Overcoming the Sensation of Craving a Drink or Drugs
Table of Contents
- Overcoming the Sensation of Craving a Drink or Drugs
- What Are Cravings?
- Overcoming The Phenomenon of Craving
- How Alcoholics Anonymous Helps With Cravings and Alcohol Consumption
- Other Types of Treatment Programs
- Relapse Prevention is Crucial For Those With a Substance Use Disorder
- Get Help with Drug Abuse or Alcohol Consumption Now
- Medically Reviewed By
Alcoholism is a serious disease that affects millions of people worldwide. It is a chronic and often progressive condition that can have devastating effects on an individual’s physical, mental, and emotional health. One of the defining features of alcoholism is the phenomenon of craving. This is the intense and overwhelming desire to consume alcohol or drugs, even in the face of negative consequences.
For many individuals caught in the throes of alcohol or drug addiction, it can be nearly impossible to imagine ever being free from cravings. Fortunately, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) provides a safe space for individuals to find understanding and support as they work towards achieving lasting sobriety.
Keep reading to learn more about the phenomenon of craving, how Alcoholics Anonymous can help you overcome the abnormal desire to drink, and how Find Addiction Rehabs can Help.
What Are Cravings?
Craving is the intense desire to consume a substance or engage in an activity—in this case, drinking or taking drugs. It is one of the primary symptoms that individuals experience when dealing with addiction, and according to Alcoholics Anonymous, is what truly separates normal drinkers from problem drinkers over extended periods.
The AA program discusses how alcoholics and addicts suffer from a physical allergy to alcohol accompanied by a mental obsession which makes it impossible for them to drink normally in most cases. It’s important to understand what that means.
Physical Allergy to Alcohol
The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) describes alcoholism as a physical, mental, and spiritual disease. One aspect of the physical component of alcoholism is the physical allergy to alcohol. In AA literature, the physical allergy is described as an abnormal reaction to alcohol that is experienced by individuals with alcoholism over an extended period while seeking abstinence.
This allergic reaction is said to occur in response to the consumption of alcohol and is characterized by an uncontrollable craving for more alcohol. Craving is a symptom of alcoholism that even the smallest amount of alcohol can trigger.
What Causes an Allergy to Alcohol?
The allergy to alcohol is thought to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Researchers on the topic of addiction have found that, once they have begun drinking, those who are alcoholics begin to experience changes in brain matter composition and function. Individuals with a family history of substance use disorder may be more susceptible to this allergic reaction, and environmental factors such as stress, trauma, and social influences may also play a role.
The allergy to alcohol is said to be one of the reasons why individuals with a substance use disorder cannot control their drinking. The craving for alcohol is so strong that it overrides rational thought and leads to compulsive drinking behavior, shutting out thoughts of how to stop drinking.
The Mental Obsession
The mental obsession is said to be a product of the allergy to alcohol, as the brain’s reaction to the substance is different in individuals with alcoholism.
Once ‘the great obsession of an abnormal drinker‘ is triggered, people dealing with alcoholism become consumed with thoughts of drinking, obsessing over the idea of having just one drink, or being able to drink like a “normal” person. This obsession can be all-consuming and can lead to compulsive drinking behavior, despite the negative consequences that may result.
The Spiritual Malady
Alcoholics Anonymous states that ‘the spiritual malady‘ is a term used to describe the spiritual and emotional condition that is also present in individuals with alcoholism. This malady is characterized by feelings of restlessness, irritability, and discontentment, which can lead individuals to seek solace in alcohol or other addictive behaviors.
According to AA’s 12-step program, the spiritual malady is a result of a disconnection from a higher power or a lack of spiritual principles in one’s life. The program suggests that individuals with alcoholism have a spiritual need that cannot be fulfilled by alcohol or other external sources.
The solution to the spiritual malady in AA is to work the 12 steps of the program and to develop a connection with a higher power or spiritual principles. By working the steps and connecting with a higher power, individuals with a substance use disorder can begin to address the root causes of why they became addicted and find new sources of meaning and purpose in life.
Overcoming The Phenomenon of Craving
Overcoming the sensation of craving can be one of the most challenging aspects of recovery from addiction. However, it is not impossible, and there are many strategies and techniques that can help individuals manage and eventually overcome their cravings.
One of the most effective ways to overcome the sensation of craving for drugs or alcohol is through the use of coping skills and self-care techniques. This might include engaging in activities that bring joy and satisfaction, such as exercise, art, or spending time with loved ones or a healthy family member. It can also involve learning to identify and manage triggers that can lead to cravings, such as stress, anxiety, or social situations.
Another crucial aspect of overcoming the sensation of craving is building a strong support network. This might involve attending AA meetings, seeking out the guidance of a sponsor, or connecting with other individuals in recovery. Having a community of people who understand the challenges of addiction and can provide encouragement and support can be invaluable in the journey toward lasting recovery.
