What is Polysubstance Dependence?

Smoking - Polysubstance Dependence - Beachside

“It’s funny. At first, I think you start getting high to dull your emotions, to escape from them. But after a while you realize that the drugs are what are making your life untenable, they are actually what are heightening every emotion you have. It’s making your heartbreak harder, your good times higher. So, coming down really does start to feel like rediscovering sanity. And when you rediscover your sanity, it’s only a matter of time before you start to get an inkling of why you wanted to escape it in the first place.”

― Taylor Jenkins Reid, Daisy Jones & The Six

In the New York Times Bestselling novel Daisy Jones & The Six, Daisy lives the life of a true rock star of the seventies; clubbing until all hours of the night, partying backstage like a groupie and enjoying the life filled with sex, drugs, and Rock and Roll. For Daisy, it is this combination that takes her to the top of the charts but it is her polysubstance dependence that ultimately controls her existence. As her career skyrockets, she plunges her hand deep into her pocket to grab a few stray pills and slugs them back with whatever alcohol is handy. For Daisy, she does not have a preferred drug of choice to alleviate the pain of a strained childhood and to fill a gaping hole in her heart. Her self-medication became her crutch to get her through the stresses of the music industry, the challenges of impossible love, and to overcome her own self-consciousness. Daisy LOVED the high!

Daisy was intoxicated with intoxication. She could not even recall what it felt like not to be high and felt uncomfortable when she was ultimately forced to get clean. Like many people with a polysubstance dependence, Daisy used drugs and alcohol indiscriminately for the overall feelings that they produced rather than the specific attributes of any particular drug. She didn’t care if they created feelings of euphoria, pleasure, or profound sadness, Daisy’s only concern was that they made her feel unlike herself and took away her problems.

Although this term is used less often than substance abuse, it is no less dangerous or problematic. Polysubstance dependence refers to a person’s use of no less than three classes of substances each with their own addictive qualities. Their reliance on the feelings of intoxication themselves is what drives them to ingest, shoot, drink, smoke or snort any drug or substance regardless of its side effects. To a person suffering from polysubstance dependence, it is the feeling of intoxication itself that they strive after.

Polysubstance dependence begins with substance abuse. It is the point at which binges and on-again, off-again usage of a particular substance is no longer satisfying to a user and their body now craves more. It has become accustomed to the pleasurable feelings and emotional relief that use brought on and now relies on those feelings to get through the day. The only way to keep hold of those feelings? Continue to use more frequently as the body and mind has become dependent on the feelings of intoxication for normal everyday function.

Polysubstance dependence is an addictive behavior that begins in the mind. By identifying the root cause of the substance abuse, therapists can guide patients to a life of sobriety. But the process can be complicated since underlying issues and mental health disorders may be masked by user’s addiction. However, it is treatable with the help and support of trained mental health professionals like those at Beachside Treatment Center.

There are many signs and symptoms to look for to identify if use and abuse of drugs and alcohol has morphed into dependency in your loved one. If you recognize any of three of these over a 12-month period, it is highly recommended that you seek the help of professional to get them they help that they need to fully recover from polysubstance dependence.

Those who have grown accustomed to the certain drugs tend to require more and in larger doses to achieve the same high. As their tolerance increases for one type of drug, this is when they may begin to experiment with other types of substances to continue to achieve the same result.

Signs of withdrawal may be common in substance users even though they are still using. As the body craves more, it begins to display signs to tell the person to continue to feed its need.

Time is a very big factor for many substance abuse users in that they may spend a significant amount of time identifying which drugs will provide them the desired high, the procurement of drugs, the time spent using drugs and the amount of time that is required to recover from its effects.

Polysubstance dependence removes a person’s ability to rationally make decisions about their drug habits and choices. Their brain no longer has control but rather the body has taken over, constantly demanding more and more, leaving little room for negotiation or control. They become physically unable to stop using drugs unless intervention is done to eliminate drugs and alcohol from the equation altogether.

Individuals who have succumbed to dependency no longer have the conscious thought that they may be doing harm to their body. The physical need for the substance overrides any logical notion that they may be doing irreparable damage or putting themselves at risk of serious injury or even death.

Using and abusing substances of any kind is dangerous enough let alone when multiple drugs are taken simultaneously especially when the user does not pay this danger any mind. Of course, all drugs come with increased side effects but when combined, the potency and possibility for complications increases exponentially. It is not as simple as adding up all of the risks associated with each drug independently. Users may experience nausea, vomiting, body pain, balance issues, increased heart rate, blood pressure and respiration rate to name a few.

The interaction of various drugs may boost toxicity, reduce metabolism, and increase blood concentration of the substance. Certainly, you have read the warning labels of even over-the-counter medications and supplements which caution the user to avoid certain foods, prescription medications and alcohol when taking them. Illicit drug packaging does not come with those same labels.

While drug overdose can occur from any substance, the risk factor of an overdose occurring increases dramatically when multiple substances are abused. Some drugs may interfere with the effects of another and a user may take more to try to achieve the same result causing an overdose or death.

Withdrawal from polysubstance dependence is much more complicated than from one substance alone. An effective treatment plan will include detox followed by a comprehensive addiction treatment program to address the root of the dependency and addiction issues. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) will focus on thought and emotional patterns to identify mental health issues that may leading to the destructive behavior. The treatment plan may also include prescribed medication to mitigate the effects of withdrawal and to ween the body from dependency. Each case of polysubstance dependence must be carefully evaluated to best meet the needs of the individual. If you suspect that your loved one is abusing and is possibly dependent, it is critical that you get them help as soon as possible from an experienced mental health professional.

Success - Polysubstance Dependence - Beachside

The Rock Star lifestyle that Daisy Jones enjoyed which involved her polysubstance dependence is not limited to the music and entertainment industry of Southern California as one might think. Teens and adults across the United States have expanded their drug alcohol habits from simply one substance of choice to three or more as their body becomes dependent upon it. Polysubstance dependence is treatable and through therapy, lifestyle changes, thought and habit modifications, your loved one can live a sober life without dependence upon drugs and alcohol. Reach out today to the trained mental health professionals at Beachside Treatment Center for diagnosis and treatment.