Polysubstance Use: Alcohol and Meth

Unfortunately, polysubstance use is quite common among individuals who suffer from a substance use disorder or alcohol use disorder. Once an individual develops an addiction to one substance, it can be easy to develop the same dependence to another substance. This could be caused by the desire to create a stronger effect of using a drug, or it could be caused by an attempt to taper off a different drug. In either instance, using multiple mind-altering substances concurrently can create a dangerous situation. One commonly known substance combination is the usage of stimulant drugs and sedative drugs: specifically, alcohol and methamphetamine (meth).

A metal clipboard contains papers about the polysubstance use of alcohol and meth, surrounded by pill tablets, a syringe, and a stethoscope.

In fact, mixing alcohol with other stimulant substances such as meth has become increasingly popular leading to alcohol addiction, polydrug abuse, overdose and even death. Research has shown this popular combination of substances gives users a more desired effect of intense euphoria than using meth or alcohol alone. When both meth and alcohol is consumed, the alcohol has the potential to inhibit or disrupt the metabolism of meth, which results in an increased stimulating effect of meth on the body over a longer period of time. However, because the body is unable to process both substances at the same time, meth users end up binging on more alcohol because they are unable to feel the effects. This eventually leads to high alcohol tolerance, alcohol toxicity and alcohol poisoning.

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Alcohol is what is known as a central nervous system depressant. These types of substances slow down brain activity making the user feel calm and relaxed. Because alcohol is a legal substance which is readily and easily accessible, many people believe it is not an addictive substance and is not as dangerous as other illicit substances. Unfortunately, alcohol is actually one of the most addictive substances among adults ages 12 and over in the United States.

Meth is a classification of drugs known as stimulants. Stimulant substances increase brain activity causing high energy and increased dopamine, the neurotransmitter that controls feelings of pleasure and relaxation. Often manufactured in pill or powder form, meth users can be easily detected through the drastic side effects on an individual. This includes rapid weight loss, extreme dental decay, skin peeling and scarring and erratic and psychotic behaviors.

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Both substances alone are highly addictive. Users develop a high tolerance for both substances and begin depending on the combination to give them the desired effect. When combined, these drugs can cause concerning physical and psychological symptoms such as increased anxiety, poor coordination, high alcohol tolerance and inability to control their drinking habits, frequent blackouts and increased social isolation. Concurrent usage of alcohol and meth can also cause a disruption in memory retention and the learning process. It can hinder logical decision-making, thinking process and neurological capabilities. This ultimately leads to the development of co-occurring mental health conditions.

For individuals suffering from an addiction to both alcohol and meth, treatment and recovery is possible with the help of a professional drug and alcohol addiction recovery provider. Hotel California by the Sea is one of the country’s premiere programs for overcoming substance and alcohol addiction. The behavioral health provider specializes in co-occurring mental health conditions and offers unique and effective therapies such as EMDR therapy and marriage and family counseling. Clients at this drug and alcohol rehab program have options ranging from medically managed detox, inpatient residential treatments as well as an intensive outpatient program. Hotel California by the Sea offers a multitude of social development services for all clients as part of their mission to treat the whole person, whether it is through physical support, psychological support, or social support.