Whether you’re coming off a long-term addiction problem or still at the early stages of drug use, recovering from opiate addiction entails learning to deal with everyday life without the need for the drug. While it may seem like a fairly straightforward process, the underlying mechanisms of drug abuse and addiction run deeper than most people suspect.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, once a person loses the ability to choose not to take drugs in spite of the negative consequences that result, the brain’s perceptions and thinking processes have changed at a fundamental level. In effect, recovering from opiate addiction means retraining thinking and behavior patterns.
Considering how alcohol shares certain key similarities with opiates, drinking during the course of the opiate recovery process only works to undo any progress made along the way.
Call our toll-free helpline at 800-442-6158 Who Answers? for information on opiate (or alcohol) addiction treatment options.
Similarities Between Alcohol and Opiates
With alcohol being so easy to come by, it should come as no surprise that alcohol addiction rates outnumber those of any other type of addictive substance. While you may not necessarily have a drinking problem, the mechanism of addiction for alcohol is no different than any other type of drug, including opiates.
According to the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, alcohol acts as a depressant, slowing brain chemical activities and eventually warping the brain’s chemical makeup over time. Opiates also produce depressant-type effects so the abuse and addiction potential for these two substances is similar.
This means, drinking while recovering from opiate addiction only works to reinforce the mechanism of addiction in a different way.
From Bad to Worse
Drinking while recovering from opiate addiction not only works against your recovery efforts, but can actually lay the groundwork for an alcohol addiction to take hold. Like opiates, alcohol overstimulates certain chemical process in the brain.
Over time, these changes start to “rewire” the brain’s communication network, which is the same thing that happens during the course of a developing opiate addiction.
In the presence of a growing alcohol abuse disorder, it becomes that much easier to relapse back into opiate abuse. Before long, a person ends up dealing with two forms of addiction instead of just the one.
Addiction, in any form, most affects the way a person thinks more than anything else. For this reason, the “urge” to replace one form of addiction with another can be overwhelming, especially during the early stages of recovery.
If you’re struggling with alcohol cravings while recovering from opiate addiction, this may be a sign that a more intensive level of treatment is needed to help you overcome addiction’s effects in your life. So someone who’s currently in an outpatient program may actually require the added structure and supports provided through residential treatment or even inpatient care.
Ultimately, finding the level of care that best meets your treatment needs offers you the best chance of overcoming the effects of addiction in your life. Please don’t hesitate to call our toll-free helpline at 800-442-6158 Who Answers? for information on available treatment options.