Data from a Washington-based medication-assisted treatment (MAT) provider Ideal Option shows that 61% of patients may need treatment for two or more drugs. Often, this is because of fentanyl, which has become a practically ubiquitous drug, especially for opioid users. When people accidentally ingest fentanyl, they may overdose. If they live or have a “good” experience, they may become addicted to fentanyl and their drug of choice.

“In 2022, over half of all patients tested positive for two or more substances at enrollment, and 27% tested positive for three or more substances,” Tim Kilgallon, CEO of a treatment center named Ideal Option, stated in a news release.

What Is Polysubstance Addiction and How Common is It?

Polysubstance addiction refers to when a person becomes dependent on multiple substances simultaneously. These substances can include drugs, alcohol, prescription medications, or any combination of mood-altering substances. Polysubstance addiction is a complex and challenging disorder involving multiple substances with varying effects and interactions.

Polysubstance addiction is considered to be a common issue. Many individuals who struggle with substance abuse often use multiple substances to achieve different effects or to enhance the desired high.

When people detox from multiple substances, the withdrawal symptoms can be intense.

Fentanyl and Polysubstance Addiction

People who become addicted to fentanyl and multiple substances probably didn’t do so on purpose.

Fentanyl has become a common additive to blue pills sold as Oxycontin, as well as drugs like heroin, cocaine, and other addictive drugs. People who use these drugs often end up addicted to both substances.

Many patients that seek treatment for opioid use disorder also suffer from polysubstance abuse and need to get treatment for both substances to keep their addiction in check.

How Do People Get Sober from Multiple Substances?

The treatment for polysubstance addiction typically involves a comprehensive approach that addresses a person’s physical, psychological, and social needs. The following are common treatment strategies:

  • Detox: In cases of severe addiction, medical detox may be necessary to manage withdrawal symptoms and ensure safety and comfort.
  • Inpatient or outpatient rehab: Depending on the severity of the addiction, individuals may participate in residential or outpatient treatment programs. These programs offer therapy, counseling, support groups, and addiction and relapse prevention education.
  • Therapy: Various therapeutic approaches, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and motivational interviewing, can help individuals understand their substance use disorder and help them achieve lasting recovery.
  • Medication-assisted treatment (MAT): For certain substance dependencies, medications may be used as part of the treatment plan to alleviate withdrawal symptoms, reduce cravings, or block the effects of certain substances.
  • Support groups and aftercare: Participation in support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) can provide ongoing support in maintaining sobriety.

Fentanyl is a potent and dangerous drug, and fentanyl use is often a factor in drug overdoses. People who have opioid use disorder can achieve recovery. MAT, which has both medication and therapy, is considered the gold standard in opioid use disorder, which is one thing that people who use fentanyl regularly would qualify for.

Polysubstance Addiction Is Dangerous

Polysubstance addiction increases the risk of overdose. People who take a drug that’s mixed with xylazine and fentanyl, called “tranq dope”, are at higher risk for overdose. That’s because xylazine is a sedative. Paramedics often have trouble reviving tranq dope users from overdoses because Naloxone, their standard go-to, doesn’t work with sedatives and other non-opioid drugs.

People who get sober from fentanyl alongside other substances are at risk for more intense withdrawal symptoms and cravings. It’s important that all opioid users detox in a professional setting so that they stay safe from harm and have medical guidance.