Trends in drug abuse come and go just like the trends in fashion or automobiles or music.  Keeping in step with the current fads is okay in most cases. But, when it comes to following the fad of taking polydrug combinations to get high, people are putting their lives at risk.  Mixing different drugs or taking one drug while still under the influence of another drug is known as polydrug use. For instance, one of the polydrug combinations that have taken thousands of lives is the heroin/fentanyl mix.

Why Mix Drugs to Get High?  Isn’t One Enough?

One reason why people mix drugs to get high is that they think everyone else is doing it and it’s the new fad.  Following the crowd can be a path to death with many of the potent substances being abused today.

Other reasons for participating in this dangerous behavior can include:

  • Some people mix drugs and alcohol because “it seemed like a good idea at the time.”  More than likely, they were already high or feeling some effects of another substance and not thinking clearly.
  • They use one drug to counteract the effects of another.  For instance, using cannabis or sleeping pills to reduce the effects of ecstasy.
  • Sometimes their drug of choice isn’t available, so they substitute with one they aren’t familiar with and can suffer adverse effects.
  • Many people mix drugs to enhance the effects.  For instance, they will smoke cigarettes while using ecstasy, or drink alcohol while using cocaine.
  • They are trying to manage withdrawal symptoms when trying to cut down on a substance.  Someone who is trying to stop using meth will substitute alcohol to help minimize the withdrawals.  Before long, they are addicted to alcohol and probably haven’t completely quit using meth, so now they have to addictions to handle.

Whatever excuses they make for polydrug use, none of them are a justification for putting their lives in jeopardy this way.

What are the Dangers of Polydrug Combinations?

No one can accurately predict how a person will react to a specific drug.  Many factors come into play that makes each person have their own unique experience.  On the other hand, someone may be accustomed to how they react to cocaine. And, they may have used marijuana or alcohol at some point. But, the effects of using these drugs separately is entirely different from combining two or more of them.

Some of the factors that can make polydrug abuse so unpredictable are:

  • The setting or environment and the people involved.
  • The person’s mood, expectations, personality, and risk-taking behavior.
  • The purity of the drug, frequency of use, a method of ingestion, and whether the drug is laced with something else.

It’s also important to mention that mixing two drugs that have similar effects can cause an overdose. For instance, mixing two or more stimulants or two or more depressants can be extremely dangerous.

What Are Some of the Worst Polydrug Combinations?

Ultimately, mixing drugs will result in serious health consequences. But, some are far more dangerous than others.

Here are a few of those combinations and their effects:


Stimulants increase activity in the central nervous system which controls all activities of the body. Combining different stimulants can cause heart problems, psychosis, and increased anxiety or paranoia. Some of the most commonly abused stimulants include cocaine, caffeine, meth, and ADHD meds.  Also, some drugs that produce stimulant type effects include entactogens such as MDMA (ecstasy). Another effect of combining stimulants is known as serotonin syndrome. This effect occurs because the brain becomes overloaded with serotonin causing increased life-threatening risk of coma and seizures.


Depressants decrease the level of activity in the central nervous system.  These drugs slow the heart rate and breathing rate and can quickly cause an overdose.  Not all overdoses end in death. Non-fatal overdose can leave life-altering damages, however.  Drugs that are considered depressants include alcohol, heroin, ketamine, GHB, opioids, and benzodiazepines.

Stimulants and Depressants Combined

Combining “uppers” and “downers” is dangerous behavior.  For instance, mixing meth and alcohol puts an increased strain on the heart, leading to severe complications.  Mixing cocaine and alcohol causes a toxic chemical known as cocaethylene and can have fatal consequences.  Combining cannabis and tobacco increases the exposure to tar and carbon monoxide, increase the chance of lung infections, bronchitis, and cancer.

Prescription Medications

Serious adverse reactions can occur when using prescription medicines with other drugs.  For instance, using sedative medications with alcohol can result in overdose.  Using stimulant medications with other stimulants can increase anxiety and panic attacks, psychosis, and heart problems.

Sometimes these trends in polydrug abuse are influenced by the availability or cost of a specific substance.  Also, legislative changes can result in people switching drugs or trying different combinations because the changed compound brings different effects for the user.  In many cases, a person is merely looking for a more intense high. In other cases, a person purchases a deadly polydrug without realizing it, such as heroin laced with fentanyl.  No matter the reason, combining drugs is a growing trend across the nation today, and many lives are being destroyed or ended as a result.

Find Help for Addiction at New Beginnings

If you or someone you love is having trouble overcoming addiction to any drug, please contact us at New Beginnings today.  We will be happy to recommend a treatment program that is right for you. Also, if you want more information about polydrug combinations, a member of our knowledgeable staff can answer any questions you may have.