How To Work Through Alcohol and Drug Cravings

Alcohol and drug cravings are something that almost every alcoholic or addict fears. During active addiction when they would arise, there was a seemingly insurmountable reaction that would result in drinking or using drugs regardless of whether the person wanted to or not. It was not the same as really wanting a slice of pizza, but rather it was an obsession of the mind stemming from biological and psychological factors that were well beyond the person’s control. When someone gets sober there is a fear that if a desire for a drink or a drug arises they will not be able to defend against it and this will result in a relapse back into addiction.

Just because a desire to drink or drug occurs does not necessarily mean that a person has to fulfill it. In fact having a desire is actually a fairly normal experience for people who are sober, but the difference is that once they are sober and have the tools necessary to defend against it, it no longer has the same power. In order to achieve this though takes some work, and the first thing that is necessary is to understand what exactly a craving is and why it does not mean that you are doing something wrong.

What Is An Alcohol or Drug Craving?

The physical reaction that occurs in the body when a person seemingly out of the blue wants a drink or a drug is perfectly normal for people who suffer from addiction. It is caused in part because when addictive substances are ingested into a person’s body they bypass normal bodily functions that create signals of pleasure, in effect making the hormones that normally produce these signals obsolete. When these substances are ingested enough times, the body will actually stop producing certain hormones because the substances are doing their job for them. When drug usage or alcohol consumption is discontinued, the body does not immediately start to produce these hormones again and so a person can experience extreme discomfort, which results in a desire to use in order to make that discomfort go away.

Also, when addictive substances are ingested into the body they are broken down and usually expelled but some of the substance is left in the body in metabolites. Some of the metabolites end up in fatty tissues and can stay in the body for months or years. As fatty tissue is burned off, the metabolites can re-enter the bloodstream, and when this occurs a desire to drink or drug can occur. Majority of the time fatty tissue will be burned off during stressful period’s in a person’s life and this is why a desire to drink or drug usually comes about during these times.

Psychologically speaking, having a desire to drink or drug after usage has been stopped is a perfectly normal experience, because many times an alcoholic or addict has programmed their minds to associate certain things with alcohol or drug usage. This was not done intentionally but was the result of continuously using and therefore causing the brain to associate certain stimuli with drug or alcohol usage.

Due to this, when they experience that same situation sober, their minds recall theirs usage and a desire for the substance can arise. In time, the brain can learn to unlearn this association but that could take some time to occur.

How to Work Through Cravings

As much as your history might tell you that when you have a desire to drink or drug you will ultimately fulfill it, this no longer needs to be the case. Overcoming a want to use is not necessarily easy in the beginning, but with time and by following a few simple steps, you can learn to neutralize these feelings and finally be free from the obsession of your mind.

image of man having drug cravings

  1. Understand that wanting a drink or drug is normal

After doing the same thing for many years it is to be expected that your natural reaction will at times be to want to use. This want does not mean that you are doing anything wrong, that your program is bad, or that your relationship with your higher power is weak, it just simply means that you are an addict or an alcoholic. Understanding that from time to time your mind will tell you that you should have a drink or drug can take away some of the stress that occurs when a desire to use arises, and because of this you can treat it for what it is, a thought, and let it go.

  1. If a situation is triggering you, remove yourself from that situation

Many times a desire to drink or drug might come out of nowhere, but other times it is the direct result of being in a certain situation. If this is the case then remove yourself from that situation as quickly you as possibly can. You will notice that once you have left the situation, the desire will subside and with it the risk of possibly relapsing

  1. Call someone as soon as you can

This suggestion goes hand in hand with the first suggestion. Many times when a desire to drink or drug arises, the person experiencing it will think that this means they are doing something wrong and so they will be hesitant to share about it. When you understand that having that desire is normal, it will make it easier to call someone and expose it to the light. Talking to someone and not letting the idea fester in your mind can many times remove a desire instantaneously, so if you start to experience a desire to use, call someone as soon as you can.

  1. Work the 12 Steps

The goal of the 12 Steps is to allow the alcoholic or addict to have a spiritual awakening which will expel the obsession to drink or drug. By working the 12 steps not only will the obsession, which is essentially one continuous desire to use, be expelled, but it will also give you the tools necessary to combat any thoughts that could possibly lead you back to drinking or drugging.

