Drug Rehabilitation Blog

Dealing With Multiple Addictions

Is There Help for Those Dealing With Multiple Addictions?

The Center for Disease Control states that over the last ten years, the number of multiple drug addictions is on the increase. The CDC cites an increase of more than 20% in the illicit use of multiple prescription drugs, while the use of five or more drugs in general increased by 70%. These alarming statistics show us very plainly that not only do people have the capacity to be addicted to multiple drugs, but this is becoming a problem in its own right

What Is Multiple Addiction?

Dealing With Multiple Addictions
Help for Those Dealing With Multiple Addictions

People who are addicted to multiple addictions may fit a number of different criteria. For the most part, these criteria are closely linked to the kind of drugs they take. For example, a person may take both amphetamines and depressants in order to regulate their body. This is something that is very likely to happen for people who are dealing with prescription drugs.

On the other hand, you may find that some people have become addicted to nearly any substances that alter their natural brain chemistry. There are addicts who have stated that they drew very clear lines between the drugs that they would take and the drugs that they would never touch, all the time not realizing that sticking with a family of specific drugs was still a serious problem.

Being addicted to several substances is called “polysubstance dependence” in the DSM, and it generally involves an addiction to three or more drug families. The three most commonly cited include hallucinogens, depressants and stimulants.

Recognizing an Addiction to Multiple Drugs

Just like a person who tries a drug once is not necessarily an addict, a person who has tried multiple drugs over the course of their lives is not polysubstance addicted. Instead, the DSM states that for a person to be considered addicted to multiple substances, they must meet three of the following seven criteria:

  • You have have a high tolerance for your drug of choice.
  • You cannot stop using this drug.
  • Your drug use is interfering with your day to day life.
  • You spend a great deal of time using drugs or trying to get drugs.
  • You lose control of the amount of drugs you have taken.
  • You go into a physical withdrawal when you stop taking the drug.
  • You keep using the drug even after it has negative effects on your life and your emotional and physical health.

Is Treatment Possible?

If you or someone you love are dealing with an addiction to multiple substances, it is essential for you to remember that this is not something that is a hopeless situation. Though this situation can be dangerous to your health and your life, recovery is possible. The recovery options may be more complicated than the treatment for a single point drug addiction, but in many cases, the initial steps are the same.

One challenge is that many people try to hide one or more of the substances to which they are addicted. They may simply try to treat the addiction that is more “serious” neglecting the one that they think is milder, like marijuana or alcohol. The truth is that addictive behavior is addictive behavior, and even if the stimulus for one addiction is removed, an untreated addiction will still be affecting the chance for recovery.

Best Treatments for Multiple Addictions

Though there are many different treatment programs available and many different ways to solve this problem, most experts agree that inpatient care is one of the best options if it is possible. Inpatient care removes the person suffering from the addiction from the place where they are most vulnerable, and it provides them with both the physical and emotional care that might be necessary.

So many addicts have talked about using milder methods or going at it alone, and the result is that they can quit for short periods of time. The addiction has only been fought back, however, and without the rigor that is imposed by an inpatient program, they often slide back into bad habits.


Addiction recovery is something that is difficult, but even when you are dealing with multiple addictions, recovery is far from impossible. Consider your own life and what you need, and make sure that you take the steps to heal!

1 Comment

  • Amanda

    Dealing with a addiction is hard enough, but adding multiple addictions on top of that it can seem impossible. I really thought this article was so interesting because I did not know quite how that would be handled. I think it is interesting that you use the same steps as you do with someone who is addicted to one substance and that treatment is still totally possible! I do agree that inpatient is best any any scenario, but a person with multiple addictions I think really has a chance if they do inpatient surrounding and help.

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