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How to Treat Addiction to Multiple Substances

Addicted to More than One Drug or AlcoholAddiction is a complex but treatable disease characterized by compulsive seeking of mind-altering substances in spite of negative consequences. An individual can be dependent on a single substance such as cocaine, heroin or alcohol, or they can be dependent on multiple substances.

There’s no cure for drug addiction, and problems with addiction, also known as substance use disorder, range from mild to severe. Determining the best treatment plan depends on a variety of factors, including what substances have been abused and for how long, how many different types of substances have been misused habitually and whether there are co-occurring mental health challenges.

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Polysubstance Dependence

Many people are dependent on a particular substance such as alcohol or opioids. Others are dependent on more than one substance at the same time, but are still compelled to use particular substances. Polysubstance dependence is dependence on three or more substances without having a preferred drug of choice. This type of dependence is actually dependence on the state of being intoxicated rather than on any particular substance.

When you’re addicted to a single substance, such as heroin, you’re compelled to keep using that substance, especially as a method of avoiding withdrawal symptoms. If you have polysubstance dependence, you use multiple substances indiscriminately.

The Use of Multiple Substances

The diagnosis of polysubstance dependence was included in the DSM-4 but removed from the DSM-5. This doesn’t mean that the problem of addiction to getting high in general doesn’t exist but that it isn’t necessary to consider it as a separate diagnosis in order to treat it. Polysubstance dependence is now considered to fall under the broad definition of substance use disorder.

For professionals in the field of addiction recovery, treatment of substance use disorder has to be tailored to each individual.  Breaking the cycle of addiction to multiple substances can be done using various approaches, including inpatient, residential and outpatient treatment programs.

Inpatient or Residential Treatment Programs

Treating addiction to multiple substances is often done on an inpatient basis, which offers a safe environment for detoxifying from all substances while under medical supervision. It also gives you a chance to be separated from people or environments that may tempt you to use in the early days and weeks of recovery.

While you are in an inpatient or residential treatment facility, you will begin to learn new coping skills for dealing with the stresses of daily life without turning to mind-altering substances. A variety of treatment approaches may be used, including individual therapy, group therapy and medication if needed.  Long-term programs are available for those who have a criminal history or a diagnosis of co-occurring mental illness.

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient treatment for substance abuse may be an option if your addiction is mild and you’re very motivated to stop misusing substances. It may also be recommended after you have gone through inpatient treatment. Obtaining treatment on an outpatient basis includes attending therapy and support groups. This approach allows you to continue working and caring for your family.

For many people, addiction to multiple substances includes addiction to alcohol. Going through alcohol detoxification without medical supervision can be extremely dangerous and even life-threatening. You may need to consider inpatient treatment while you go through detoxification.

Determining the Right Substance Abuse Treatment for You

While many people think they can stop using substances any time they want, the nature of addiction is that you are compelled to keep using substances in spite of harmful consequences.  Recovering from addiction to multiple substances starts with recognizing that you have a problem that you can’t solve on your own and becoming willing to do something about it.

Once you’ve made this decision, your family doctor or therapist can help you choose a treatment facility. It’s possible to learn to live a good life that doesn’t include reliance on substances.

If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, please call us at (866) 339-3544 or submit the form below to learn more about our alcohol addiction treatment programs in Los Angeles.

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