Polysubstance Use (Mixing Drugs)

What is Polysubstance Use?

The use of more than one drug, also known as polysubstance use, is common. This includes when two or more are taken together or within a short time, either intentionally or unintentionally.

Mixing Stimulants

Stimulants (e.g. cocaine, ecstasy) can increase your heart rate and blood pressure to dangerous levels and increase your risk of several serious health problems (e.g. brain injury, liver damage). Stimulants are sometimes called uppers.

Mixing Depressants

Depressants (e.g. opioids, benzodiazepines) can slow down your breathing and increase your risk of several adverse health outcomes (e.g. organ damage, overdose, death). Depressants are also called downers.

Mixing Stimulants and Depressants

Mixing stimulants and depressants doesn’t balance or cancel them out. In fact, the results of combining drugs are unpredictable, often modifying or even masking the effects of one or both drugs. This may trick you into thinking that the drugs are not affecting you, making it easier to overdose.

Drinking Alcohol While Using Other Drugs

Drinking alcohol while using other drugs isn’t safe. Alcohol is a depressant with similar effects to other downers. Mixing alcohol with other drugs can increase your risk of overdose and serious damage to the brain, heart, and other organs.


Page last updated 2/22/23