People sometimes mix substances together for a number of reasons. They might be taking several prescription medications that a doctor ordered, but they may use a larger or more frequent dose than the medication recommends. They might use one illegal drug, and then use other drugs after the first drug lowers their inhibitions. Or, they might simply want to experiment with different drugs to see what happens. But, regardless of the person’s reason for mixing several substances, the consequences of doing so can be life-threatening. Many people don’t realize that combining several substances together multiplies the dangers of substance abuse, but the fact is that abusing many drugs can cause serious and negative problems.
Statistics on Combining Drugs
The 2012 National Survey on Drug Use found that millions of people each year use more than one substance at the same time. Specifically, the survey reported the following statistics regarding combining substances:
- 16.2 percent of illegal drug users had used marijuana along with one or more drugs
- A third of the 17 million people who identified themselves as heavy alcohol drinkers were also currently using illegal drugs
- Almost a quarter of the 57.5 million people who were current cigarette smokers had used an illegal drug in the previous month
In other words, many people combine drugs.
Side Effects of Abusing Multiple Substances
When someone mixes two or more substances together, he might experience many different problems. Some common side effects of individual substances include changes in the following areas:
- Heart rate
- Blood pressure
- Appetite and digestion
These effects can vary from mild to severe, but they often intensify when people use multiple substances at one time. For example, the relaxing effects of alcohol increase when people consume it along with a prescription sedative; also, stimulants can increase a person’s heart rate to dangerous levels when combined. The problem with these symptoms is that they are unpredictable, and even more so when people use multiple substances at once. Furthermore, users may have different reactions to the same substances every time they use. Just because someone had a positive experience in the past from using two or more substances together does not guarantee that her next experience will be the same. On the contrary, the more often people combine substances, the more likely it is that they will cause long-term damage to their mental and physical health.
The biggest danger of combining two or more substances is the increased risk of overdose and death. These problems can occur from any combination of substance abuse, but the odds increase when people mix prescription drugs, illegal drugs and/or large amounts of alcohol together. Although some people may think that prescription drugs are safe to use because they are regulated by the government, the truth is that they can be devastating when abused, which means used outside of a doctor’s recommendations. As the National Institute on Drug Abuse explains, opioid medications lead to more deaths from overdoses than all other drugs combined, including heroin and cocaine. Both legal and illegal substances have the potential to cause overdose, and combining them together increases this potential. Seek help to quit using these powerful substances.
Find Help for Substance Abuse
Substance abuse is dangerous, no matter how infrequently or at what dosage a drug is used. Every time someone abuses a substance, they run the risk of causing permanent damage to their mind and body. Combining two or more substances together only increases this risk, so if you or someone you care about abuses multiple substances, please call us at 615-490-9376. Our admissions coordinators are available to answer your questions and help you find addiction treatment that fits your individual needs.