Overcoming Cravings And Seeking Treatment

The period when the desire to drink or drug is most potent is usually during the detoxification process, so if you are planning on stopping using call Coastal Detox today at 1-877-978-3125. Our trained professionals can help you make it through this often dangerous time and get you on your journey to being free from the obsession to use.

Real Client Testimonials

  • Before coming to coastal I was hopeless, helpless, and my family wanted nothing to do with me. It wasn’t the first detox I’d ever been to, but it was the only one who showed me so much love and compassion. They gave me hope. It’s hard to put into words the amount of gratitude I have for this facility. The employees were my family when I had none. The staff went out of their way to make sure not only were my physical needs taken care of, but my emotional needs as well. From the first phone call prior to admission, to helping me set up continuing care, they never missed a beat. Even going as far as to help me with my legal issues via Zoom court. This isn’t just a detox, they are the family I never had. All of the techs, especially Karen, are phenomenal. They will take the time to listen to you, laugh, and cry(if needed) with you. If you are reading this and you or your loved one is suffering like I was, go to Coastal Detox. The level of care is more than I could ever put into a review. It wasn’t the first detox I’d been to, but it has been my last; I owe them everything I have today, including my life.

    Travis B. Avatar
    Travis B.
    12/07/2020
  • Had a really good experience at Coastal. The staff really went above and beyond in helping me get in and gave me the respect l, space and care I needed after I first got there. As I started to fell better they encouraged me to take part in groups which helped get me out of my head and bring positivity and health to my thinking. They had a great massage therapist, who came daily and it was evident the nursing staff genuinely cared. Got to know some of the staff as well and I’m grateful for the cooks Joe and Chris. Those guys literally made us sirloins and pork chops for dinner. Also I gotta thank Chris and Chris for helping me get in and setting me up with a transition plan. Real grateful for that help, I’m not sure if it’s management intention to hire guys named Chris but they got a good thing going there. Overall, I’m clean and sober today and walking it out. Coastal gave me a base that set me up for the success that I’m walking in today

    Brandon B. Avatar
    Brandon B.
    1/16/2020
  • My family is very thankful for Coastal Detox. They have went above and beyond for my son a few times. Unfortunately he has needed their help more than once and they have ever turned their back on him, even when he was at his worst. Jeannie and Chris have been amazing and kept me informed through the entire process. They truly care about the addict and want to help them especially when it would be easy to give up on them. I had many detox facilities be rude and uncaring to me when I was searching for help for my son, but Coastal never did that to us. I don't know the names of all the team members that have helped my son but I know their are many and y'all are angels!! One day we will be able to pay it forward and help someone as you have helped us. Thank you for all you do!!

    Brenda A. Avatar
    Brenda A.
    1/01/2020
  • Can not say enough nice things about Coastal Detox & staff. Family member was there, told me five stars for the facility & all whom she interacted with. Said the facilities, ambience..., cleanliness, grounds, food, (think their chef is five stars), were all top shelf. All I interacted with personally & on the phone were patient, professional, responsive & caring. Kudos to so many: Jeannie Jones, Clinical Director whom I spent the most face to face time with: great oversight, patience & follow thru. Raquel Barker, Therapist was so understanding & on spot with her assessments/care. Kris Garrigus Admissions Director, another Coastal professional whom I cannot say enough nice things about, always so patient & responsive to my probably too frequent inquires. Not to be forgotten is Judy Tucker, Director of Operations she too so patiently "put up with me"
    I highly recommend Coastal Detox

    Susan C. Avatar
    Susan C.
    11/13/2019
  • Can not say enough nice things about Coastal Detox & staff. Family member was there, told me five stars for the facility & all whom she interacted with. Said the facilities, ambience..., cleanliness, grounds, food, (think their chef is five stars), were all top shelf. All I interacted with personally & on the phone were patient, professional, responsive & caring. Kudos to so many: Jeannie Jones, Clinical Director whom I spent the most face to face time with: great oversight, patience & follow thru. Raquel Barker, Therapist was so understanding & on spot with her assessments/care. Kris Garrigus Admissions Director, another Coastal professional whom I cannot say enough nice things about, always so patient & responsive to my probably too frequent inquires. Not to be forgotten is Judy Tucker, Director of Operations she too so patiently "put up with me"
    I highly recommend Coastal Detox

    Susan C. Avatar
    Susan C.
    11/06/2019

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