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What Are Cravings, Drug Cravings in Recovery, some of the most effective strategies available to manage those cravings.

What Are Cravings, and Why Do You Have Them?

By on Feb 16, 2024 in Addiction Recovery, Blog

No matter how hard you try, sometimes it’s impossible to think about anything but the drug you know you need to get through the day. Cravings are intense desires to use a substance, and they won’t go away without hands-on support and a change in behavior. The intensity of cravings can leave a person struggling emotionally and physically. 

Why Do Cravings Happen?

A craving is an urge to continue to use the substance of your choice. Cravings can happen for various drugs and alcohol, and they can happen with other forms of addiction, including food, sex, and other behavioral addictions.

With substance addiction, cravings happen because of the way alcohol or drugs interact with the brain. When you use an addictive substance, it causes a surge of dopamine in your brain. This is a hormone that helps you to feel good. It’s the hormone that creates the euphoric sensation you feel when you are using a substance. Over time, your brain learns that the substance can continue to give you that feel-good experience every time you use it.

Since our brains are wired to seek out things that make us feel good, your brain begins to crave that substance over and over again. Depending on the type of substance, it quickly becomes difficult for you to stop using it, as noted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

When you’re chronically exposed to that substance, it reduces the brain’s dopamine receptors, which means you are in a state of constantly needing and wanting that drug. 

Are you:

  • Always thinking about using substances?
  • Constantly feeling like you cannot have a good day without access to the substance?
  • Feeling like you can’t think or feel normally without the substance?
  • Trying to stop using it but unable to? 
  • Afraid of the negative consequences of using but still unable to stop? 

These are all indications that you need treatment for addiction. Our drug and alcohol treatment center in Lafayette, LA, can provide you with the resources you need to recover from addiction and stop the cravings for good.

How to Deal with Drug Cravings in Recovery

Cravings don’t fully go away once you work through drug and alcohol addiction. For many people, though, treatment gives them the resources and practice they need to manage the cravings without relapse. When you gain a better understanding of why cravings are occurring, you can seek out the level of help you need to recover.

If you have been through addiction treatment and are dealing with periodic cravings in recovery, the following are some of the most effective strategies available to manage those cravings:

  • Accept the craving, acknowledge it, and move on. In addiction treatment, you’ll learn how to work through this process of recognizing that the craving is occurring without reacting to it. You’ll learn how to observe the strong feelings without panicking. You’ll learn how to let those feelings subside and then continue on through your day. 
  • Distraction. Another way to manage cravings is to distract yourself from them. Most of the time, cravings only last about 15 minutes, and once you are through that period, you’re able to move on to the other activities in your day. The key is to find a way to occupy your brain through that time, such as talking to a friend, playing a video game, or going for a walk.
  • Get exercise. In some situations, the key is to burn off the stress hormone that’s making the cravings intense. One great way to do this is to exercise. Whether you do a workout at a gym, go for a swim, walk, or engage in another form of exercise, physical activity can ease the cravings and boost your mood naturally. 
  • Focus on mindfulness. Mindful meditation is one of the best tools available to help you work through addiction cravings. It allows you to center your thoughts and improve your overall focus, giving you more control.
  • Get into treatment. Cravings are hard to beat. If you continue to experience intense, frequent cravings that are getting hard to manage, discuss your symptoms with your drug and alcohol addiction treatment center.  Don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re alone in this process.

Don’t Put Off Getting the Support You Need

At Victory Addiction Recovery Center, we want you to know that you don’t have to deal with cravings on your own. With professional treatment, you can move beyond the crippling impact that cravings have and find yourself in a better place. Reach out to our team now and learn more about our drug and alcohol addiction treatment center in Lafayette, LA.

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