Home » Drug Addiction: Opioid Overdoses Connected to Use of Multiple Drugs

Drug addiction has challenged many communities and states across the nation. Recent studies are casting more light on the more lethal aspects of addiction. Research indicates that deaths from opioid overdoses among teenagers and young adults usually involves the use of multiple drugs.

To better understand the nature of opioid addiction, a brief discussion about the history of the substance is helpful.

The Evolution from Opiate to Opioids:

Opiates where the original substance that was used by people for many centuries. This naturally occurring substance is harvested from the poppy plant. In more recent times, this naturally occurring opiate was turned into a potent pain-drugs. Again, deriving from the poppy plant, a few of these more well-known substances include opium, morphine and codeine. However, all of these mentioned effective pain-relieving substances were also highly-addictive.

By the 20th century researchers had discovered how to synthesize the pain-reducing abilities of opiates in the lab. At the point opiates had evolved into opioids. These more recently invented substances were developed from molecules in a laboratory setting. The impact of opioids on the body is similar to the original opiates.

The molecules bind to receptors in the brain and reduce the sensation of pain. Because they provide effective pain relief, these substances are used to relieve short-term and chronic long-term pain. However, because of this relief, these substances are also used for recreational purposes.

Common opioid substances include heroin, fentanyl and carfentanil. A few common prescription opioids include hydrocodone and oxycodone.

Using Multiple Substances and Opioid Overdoses:

Research from JAMA Pediatrics indicate that there is correlation between deaths from opioid overdoses and the use of multiple substances. This means that opioids are not the only substance that is used during these tragic situations. The use of multiple substances increases the risk of death from a drug overdose.

The study found that the most common illicit substance used with opioids were stimulants like cocaine. This was the conclusion for the target population in the study, which were teenagers and young adults between the ages of 13 and 25. On a disturbing note, researchers found that the rate of deaths from overdoses greatly increased between the years of 1999 to 2018. During this time period, opioid overdoses by over 300%.

This sobering statistic displays the fact that individuals may substance use disorders that are co-occurring. The addiction to more than one substance means that behavioral health professionals need to simultaneously treat multiple addictions. Otherwise, long-term recovery is more challenging to achieve and maintain.


People may have started using illicit substances like opioids in order to self-medicate an undiagnosed mental health disorder. For example, individuals who are experiencing depressions may feel embarrassed or ashamed to seek professional help. As a mental health condition, chronic depression is one of the more common mental illnesses.

However, only one-third of people living with depression seek professional psychiatric help. Instead, in order to find a remedy for their depression symptoms; people may start to self-medicate with substances like stimulants, opioids or alcohol. There are many reasons as to why people choose of self-medicate. People want to feel better. However, these substances are not a cure.

Co-occurring addictions are a complex interaction of thoughts, feelings and chemical substances. There is not one easy answer to the problem. However, seeking experienced professional help is a good place to start. Otherwise, there are a few general signs of substance use disorder that people can watch for:

  • Engaging in risky behaviors.
  • Withdrawal from friends and family.
  • Sudden changes in personal behavior.
  • Unable to control the use of substances.
  • Must have the substance in order to feel normal.

Treatment and Recovery:

Drug addiction, or substance use disorder, creates dangerous and complex health issues. Everyone is not affected in the way with substance use disorders. A fact that makes the disorder even more challenging to treat. Drug addiction is a problem in many families and communities. But, there are viable treatment options that allow people to recovery from substance abuse.

Medication-assisted treatment or MAT is a well-documented and effective treatment approach. MAT programs use FDA-approved medications that target the brain’s chemistry. These prescribed medications normalize brain functions and disrupt the harmful effects of substances like opioids and alcohol. The normalizing of the brain’s chemistry reduces the desire for the substance.

The chain of addiction is broken and people are able to recover from their substance use disorder. The physiological desire for the substance is reduced which makes it easier for an individual to return to normal.

A professional MAT program will provide treatment for the substance abuse as well as therapy for the other underlying mental illnesses like PTSD or severe feelings of uncontrollable anxiety. The organized and multi-therapeutic approach of MAT programs provides a better chance for a sustained, healthy recovery.

About Emerald Psychiatry & TMS Center:

The successful treatment of drug and alcohol addiction is one of the specialties at Emerald Psychiatry & TMS Center. Their behavioral health center is focused on providing professional and effective therapies. Addiction recovery is only one of the treatment services that they provide.

For more detailed information at their available therapies and treatment options, their office can be reached by phone at 614-580-6917. They can also be reached by email. Emerald Psychiatry & TMS Center is proud to provide behavioral and mental health services for residents of Central Ohio. 

Follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter:

#OhioPsychiarty  #MentalHealth  #DepressionTreatments

#EmeraldPsychiatry  #ColumbusTMS  #DublinTMS  #WestervilleTMS

#OhioPsychiarty  #TMS

Contributor: ABCS RCM