Addiction is a disease where relapse is very common. While cravings and triggers in addiction recovery are unique, it is normal to experience cravings for drugs or alcohol after long-term use. However, when you experience cravings, there is often an internal conflict. Part of you understands the importance of staying sober, but another part of you is driven towards drug or alcohol use.
Effective treatment such as ours, at Laguna Shores Recovery Center is the best first step you can take on the road to recovery, it will help you learn the necessary skills to resolve this inner conflict and manage cravings for drugs and alcohol.
Cravings in Recovery
Addiction is considered a chronic relapsing disorder. Therefore, when you are in recovery, it is normal to feel cravings where you want to use drugs or alcohol again. The type, amount, and feelings of cravings are unique. However, they are generally due to physical dependence or triggering events. Being able to recognize cravings through self-awareness is key.
In the early phases of treatment, your body expects drugs or alcohol. Due to the changes that drugs and alcohol make in the brain, you will feel cravings for the substance that you are addicted to. Cravings due to physical dependence are generally best treated and managed through a medically supervised detox program. Later in recovery, these types of cravings are uncommon as your body has rebalanced without the use of drugs or alcohol.
The term trigger defines events, emotions, and locations that create cravings. Triggers are individual, and part of treatment is learning and understanding where your triggers are. Common triggers often include stress, anger or negative emotions, and being in a setting where drugs or alcohol are present.
Triggers are different than cravings that result from physical dependency. Instead of being a result of a physical drive, they are patterns that bring up the memory of using drugs or alcohol. For example, if you are triggered by stress being in a stressful situation will create the memory of using drugs or alcohol as a way to feel better. Therefore, you are more likely to feel a desire for it.
Internal Conflict During Cravings
As a person in recovery, you know the benefits of staying sober. Rationally, sobriety is the healthier choice; however, cravings feel like this drive or need for drugs and alcohol. This internal conflict is commonly called cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance simply means that you have two conflicting thoughts or feelings. While you are feeling a craving, it describes the combination of wanting to use drugs or alcohol and knowing that you do not want to use again and relapse.
Cognitive dissonance theory explains that this internal conflict is uncomfortable. As a result, you try to get rid of it. Common ways to decrease these feelings during a craving include:
- Rationalizing or justifying
- Changing one of the behaviors or beliefs
The internal conflict of cravings is very normal. If you have experienced these feelings, that is okay and part of the journey of recovery.
Staying the Course Through Cravings
Learning to resolve and work through the internal conflict caused by cravings is important. It helps you to start the course and maintain your sobriety long-term. The way you manage your internal conflict will be unique. However, techniques that are often helpful include distraction and stress management.
When you feel the desire to use drugs or alcohol, cognitive dissonance will feel like you need to resolve the internal conflict. However, this discomfort is often short-lived. Finding a distraction is one way to get your mind off of drugs and alcohol.
The perfect distraction will likely be different depending on the day and situation. However, it is often something that takes your full focus. This helps you to essentially forget about the desire for drugs and alcohol. Sometimes, distraction will be enough to get through a craving. However, it can also be used as a way to get out of a triggering environment or situation without relapsing.
Stress Management Skills
Cognitive dissonance is an uncomfortable feeling and commonly causes you to feel distressed. Feeling distressed is the motivation to change something to decrease the inner conflict. While these feelings are normal, stress management skills can help you to feel calmer in these moments.
There are many types of stress management skills, and finding ones that help you to decrease stress is important. Common tools that can help include the following:
- Deep breathing exercises
- Physical activity
- Taking a walk
- Talking to a friend or loved one
When you feel the inner conflict that occurs when you crave drugs or alcohol, these techniques can help you to feel less distressed at the moment. As you decrease your stress, you can think more clearly and stay the course in recovery.
Importance of Treatment in Managing Cravings
Learning how to manage the conflict and occurrence of cravings is very important for long-term sobriety. Research has found that one of the key factors in preventing relapse is getting help with addiction treatment. In treatment at Laguna Shores Recovery Center, you will learn more about addiction and how you can learn how to live a life free of drugs and alcohol.
Feeling cravings in recovery is normal and part of the process. However, it can cause internal conflict that needs to be addressed. By learning how to get through times when you feel internal conflict and cravings, you are more likely to maintain your sobriety long-term. At Laguna Shores Recovery Center, we understand that every person has a unique journey in recovery. In our treatment programs, you can learn how to identify and manage triggers in recovery. These skills will help you to resolve inner conflict so that you can thrive in life without substances. To learn more about our programs and how we can help you, call (866) 774-1532 today and speak with a staff member.