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Garbage Can Addicts – When Addicts Go to the Extreme

October 28, 2016 - - 0 Comments

Drug AddictsIf you have ever been to an addiction treatment center, you will know that most people identify to having one specific addiction.  One person might identify as an alcoholic, another as a heroin addict, a meth addict, a pill popper, a gambler. The list goes on and on. Someone in alcohol addiction treatment might have a second substance that they abused, like marijuana for example.  Most addicts have a favorite drug or substance of choice.

Then we come to the person that doesn’t care what they do, they just want to get high.  This person has a highly addictive nature and will do anything around or given to them.  They just don’t care.  If no common drugs are around, they will sometimes resort to “fringe” highs, like sniffing glue, or trying to take a common household medication is high quantities in an attempt to get high.  They will also mix drugs together to increase the high and the harmful effects are increased.  In mental health treatment centers, this type of person is known as a “garbage can addict” because they will do or try anything, at any time.  Clinically, this is known as poly-drug use.

Associated Increased Risk of Injury or Death

As with any alcohol or drug, the body eventually adapts.  It builds a tolerance and adjusts as needed to mitigate the dangerous chemicals infiltrating it.  However, instead of just managing one or 2 substances, the garbage can addict has to manage many, increasing the stress on the body and mind. Mixing any combination of drugs, illegal, legal, over the counter or otherwise is unpredictable and more dangerous than sticking to one or 2 different drugs.

Depending on the type of drugs mixed, the consequences can vary greatly.  Here are some common drug mixtures you might have heard of and their potential outcomes:

  1.  Stimulants and Alcohol – Alcohol relaxes you while a stimulant like meth, for example, keeps you awake.  This combo puts extra pressure on your heart, increasing the risk of a heart attack.
  2.  Heroin and Cocaine – Also known as a “speedball” this is similar to number one, but way more powerful.
  3.  Cocaine and Alcohol – Together these two substances can produce a dangerous poison in the body called cocaethylene, affecting your heart.

In many combinations, the effect of one drug can mask the effect of the other, making overdoses much more common in garbage can addicts.  According to the Harm Reduction Coalition, “most fatal overdoses are the result of poly-drug use”.  Sometimes, they work in conjunction with each other.  A good example of this is alcohol and heroin.  If a person already has alcohol in their system, a downer, heroin compounds the effect and less would be needed to overdose as opposed to heroin alone.  For more specific information about drug combinations, contact your local addiction treatment center.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 56.3% of all emergency room visits from 2004 to 2011 were due to drug abuse involving multiple drugs. and in May 2012, they reported on the profiles of drug-related deaths that occurred in 2010 in cities across the country.  In that study, they referenced Albuquerque, New Mexico which had the following data:

Heroin and prescription opiate-type drugs:  110 users died, only 20 were single-drug deaths.

Benzodiazepines (Valium, Xanax, and others):  54 users died, none were single-drug deaths.

Alcohol:  46 people died.  None were single-drug deaths.  Alcohol addiction treatment will teach you that alcohol affects your breathing, which is apparent here.


It’s no secret that humans have enjoyed getting high from the beginning of time, but there is recreation usage and then the garbage can addict.  Their pull toward getting high is stronger than a single use addict, with much higher stakes at hand.  Their lives.  They desperately need the help of mental health treatment center to get their addictions under control before it kills them.

His and Her Houses offers industry leading Addiction treatment programs. We were founded in 1994 and we base our programs on five key principles: commitment, honesty, integrity, respect, and service. These five principles guide us in all that we do and all the care we provide. Contact us today to see how we can help you or your love one at (888) 376-7268.

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