overdose is also significantly increased when polydrug use is at play. When someone takes a mixture of drugs, intentionally or not, the medications used to counteract one drug may not work for the other. Plus, being addicted to multiple substances makes recovery that much more complicated.
Polydrug Detox and Treatment
If someone has a polydrug addiction, inpatient detox is recommended as it offers the best chance at a positive outcome. Without round-the-clock treatment, monitoring, and support, fighting the withdrawal symptoms from multiple substances can feel tortuous and lead to relapse.
Like other forms of detox, polydrug detox includes vital monitoring, drugs to ease withdrawal symptoms, support, and a treatment plan. Because polydrug addictions can be complicated due to drug interactions and even unknown drug use, long-term care may be required.
Although drug detox is the first step to recovery, it is only the beginning. There is a lot of follow-up treatment required with drug abuse, specially polydrug abuse. Therapy at an addiction center is a major part of recovery and treatment for polydrug use. When one self-medicates to counteract the effects of mental illness or stress, they need to address such issues as a part of their recovery.
Additionally, therapy and further treatment help the client learn new techniques and coping mechanisms to change their thoughts and behaviors.
Polydrug detox is not one-size-fits-all like most detox programs. The treatment plan will be uniquely modified for the individual's needs and history. As treatment progresses, the treatment plan will change, and those adjustments are another step in the right direction for the client.
Polydrug Use Is Highly Dangerous
Polydrug use is highly dangerous. Mixing different substances, no matter the intent will always lead to risky behavior, medical issues, or other consequences. Polydrug use also supports addictive behavior. Using drugs to self-medicate or change the effects of other drugs will result in an addiction. Fighting that addiction can be extremely intense and overwhelming.
The Forge Recovery Center will be by your side throughout the entire treatment process, from detox to outpatient recovery. Our holistic, evidence-based, and effective programs will let you leave polydrug use behind as you build a new, happier life for yourself at the Forge.
Why run the risk of overdose? Get help for polydrug use today and contact The Forge Recovery Center.