Polysubstance Overdose

When people think about polysubstance abuse, they most often think of illicit drug combinations such as “speedballs” containing heroin and cocaine. Since cocaine is a stimulant and heroin is a depressant, the intent is to get the intense euphoric feelings of these drugs while minimizing the negative effects. However when mixing a stimulant with a depressant, a person may experience the following:

  • Confusion
  • Incoherence
  • Blurred vision
  • Stupor
  • Drowsiness
  • Uncoordinated motor skills
  • Depression
  • Hallucinations
  • Respiratory
  • Death

Prescribed Medications and Polysubstance Abuse

Polysubstance abuse is defined as the use of three or more groups of addictive substances over a period of twelve months. While polysubstance abuse is often thought to be a conscious choice a person makes, there is increasing concern for people who have been prescribed several different medications. This may occur when a person goes to a doctor because of pain. The doctor prescribes a pain reliever, but the person is not comfortable with some of the side effects, so the doctor prescribes an additional medication to treat the predominant side effects of the original medication. While the physician may be cautious about these prescriptions, the person may also receive medications from a psychiatrist because of anxiety, depression or another mental health issue. Patients are not always aware that they must inform doctors or psychiatrists of any and all medications they are taking. If the psychiatrist prescribes a medication for anxiety or depression, the original patient is now taking three prescribed medications and may be self-medicating with additional over-the-counter products. While any one of these substances may seem harmless, the combination can lead to allergic reactions, extreme side effects or overdose.

Alcohol and Polysubstance Abuse

Although legal, alcohol is a drug and is often part of a polysubstance abuse equation. Alcohol may interact with medications, but recommendations to substance alcohol use while on prescribed drugs may be overlooked. A person who frequently drinks may not mention this alcohol use to a physician, when they are being treated for another issue. This alcohol use cannot then be taken into consideration when determining the best prescription, dosage or course of action.

Avoid Polysubstance Overdose

It is not uncommon for a person to take a variety of drugs that interact and cause harm or overdose. Please call our toll-free helpline to discuss your or a loved one’s drug use and to determine if you are in danger of addiction or overdose. We are here for you 24 hours a day, so please call now.