Polysubstance dependence refers to a type of substance dependence disorder in which an individual uses at least three different classes of substances indiscriminately and does not have a primary drug that qualifies for dependence on its own. Although any combination of three drugs can be used to meet the criteria of polysubstance dependence, research has shown that alcohol is commonly used with another substance. Polysubstance abuse occurs when an individual abuses several substances over a short period of time, often in an attempt to enhance the effect of a single drug to create a more intense high.
Adult polysubstance abuse is often associated with other mental health disorders. This overlap of polysubstance abuse and mental health conditions points to methods of self-medication. Among younger people, polysubstance abuse is often the norm, rather than the exception. The most commonly abused polysubstances by younger people are alcohol, marijuana, and heroin.
Treating polysubstance dependence can be complicated. Many individuals who struggle with polysubstance dependence do not even realize they have multiple substance abuse issues, which can complicate the detox process. For example, an individual seeking treatment for a cocaine addiction may not realize that he/she is also an alcoholic until they begin experiencing withdrawal symptoms. As with any type of substance abuse, it is important to identify the root cause of polysubstance dependence. By exploring the roots of addictive behavior, we can identify and address the issues underlying the addiction.
Polysubstance dependence is complex, but it is not untreatable. At Serenity Now, CMHC, we are dedicated to helping all of our clients achieve and maintain emotional wellness. Although polysubstance addiction introduces a unique set of issues into a successful recovery program, our experienced and knowledgeable staff at Serenity Now, CMHC is prepared to help you or your loved one recover from polysubstance dependence.