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Coping with Cravings in Early sobriety

Cravings for drugs and alcohol are an inevitability in the early stages of recovery. Drug use creates major alterations to brain functioning, and as a result, we feel that we need substances just to feel normal. We once relied on substances to provide a sense of relief from our lives, and in early sobriety we may feel the need to use drugs in response to any stressors we may face.

Cravings can be caused by many different environmental cues. We may see, hear, or smell something that reminds us of drugs or alcohol, and immediately develop an intense desire for intoxication. In a 2010 Psychology Today article entitled Cravings: When the Brain Remembers Drug Use, Dr. Adi Jaffe explains that “cravings are strong memories that are linked to the effect of drugs on the brain’s neurochemistry,” and “The immense neurotransmitter release that is often brought on by the ingestion of drugs is responsible both for the experience and the lasting effects on learning. When it comes down to it, memories are really the brain re-experiencing an event, so it makes sense that reliving a drug, sex, or other past-compulsive experience would cause a serious emotional reaction. When one remembers, cortical areas associated with the sights, sounds, smells, and thoughts related to the event are activated in a manner very similar to the initial experience.” Fortunately, recovery programs are designed to minimize the possibility of experiencing overwhelming cravings.

The best way to avoid cravings is by engaging honestly and thoroughly with a recovery program of action. We will reach a point when we do not have any strong feelings toward drinking alcohol or using drugs. The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous explains, “We are not fighting it, neither are we avoiding temptation. We feel as though we have been placed in a position of neutrality—safe and protected. We have not even sworn off. Instead, the problem has been removed. It does not exist for us.” If we have yet to begin the work of our recovery program, we should be willing to reach out to our sponsor or friends in the recovery community when we experience temptation or desire for drugs. Support systems can be invaluable in the early stages of recovery, and others who have successfully recovered will be able to share their own experience of overcoming cravings to help us. Cravings are momentary, if we can hold on and maintain our sobriety when the urges hit us, we will be able to continue on the journey toward a happy, joyous, and free life in sobriety.

Recovery is possible. Once we concede to the fact that our addiction is a problem and we require help to overcome it, we can begin the rewarding journey of recovery. Resilient House, located in beautiful Shreveport, Louisiana, brings together the highest quality behavioral health and addictions specialists, spiritual guides, and holistic experts to help clients develop all the necessary tools to achieve a fulfilling life in sobriety. For information about treatment options, please call today: (833) 242-6431