woman staring off thinking What Is Polysubstance Abuse

What Is Polysubstance Abuse?

When you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, knowing more about what polysubstance abuse is can help you find the right drug rehab program. Polysubstance abuse is a condition that occurs when someone is abusing multiple substances. A person may have an addiction to alcohol, prescription medication, or illicit drugs at the same time. They are addicted to the feeling of being high and will often use multiple drugs to maintain that sense of euphoria.

For the addicted person, one drug may segue into another (a gateway drug). Or, the person may be abusing two different substances, not realizing the risk of overdose or side effects. Addiction treatment programs in Massachusetts are available for those who currently have multiple addictions. They don’t have to continue on a path that leads to a deterioration of health and relationships.

Common Substances that Are Abused at the Same Time

While any addictive substance has the potential to be abused alongside another substance, some drugs are used more commonly than others. Substances commonly used in polysubstance abuse may include those below.


Alcohol is by far the substance that is often used alongside illicit drugs or prescription medication. Seemingly less problematic because of its legal status, alcohol abuse causes many addiction issues. The effects of alcohol can either reinforce the effects of a drug such as benzos or counter the effects of a drug such as opioids or cocaine. Someone who abuses both alcohol and another substance is at risk of an overdose.

Prescription Medication

There is a stigma about prescription medication that the drugs are safe and can be consumed with any other substance. This is because prescriptions are provided by medical professionals. However, benzos or opioids can be misused and abused. They can also be dangerous when taken alongside any other drug or alcohol.


A hallucinogen is a psychoactive agent that causes euphoria, hallucination, or changes in emotions and thoughts. One of the most common hallucinogens is marijuana. When combined with another substance, the high that someone feels can increase substantially, leading to intense hallucinations or psychosis.

Illicit Drugs

Illicit drugs such as meth, heroin, and cocaine are among the most dangerous drugs on the market. When taken alone, they already present a risk of overdose or harmful side effects. The risk increases significantly when these drugs are taken with alcohol, prescription medications, or other illicit drugs.

When these substances are abused at the same time, it becomes increasingly difficult to end an addiction. Substance abuse treatment programs provide a wide range of treatments to help an addicted person conquer multiple addictions at the same time.

Challenges in Treating Polysubstance Abuse

Addiction is a complex condition that requires multiple layers of treatment over an extended period. When a person combines two substances and develops a dependence on each, all associated issues intensify, leading to an additional need for specialized treatment.

Treatment specialists and clients often face specific challenges in treatment, such as the following:

  • Severe withdrawal symptoms during detox
  • Overcoming mental health disorders that occur as a result of the addiction
  • Fighting multiple cravings that may differ for each substance
  • Developing multiple relapse prevention plans
  • Addressing all problems surrounding the use of each drug

Regardless of the challenges, it is possible to overcome addiction. An addiction treatment center in Massachusetts provides detox, rehab, and aftercare in either inpatient or outpatient settings. Therapy can involve individual, family, or group sessions for 30, 60, or 90 days. A person who has severe addiction can still get the help they need to overcome substance abuse and manage the symptoms of any mental health disorders.

Learn More About Polysubstance Abuse at Washburn House

Polysubstance abuse is the misuse of two or more substances. Find out more about the condition at Washburn House. We offer a broad spectrum of treatment for all types of addictions and mental illnesses.

Contact us today by calling 855.298.3104 to find out more about your treatment options. We are here to help you get on the road to recovery.

Scroll to Top