6 Quick Facts About Drug and Alcohol Cravings
From sugar to caffeine to opioids, anyone who has quit an addictive substance understands how tough it is to get through cravings.
A craving doesn’t sound that difficult to get through, but when you’re in it, it can be all encompassing and overwhelming.
Knowledge is power, so here’s some basic information on cravings to help you understand what’s happening in your body and mind when urge to drink, use, smoke, or grab a brownie hits.
- Cravings are a normal part of addiction recovery. They don’t mean that you are weak, going crazy, or doomed to fail. (Even though it can feel like all of those things when you’re in the middle of a craving.)
- Triggers bring on cravings. This is why Workit Health’s online addiction courses focus on understanding your own internal and external triggers, like environments, feelings, and situations, that might cause you to want to drink or use.
- Cravings are temporary. Although they can be entirely overwhelming in the moment, the moment will pass. How long do cravings last? Duration tends to vary, and science hasn’t been able to pin down exactly how long cravings last, because the sensations are usually self-reported. But everyone seems to agree that duration and strength of cravings can be influenced by environment (again, stay away from triggers!), time period since last use, and phase of addiction treatment.
- The less you use, the fewer cravings you’ll have. Cravings tend to be strongest in early addiction recovery. I’m in long-term recovery myself, and no longer have the cravings that plagued me in early recovery. So if you’re struggling now, remember making it through the short-term cravings today will help you find long-term peace in the future.
- Medications can help with cravings. You don’t have to sweat it out without help! Prescription medications can help with cravings for many substances, like alcohol and opioid addiction, so check with your doctor about what is available. Workit Health offers medication for opioid addiction in Michigan and California.
- Cravings can vary from person to person.Cravings are powerful, but often less understood than other aspects of addiction because they are subjective. Dr. Xiaosi Gu, a cravings researcher, explains in Science Daily, “Even after an individual has broken the cycle of compulsive drug taking, craving can still persist.
Although current treatment can handle a lot of the behavioral aspects of addiction, especially physical symptoms, craving is difficult to treat because it is a subject state. For example, when you are hungry, you have the urge to eat, but it is difficult to measure how compelling your urge to eat is in a quantitative way.” This could explain why tools like craving logs and other trackers can be effective in recovery, as self-monitoring helps to better quantify and understand these individual and largely private experiences.
So how can you get through a craving right now? Hopefully reading through those six craving facts helped the craving fade just a little bit.
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