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What Is Polysubstance Abuse?

Polysubstance abuse is defined as using three or more drugs to achieve the feeling of being high. While drug and alcohol abuse carries its own dangers, combining substances is even more dangerous and should be stopped at all costs. If you are combining the use of multiple drugs, a substance abuse treatment program will help you learn to manage your emotions so that you do not need to rely on drugs or alcohol to deal with your challenges. Rise Above Treatment offers several treatment options to support someone with a polysubstance use disorder. Learn more about how you can start on the road to sobriety by calling (877) 641-0717.

How Are Users Identified as Polysubstance Users? 

A polysubstance user actively uses at least three types of drugs or combines two drugs with alcohol. Within a year of beginning to use, a person will have to show at least three of the following symptoms: 

High Tolerance

Often, users will need greater doses to feel an influence of the drugs they are using. This will cause them to use more of the drug than they first began using:

Participating in Self-Harm

Abusing multiple drugs is dangerous. If someone experiences harm due to drug abuse and does not seem to care, this indicates a greater problem. 

Avoiding Withdrawal Symptoms

When someone stops using drugs, they often experience withdrawal symptoms that can be painful. With polysubstance abuse, it is not uncommon for users to take drugs to prevent withdrawal symptoms. 

Using drugs more often than in the past indicates severe addiction. And the time spent purchasing and getting high does not allow them to have control over their lives–making them unable to be responsible for themselves or others. 

Why Do People Combine Substances? 

Substance use disorders are often the result of a person needing to cope with their emotions. However, when someone begins abusing multiple drugs, it is often indicative of someone with deep depression or anxiety who needs to feel a greater sense of relaxation or energy. The following addiction treatment programs can be helpful in promoting healing:

  • Inpatient detox
  • Residential rehab
  • Sober living

No matter how hopeless you feel, we want you to know that recovery is possible. A supportive sober network can make a colossal difference in a person’s addiction recovery journey.

What Are The Dangers of Polysubstance Abuse? 

Substance use disorder is already a dangerous activity. Users are less inhibited–especially when they are high. And once they have experienced a high, they will be willing to take great risks to get and take their drug of choice. For polysubstance users, the risks are even greater. Here are some of the dangers of polysubstance abuse: 

Severe Side Effects

When someone combines various drugs, each substance’s reaction will be different. In addition, documented side effects include vomiting, lack of coordination, fluctuating heart rate, high blood pressure, trouble breathing, and recurrent body pain. 

Mental Health Challenges

 If a polysubstance user is also dealing with mental health issues, it can often have a negative impact on the disorder. 


When you use multiple drugs, the risk of overdose becomes even greater. This happens because certain substances can mask the impact of other substances when combining drugs, causing users to take a higher dose to experience a high. This leads to an overdose, which can be complicated to treat. Here’s why: an overdose of an opiate will have to be reversed with naloxone, while other stimulants will need another drug. Overdoses often lead to death, but it will require professional treatment with polysubstance use.  

Find Support at Our Murrieta Rehab

If you are abusing multiple substances, it is time to seek treatment. At Rise Above Treatment, we offer a number of treatment options to support your mental and physical recovery. Contact us at (877) 641-0717 to begin the journey to a sober life. 

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