Polydrug use, characteristics and consequences

Sherman Hoover
Polydrug use, characteristics and consequences

Polydrug use is based on the consumption of more than one substance at the same time. The combination of several drugs tends to intensify the effects of each of the drugs consumed, being a very dangerous practice. Sometimes the combination of certain substances is done impolitely, since many people are not truly aware of the danger that this poses. When we talk about drug use, we are not only referring to the consumption of illegal substances, these can also be prescription drugs that, if combined with others, can cause very harmful effects, the worst consequence being death from intoxication. Combining substances can increase certain pleasures but multiplies the harmful effects.

Other negative effects that can occur due to polydrug use can be brain damage, loss of consciousness, coma, heart problems, seizures, liver problems or respiratory failure, among others..


  • Most common substance mixtures
  • Alcohol and other drugs
    • Other very common mixtures among drug addicts are:
  • Polydrug use among adolescents
  • Death from overdose and polydrug use
    • Links of interest

Most common substance mixtures

The drugs and substances that are most commonly combined are alcohol and other drugs, as well as cocaine and prescription medications.

Alcohol and other drugs

Some reports have revealed that a large majority of hospital admissions for substance use also involved alcohol use. The drugs that are most often consumed mixed with alcohol are usually:

  • Cocaine and alcohol: These two substances are usually consumed together to alleviate the anxious effects of cocaine and giving rise to a very toxic substance created through the union of the two called cocaethylene. Cocaethylene causes euphoria due to the elevation of endorphin levels and reward levels in a way greater than cocaine alone achieves. However, cocaethylene is very toxic to weakened heart muscles, causing an increased risk of arrhythmias and sudden death..
  • Heroin and alcohol: Being two depressants of the central nervous system, their combination can lead to respiratory failure and a lack of cerebral oxygen. This can lead to permanent brain damage..
  • Prescription drugs such as Ritalin or Adderall and alcohol, produce a cocaine-like effect by increasing the heart rate and causing heart problems.
  • Anxiolytics and alcohol: The combination of the two elements enhances the feeling of relaxation, although later anxiety tends to multiply, it also produces a greater impact of intoxication on the brain, so this is a dangerous mixture.
  • Sedatives and sleeping pills with alcohol: The sedative effects of this mixture are very high, increasing the risk of coma and in fatal cases, death..
  • Painkillers and alcohol: There is a great risk mixing these two substances that can cause stomach bleeding and liver damage, as well as lower blood pressure and depress the respiratory system.

Other very common mixtures among drug addicts are:

  • Heroin and cocaine: The effects of these two dangerous substances are opposite (depressant / stimulant) and are often used to cancel the effects of one and the other. This produces a false sense of control that can lead to an overdose more likely, in addition to the physical damage that they cause.
  • Ecstasy and cocaine: These two stimulants cause a higher heart rate and an increased risk of heart attack or stroke.
  • Multiple prescription drugs: Mixing prescriptions in people who self-medicate without medical opinion can cause a great danger of poisoning.

Polydrug use among adolescents

Unfortunately, adolescents are one of the social groups most likely to combine more than one drug at a time. Perhaps due to lack of information or experience, it seems that awareness of this type of act is not well established. According to some studies on the subject, it seems that 7 out of 10 young drug users used to combine different substances, usually with alcohol. Due to the young age, in which the nervous system is still in full development, the risk of falling into addiction or suffering from an overdose is much higher in these cases, so prevention and treatment of this is very important. types of behaviors in adolescents.

Death from overdose and polydrug use

Death from overdose occurs when a high amount of the drug reaches high levels in the blood of the affected person. Almost half of overdose deaths are caused by the use of more than one drug. A study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse in the United States found that the majority of people with serious addictions used more than one substance regularly. The Drug Enforcement Administration conducted an analysis to describe drug overdose-related deaths in Pennsylvania, concluding that more than 60% of overdose deaths commonly had a combination of opioids and benzodiazepines..

This graph shows a percentage of overdose deaths related to the use of more than one drug at the same time..

At the bottom of each bar you can see a different type of drug that has caused death by overdose of a specific number of people. In each of the bars, other drugs are shown that according to the analysis appear to have been combined with the former at the time of death. For example, the first bar refers to "cocaine" and in this we can see other drugs that have been combined with this substance in deceased people:

  • Alprazolam, commonly known as Xanax, was found in 67 cases
  • Clonazepam, was also found mixed with cocaine in 44 cases
  • Diazepam, like Valium, was found in 30 cases
  • Fentanyl was found in 52 cases
  • Heroin combined with cocaine was found in 231 cases, the highest percentage being
  • Methadone was found in 25 cases
  • Oxycodone was pulled in 37 cases

Polydrug use is a very dangerous practice that can cause dire consequences. If you or someone you know has a substance addiction problem, do not hesitate to consult a professional and seek help to find the path to recovery. Fortunately, many physical effects can be reversed over time by giving up these types of habits and leading a healthy and pleasant life..

Links of interest

  • Multiple Drug Abuse, Sue Birkenshaw. https://www.narcononojai.org/blog/multiple-drug-abuse-dangers.html
  • What Is Polydrug Use? https://www.addictioncenter.com/addiction/polydrug-use/
  • Polysubstance Use and Abuse: The Unique Treatment Needs of Polydrug Users. https://americanaddictioncenters.org/polysubstance-abuse

Yet No Comments