Dependency can manifest in many forms, but two of the most abused substances are opioids and alcohol, which are both highly addictive and, for many, can result in severe physical and psychological addiction. However, identifying the signs and symptoms of opioid and alcohol dependence can be challenging. Several clear signs exist as potential warnings of addiction, including but not limited to drastic changes in behavior, appearance, and finances.
Addiction is a complex disease affecting millions of people globally. According to statistics by the National Center for Drug Abuse, in 2021, roughly 140 million Americans over twelve years old drink alcohol, with over 28 million having alcohol use disorder. Over 24% of Americans struggling with drug use have an opioid disorder. This data shows just how prominent and far-reaching the effects of substance abuse can be.
Seeking professional help is critical if you or someone close is experiencing symptoms of opioid and alcohol dependence because addiction often gets worse. However, recognizing addictive behaviors is the first step towards facing addiction and finding a path to recovery from the destruction it all too often brings. So, if you find yourself questioning your relationship with these substances or begin noticing warning signs, in that case, you may be falling into active addiction. But how do you know for sure? And what are the red flags to look out for?
In this informative blog post by MAT Care Clinics, we will take a closer look at the possible signs and symptoms of opioid and alcohol dependence, aiming to provide you with the knowledge you need to understand these difficult experiences. Furthermore, we will delve into the world of Medication-Assisted Therapy (MAT), exploring how it can effectively treat opioid and alcohol addiction for better outcomes, achieving long-term sobriety.
So, if you’re ready to understand your situation better and discover potential treatment options for substance use disorders, keep reading. For more information about MAT Care Clinics, click here or read our other addiction and recovery blogs.
Recognizing Addictive Behaviors: A Closer Look at the Signs & Symptoms of Opioid and Alcohol Dependence
Do I Have an Opioid Addiction?
If you’ve been using opioids for a prolonged period, whether by prescription or recreationally, you may be at risk of developing an addiction to these substances. Opioids are a class of drugs, including prescription medications typically prescribed for pain. Commonly abused opioids include oxycodone and hydrocodone and illegal substances like heroin, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
When taken for an extended period, opioids may cause physical and psychological dependence, making it challenging to stop using them on your own. If you’re experiencing any of the following signs and symptoms, it’s vital to seek help as soon as possible:
- Requiring larger doses of opioids to achieve the desirable effect
- Being unable to control, reduce, or stop your opioid use despite wanting to
- Spending more time attaining or using opioids
- Ruminating about drug use and displaying other drug-seeking behaviors
- Craving opioids when not using them
- Neglecting responsibilities or activities due to opioid use
- Continuing to use opioids despite knowing the harmful consequences.
Signs and Symptoms of Opioid Addiction
Aside from the general signs and symptoms mentioned above, there are specific behavioral and physical indicators of opioid addiction. These may include:
- Changes in mood or behavior, such as increases in irritability and agitation
- Isolating oneself from friends and family
- Poor decision-making or impulsivity
- Drowsiness or sedation
- Constricted pupils
- Nausea, vomiting, or constipation
Seeking support from healthcare providers or an addiction specialist is essential if you’re experiencing any of these signs and symptoms. These professionals can help assess your situation and provide you with a personalized treatment plan to discontinue use successfully.
Could I Have an Alcohol Use Disorder?
Like opioids, alcohol is also a widely abused substance with addictive properties. Still, it can be equally devasting because it’s widely accepted and legal to acquire. Excessive alcohol consumption can cause grave health problems and dependency, even if posed as celebratory or socially acceptable. If you’re unsure whether your drinking habits are problematic, considering the following questions may help:
- Have you tried to cut down or stop drinking but couldn’t?
- Do you experience withdrawal symptoms such as tremors, sweating, or anxiety when not drinking?
- Have you neglected responsibilities or activities due to drinking?
- Do you continue to drink despite knowing the negative consequences?
- Do you experience frequent hangers or blackouts?
What Are the Implications of Not Treating Opioid and Alcohol Dependence?
If left untreated, opioid and alcohol dependence can have serious consequences across many aspects of life, including:
- Physical issues such as organ damage or respiratory failure
- Mental health complications like depression, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts
- Strained relationships with family and friends
- Financial struggles due to the cost of obtaining drugs or alcohol
- Legal matters and potential incarceration
- Loss of employment or inability to maintain a job
It’s essential to seek help for opioid and alcohol dependence to prevent these consequences from occurring and start on the path toward recovery.
What Is MAT or Medication-Assisted Therapy?
MAT, short for Medication-Assisted Therapy, is a treatment approach that utilizes medications and sometimes behavioral therapies to treat opioid and alcohol addiction. It’s an evidence-based method that has shown success in helping individuals achieve long-term recovery. It is becoming an approach many utilize.
How Can MAT Treat Opioid and Alcohol Addiction?
MAT works by reducing cravings and withdrawal symptoms while promoting sobriety and preventing relapse. The medications used in MAT for opioid addiction may include Suboxone or Sublocade. These drugs work by either substituting the opioids with less harmful substances or blocking the impact of opioids on the brain.
For alcohol use disorder, medications such as Vivitrol or Naltrexone can help reduce cravings and deter alcohol consumption. For many, MAT, alongside other complementary treatment therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), aids the recovery process, leading to abstinence from substances long term and reduced risk of setbacks.
Accepting You May Need Help with Opioid and Alcohol Dependence
Accepting that you may have a problem with opioid or alcohol dependence can be challenging. The stigma surrounding addiction can bring up feelings of shame, guilt, or denial about use. However, acknowledging the issue and finding acceptance is the first step toward recovery. It takes courage to reach out for help and begin implementing productive changes in your life. Remember that addiction is a disease, not a personal failure, and seeking treatment is not a display of weakness.
Seeking Help for Addiction Is Better Sooner than Later
Addiction often has devastating effects on an individual’s life. Suppose you identify with any signs and symptoms discussed in this blog post. In that case, it’s crucial to seek help and address the underlying addiction. Remember that addiction is treatable, and there are various options available to manage this grueling experience, including MAT. Don’t be afraid to seek support, as it could be your first step towards a sober life free from the chains of addiction.
More About Our MAT Care Clinics
At MAT Care Clinics, we provide comprehensive and individualized treatment for opioid and alcohol addiction. Our team of healthcare professionals helps individuals overcome addiction and achieve long-term recovery. We offer various services, including medication-assisted therapy, using medications like the ones described in this blog to help each person on their unique journey towards healing in the Nashua, New Hampshire region.
So, call us today at (833) 622-0628, or contact us here and take the first step towards a healthier, more balanced you.
Recovery is possible, and it starts with seeking support and taking that first step towards change.