New treatments, and even learning things about addiction that were always present, but doctors and scientists had not yet discovered it. I myself just heard of, and began learning about a component of addiction that I either did not notice, or I may had not realized how much deeper it is. That, new thing I learned of my readers, is called, Polysubstance Abuse. You’ll read about it, in a moment.
Whether it’s therapists, doctors, addicts, or society. Progress is slowly being made on the acceptance of facts that prove, addiction is much more than just a few bad decisions. Like it or not, addiction is a disease.
Over the past several months, I too even came to learn a few new things. One of the biggest conclusions I have drawn recently is addiction is not about the specific Substance of the addiction.
The behaviours, the biology, psychology, health effects, quality of life affects, and effects on personal lives are almost always quite similar. Whether you are injecting heroin, snorting cocaine, or gambling your paycheck away.
Addiction is a disease, and encompasses very similar results from substance to substance. Just ask the alcoholic who quit alcohol, and is now addicted to food and facing obesity.
Long past should be the days, where so and so says that a coke head is more a scumbag then an alcoholic. Or a gambling addict isn’t as bad as popping pills all day.
Reality is one clear thing; Addiction.
That brings me to a term that I recently learned about. Apparently, the words definition is something that I’ve done endless amounts of time.
I just never knew that there was a term for it. It is actually two words, yet for the most part they are one in the same. I’m talking about Poly addiction and or Polysubstance abuse.
Merriam Webster’s official definition for polysubstance is- “a group of substances used often indiscriminately by a substance abuser has a polysubstance dependence problem. A type of substance dependence disorder in which an individual uses multiple different classes of substances indiscriminately and does not have a favorite drug that qualifies for dependence on its own.
To some, that may sound more complex than stereo instructions. But I can summarize it, and keep it simple. Afterall, I have personal experience as I myself had to face that dark world of poly addictions and Polysubstance Abuse.
I have no intention to dig up old personal war stories about it. I just want to bring awareness to it. There’s a statement I make often, and my words only provide more credibility to the existence of poly addictions and polysubstance abuse. I’ll say it again now, addiction is a disease, and is based on behaviours and feelings. It is not about which specific substance.
Ones may say that certain substances make you feel different, make you eat more. Eat less. Talk more. Isolate more. Is cruel, or extra loving. All of that sounds a bit erratic and is sheer nonsense.
Addiction is something going on in the brain. It’s that quest to numb the mind, the feelings, the hurt. It is a temporary way to step out of yourself, and not care or feel a damn thing. So, that is why, it is not about which substance, drug being abused. And it’s not about behaviour. It is not even always about a physical substance like drugs and alcohol.
I’ve known of many, who quit cocaine, or opioids, and the soon became out of control gambling addicts. Losing entire paychecks, missing mortgage payments, or getting loans in shady ways.
It’s the burning desire to immediately feed the addiction. It’s what they call Instant Gratification. I’ve also known of alcoholics who quit drinking, but then one year later, they went from 180 lbs to 301 lbs. In that obvious example, controlling eating is the struggle. The feeling of overeating, helps you find another way to get out of your head. So, we can confidently state that addiction follows not one vice.
Addiction is addiction.
One big general overall unhappiness with their sober selves. Living a totally completely self loathing life. A dislike for one’s real self, and a false feeling that nobody likes the real you.
Addiction, and the vice that it holds, covers feelings & emotions. And how the behaviour makes you feel. It’s not full focused on one substance.
There is a rare few times that it would matter what specific substance, or out of control behaviour is being used/going on. That would be at the very beginning of sobriety.
Step one of sobriety is the time for getting medically detoxed, and a bit clear headed. Helping you feel at least a bit better before the detox period. In my experience that process can range from 5 days to 2 weeks.
When it’s done it’s time for the next step of rehabilitation. Medical reasons are why that information would needed. Because there are different protocols for detoxing people from certain things.
Certain medications are needed for certain addicting substances. There are so many different processes doctors use when detoxing an addict. Probably a lot that I’m not even aware of.
That is why I’ll say that further information or questions should be addressed or discussed with an MD Doctor.
Replacing one addiction for another is like driving a car at 100mph head on towards a brick wall, with no brakes. There just is not good cause long term with this type of behaviour.
Many times, I have been forced back to square one. A case of multiple rock bottoms.
Be mindful when you have found sobriety. An awareness of any developing behaviours that are getting hard to control, are better defeated if attacked immediately.
The Dark Reality Of Polysubstance Abuse was originally published in The Ascent on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.