While many individuals seek detox and treatment for one substance (think an individual who only drinks or someone that only uses opioids), many people that seek detox and treatment do so for the misuse of multiple substances. Someone using more than one drug in active addiction is fairly common amongst individuals suffering from substance use disorder. This is known as polysubstance use or polysubstance abuse.


Polysubstance use is when someone uses two or more substance together or within a short period of time. This can be either intentionally or unintentionally. Polysubstance dependence refers to a type of substance use disorder in which an individual uses at least three different classes of substances indiscriminately and does not have a favorite substance, preferred substance, or “drug of choice” that qualifies for dependence on its own.


Some examples of polysubstance use could be an individual having a drinking problem and consuming dangerous amount of alcohol, while also regularly using a benzodiazepine like Xanax or Klonopin. Another example could be an individual addicted to opioids like heroin or OxyContin, but who also regularly uses cocaine and drinks alcohol. Polysubstance use or polysubstance abuse can occur simply because someone is addicted to multiple substances, can occur because the person tries to regulate the effects of drugs and alcohol through different substances (an example would be using cocaine but using alcohol or pills to come down and/or sleep), or can occur because the individual is attempting to mix multiple drugs to intensify their high.


Polysubstance use can be extremely dangerous and the impact of different drugs with different effects can cause medical complications. The impact of multiple drugs on an individual’s brain and body can create major risk in terms of how the brain and body reacts. Overdoses can often occur when mixing multiple substances, and there are often long-term health effects and cognitive impacts and impairments.


Some important statistics related to polysubstance use:

  • In 2019, nearly half (50%) of all drug overdoses involved multiple drugs
  • Of Americans that have a substance use disorder, 1 out of every 8 people struggle with both alcohol use and drug use disorders simultaneously
  • More than 90% of individuals with an opioid use disorder used more than two other substances within the same year
  • 25% of individuals with an opioid use disorder (OUD) had at least two other diagnosable substance use disorders along with an OUD
  • Individuals with polysubstance use are more likely to have a co-occurring mental health disorder than those individuals with one substance use disorder of a single drug


The detox and treatment for someone dealing with polysubstance abuse can be more difficult and complex than an individual with a more straight-forward substance use disorder. Based on the specific substances an individual is using, the detox will be individualized to ensure that the person is safely detoxed and stabilized from each substance safely and effectively, and the medical team of doctors and nurses will need to make sure that all withdrawal symptoms are managed through appropriate medication protocols. Detox and treatment approaches must be tailored to the individual so that they can comfortably be removed from multiple substances, find physical and emotional stability, then move on through a process of treatment that supports long-term, sustainable recovery.


Here at Innovo Detox, our medical and clinical teams are experts in treating not just addiction and substance use disorders, but also co-occurring disorders and polysubstance use. Medical care, withdrawal management, medication protocols, and clinical services and tailored to the history of substance use and clinical needs of each patient, and a treatment plan and aftercare plan created to best support each patient into comfortably getting through detox and beginning a life of recovery from addiction.


If you or someone you know needs help for addiction or co-occurring disorders, please give us a call. Innovo Detox offers the latest in evidence-based medical, psychiatric, and clinical care for those in need of detox and medical stabilization in Pennsylvania and the surrounding Mid-Atlantic area. If we aren’t the best fit for you or a loved one, we will take the necessary time to work with you to find a detox, rehab, treatment center or provider that better fits your needs. Please give us a call at (717) 619-3260 or email our team at info@innovodetox.com. For more information on our company or services, please visit our website at www.innovodetox.com.