Alcohol or drug addiction is a dangerous disease that poses significant risks to an individual’s physical and mental health. However, that only considers using a single substance at a time. Using more than one substance can be even more dangerous. This is referred to as mixing substances or polydrug use. Learning more about the dangers of this practice can help steer people away from risky combinations of substances.
If you live in Ohio and are struggling with drug or alcohol use, there are centers for drug and alcohol addiction treatment in Hillard, OH. Mixing substances does not need to happen often to cause addiction or overdose. The wrong combination and the wrong dose can be fatal. It’s always best to get professional help before it’s too late. Thankfully, various treatment options can fit almost anyone’s financial capability and schedule, making it possible to enter recovery even while handling other responsibilities.
What Is Polydrug Use?
Polydrug abuse is when someone uses multiple drugs simultaneously or one after another. This can involve illicit drugs, prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs, or alcohol. People might do this to boost, balance, or offset the effects of certain substances. Mixing substances this way can be risky, increasing the chances of an overdose, bad drug interactions, addiction, and long-term health issues. It’s especially dangerous because it’s hard to know how different drugs will interact with each other and how they’ll affect each person.
Mixing alcohol and prescription drugs is a common form of polydrug use. Many people do not even consider it, as prescription or maintenance drugs are often considered harmless. Other common examples of polydrug use include:
- Alcohol and cocaine
- Ecstasy and alcohol
- Opioids and benzodiazepines
- Meth and heroin
- Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and marijuana
These are just a few examples, and people may use many other combinations of substances.
Risks of Mixing Substances
Physical Health Risks
Polydrug use comes with several physical and mental health risks. Here are some potential physical dangers linked to polydrug use:
- Overdose – Mixing substances can lead to a higher risk of overdose, especially when the drugs have similar effects, like opioids and benzodiazepines.
- Drug interactions – Different drugs can interact unexpectedly, sometimes causing severe health problems, like organ damage or breathing difficulties.
- More substantial side effects – Combining drugs can intensify their side effects, like increased heart rate or blood pressure.
- Organ damage – The combined impact of multiple drugs can strain organs like the liver and kidneys, possibly causing long-term harm.
- Weaker immune system – Regular polydrug use can weaken the immune system, making fighting infections and illnesses harder.
Some risks are specific to certain drug combinations, while others apply more generally.
Mental Health Risks
Because each person is unique, the risks can vary based on the drugs, dosages, and how long they are taken. Mental health risks of polydrug use can include the following:
- Addiction – Using multiple substances can raise the risk of addiction, as a person may simultaneously become dependent on several drugs.
- Mental health issues – Polydrug use can worsen existing mental health problems or contribute to new ones, like anxiety or depression.
- Cognitive problems – Ongoing polydrug use can lead to memory, focus, and decision-making issues.
- Poor judgment and risky behavior – Polydrug use can cloud judgment and lead to dangerous actions, such as unsafe sex or driving under the influence.
- Social and relationship problems – Polydrug use can strain relationships with friends and family, causing social isolation and difficulties in personal and professional life.
If you or someone you know struggles with mixing alcohol and prescription drugs—or another form of polydrug use—it’s essential to seek help and support. A good alcohol or opioid rehab in Ohio can diagnose polydrug use and provide substance abuse treatment programs or refer the client to a nearby treatment center.
Start Your Recovery With Substance Abuse Treatment Programs
Getting treatment for substance use is always the best first step toward recovery. Mixing substances is often a symptom of a deeper issue that must be addressed, and professional addiction specialists and mental health counselors can help. Whether you live in Ohio or anywhere else in the United States, there are addiction and mental health treatment programs that can provide crucial support on the road to sobriety.