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Topic 4 – Polysubstance Use

Topic Progress:

For the purpose of learning we separate substances into discrete categories to better understand their physiological effects, while in practice polysubstance use is the norm.

Examples of polysubstance use include ‘speed-balling’: using heroin and cocaine together in one shot, or using alcohol to reduce anxiety and agitation caused by cocaine.

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Case example:

Lisa, 32, has been out partying with her friends. Heavy drinking has led to snorting some lines of cocaine. She knows that she has to go to work in a few hours so she smokes some cannabis to ‘take the edge off’, or mitigate the symptoms of her post-acute intoxication.

Substances used together can increase the effect of both substances which can be dangerous when the substances depress the Central Nervous System (CNS). This can stop breathing and result in death (overdose).


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