What is a Multi-Substance Drug Addiction?

What is a Multi-Substance Drug Addiction?Multi-substance drug addiction, also called polydrug addiction, is a dependence on two or more drugs, used either separately or together. Multi-substance addiction typically includes opioids and cocaine, alcohol and marijuana, or a mixture of prescription pills with alcohol. The combinations are seemingly endless, and frequently deadly.

When we abuse one mind-altering substance, we often tend to abuse other drugs as well. The statistical increase of such abuse is well documented by treatment centers, hospitals, national surveys, and other research. We typically combine two or more drugs to get a more intense high and to enhance the effects of each drug. Older Americans are more likely to have multi-drug addictions, and suffer a higher incidence of co-occurring anxiety, depression, and other psychiatric disorders than addicts who use just one substance.

Treatment for multi-drug addiction is complicated. Inpatient treatment is usually preferred over outpatient care, due to the compounded medical risks we face. A sound treatment plan will take a number of factors into consideration:

  • Duration of addiction.
  • The type of each addictive substance.
  • Co-occurring mental disorders.
  • Physical health.
  • Social support network.
  • Willingness to enter treatment.
  • Plans for aftercare.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse outlines four phases of treatment for addiction. The first phase, treatment initiation, is the beginning of detox, in which our initial withdrawal symptoms are alleviated. In phase two, early abstinence, we continue to suffer from cravings and dependence, while beginning to learn about our addiction, as well as coping skills to avoid relapsing. Phase three, maintaining abstinence, begins after 90 days of being drug-free; by this time, we have transitioned from inpatient to outpatient care. Phase four, advanced recovery, takes place after five years of complete abstinence.

When we decide to enter treatment, we find that recovering from a multi-substance addiction is a difficult road. Relapse poses added problems, since we may resist the idea of abstaining from all of our addictive substances. We might think, for instance, that as long as we give up opioids and alcohol, we can still smoke pot safely. This is a dangerous rationalization. As long as we continue to use any mind-altering substance, we lose our sobriety and compromise our chances for complete recovery. The challenges we face are many, but the rewards we gain are priceless.  


When you are choosing a private residential treatment program, choose the program that focuses on personalized care, the greatest luxury accommodations, and has the highest accreditations. Harmony Place offers a full continuum of treatment options from detox to transitional living encouraging recovery for a lifetime. For a private consultation and more information, call us today: 1-888-789-4330