Many parents trying to understand their young person’s drug or alcohol abuse must learn about new terms and behaviours as part of the whole family’s journey to recovery. One such term is polysubstance abuse, a behaviour in which your loved one abuses multiple substances.
What is polysubstance abuse and why do young people start engaging in this type of behaviour? Is special treatment required for this type of drug use? What drug and alcohol assessments will they have to participate in? Learn more about this condition and what your loved one needs to do to turn their life around.
What is Polysubstance Abuse?
Polysubstance abuse relates more to your teen or young adult’s desire to be high, versus preference for one particular type of drug. In essence, they use at least three different types of substances as part of this destructive behaviour.
Alcohol is usually one of the three substances abused in what many people also call “polydrug abuse.” Typical combinations of substances in this condition include alcohol, cocaine, and opioids. For others, any mix of opiates, inhalants, marijuana, amphetamines, benzos or hallucinogens may combine during a period of ongoing substance abuse.
What many parents fail to realize is that young people have access to a wide range of drugs for polysubstance abuse, including alcohol, illegal drugs, and prescription medications. Even prescriptions can play a role in polysubstance abuse. Typically misused prescription medications include those prescribed for physical or emotional problems, such as ADHD, injury pain, colds or anxiety.
Understanding Your Teen or Young Adult’s Polysubstance Drug Use
Diagnosing polysubstance drug use can take time, particularly for teens who rarely want to fully admit their behaviours upon entry to substance abuse treatment. Such a diagnosis also requires some criteria to be met, such as suffering at least three key symptoms from a standard list of diagnostic criteria. These symptoms include:
- Lost control over drug use
- Inability to stop abusing drugs
- Tolerance to their substances
- Withdrawal symptoms
- Interference with life activities
- Lost time to drug-seeking, using and recovering
- Continued use despite the harm it causes
Polysubstance drug use is not necessarily dependent on multiple drugs at once. It is more dependence on the use of a mix of substances in the effort to keep getting high. Teens frequently suffer this type of substance abuse due to their lack of exposure to one type of drug over an extended period of time.
Treatment for Your Teen’s Polysubstance Drug Use
Finding out your teen uses more than one type of drug is frightening. But treatment is available for these problems and other behaviours your family struggles with on an ongoing basis. In fact, you likely suffer a wide range of behavioural problems in your household, such as lying, anger, disrespect, disorder, sexual activity, substance abuse, and electronic overuse. Programs designed to help your teen get back on track for a happier, healthier and more productive life include:
- Teen residential treatment program
- 30 Day Assessment and Intervention
- Teen trauma treatment
- Family therapy
- Individual counselling
- Academic recovery during treatment
- Boot camp
Polysubstance abuse usually occurs with a wide range of other behavioural problems in teens and young adults. But this type of substance use and associated issues do not need to destroy your family’s ongoing health and happiness. You can bring your family back together in better health and for a brighter future, through treatment designed specifically for young people up to age 25. Call Venture Academy in Alberta, British Columbia, and Ontario today at 866.762.2211 to learn more about treatment for troubled teens and young adults.