Seeing Alcohol and Drug Cravings as a Symptom
During recovery, you’ll repeatedly hear the saying “One day at a time.” Some might deter you and claim that’s too short of a goal. In fact, they might tell you that you should be setting longer-term goals to help work through your drug cravings. Let me assure you that they are incorrect!
In those very early days of recovery, you must focus on your wellness and keep from becoming overwhelmed. Your brain is chemically addicted and is unable to process input correctly. When you take on too much or allow enormous levels of stress into your life, you will become mentally overwhelmed. Your brain will kick into high gear and amplify cravings for drugs or alcohol.
Here are some of the craving scenarios that you could experience.
Dreaming About Using or Drinking
Because these happen when you’re sleeping, dreams about using are particularly challenging. Additionally, we can’t control our unconscious brain and how it’s processed during sleep. Be proactive and keep vigilant if you experience this drug-craving scenario.
Some things that can help you avoid this are listed below.
- Meditate before bed
- Read instead of watching TV
- Share positive thoughts from the day in your journal
Reminders You Can’t Avoid
One difficulty is cutting out all that you’ve done, seen, and experienced when you were using. This means that even mundane things can trigger drug cravings—something you see or hear, for example. Find new experiences as you learn to live life as your best, sober self and learn to appreciate the world around you.
- Create new memories and experience new things.
- Avoid danger zones in your area.
- Always be mindful of everything you hear or see.
It’s inevitable that you’ll come across something to remind you about your days of abusing drugs or alcohol. You’ll also occasionally look back at the fun you had when you were high or drunk. It’s urgent that you find a way to keep those memories in perspective every time they try to intrude on your sobriety.
Every day you should strive to avoid negative thoughts that can derail you.
How Alcoholics Anonymous Helps With Cravings and Alcohol Consumption
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a worldwide program that has helped millions of people overcome alcoholism and addiction. AA is based on the idea that alcoholism is a threefold disease that affects individuals physically, mentally, and spiritually. AA provides support, guidance, and tools to help individuals with addictions manage cravings and overcome alcohol abuse.
One way that AA helps with cravings and alcohol consumption is through its emphasis on complete abstinence from alcohol. AA’s program is based on the belief that individuals with alcoholism cannot control their drinking, and the only solution is complete abstinence from alcohol. By committing to complete abstinence, individuals with alcoholism can avoid triggering the physical allergy and the mental obsession that lead to cravings and compulsive drinking behavior.
The Importance of Sober Supports
AA also provides a supportive community of individuals who understand the challenges of addiction and can provide encouragement and support. AA meetings and even AA chat rooms offer a safe space for individuals with alcoholism to share their experiences, struggles, and successes with others who are going through the same thing. By connecting with others in recovery, individuals with alcoholism can build a network of support and accountability that can help them stay on track with their sobriety goals.
In addition, to support from the community, AA also provides a structured program of recovery that is designed to address the physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of the disease of addiction. The 12 steps of AA are a series of spiritual principles that guide alcoholics on a path of self-discovery, healing, and growth. By working the steps, alcoholics, and addicts can develop a deeper understanding of themselves and their addiction, learn to manage cravings and triggers, and build a life of sobriety that is meaningful and fulfilling.
Other Types of Treatment Programs
There are a variety of treatment programs for alcoholism and addiction. Many of these programs involve individual counseling and group therapy sessions, both in-person and online. These sessions provide an opportunity for individuals to talk about their experiences with addiction, as well as work through underlying issues that may be contributing to their substance abuse.
In addition to counseling, some treatment programs focus on helping individuals develop healthier coping skills and life skills so they can better manage their stressors without turning to alcohol or drugs.
Inpatient Treatment Programs
Inpatient treatment centers offer intense residential care for those suffering from alcoholism or addiction who need more intensive levels of care than outpatient treatment alone can provide. Residential rehabilitation centers typically offer 24/7 monitoring of clients’ progress along with a safe, supervised environment where clients can focus on healing without distraction or temptation from outside influences.
During their stay at rehab centers, clients will participate in individual counseling, group therapy sessions, 12-step meetings, educational classes about the disease of addiction, relapse prevention planning, and various other activities designed to build coping skills and promote long-term recovery success.
If you don’t need inpatient treatment, there are outpatient options available as well.
Relapse Prevention is Crucial For Those With a Substance Use Disorder
Relapse prevention focuses on helping individuals identify triggers, develop coping skills, and build a strong support network. The goal of this approach is to help individuals stay sober by addressing potential risk factors before they escalate into a full-blown relapse.
It’s said that relapse happens long before the person picks up a drink or a drug. Before this happens, they slip into other behaviors that are indicative of an impending relapse. By developing a sufficient relapse prevention plan, people can take note of their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and start to notice when they feel themselves slipping. This will help prevent relapse.
Relapse prevention plans should teach strategies to reduce relapse when faced with high-risk situations or triggers. Additionally, it should provide individuals with the resources needed to effectively manage cravings and reduce their chances of giving in to temptation.
By the time someone is considering drinking or using drugs, it’s often too late. The relapse prevention plan needed to be implemented earlier.
Get Help with Drug Abuse or Alcohol Consumption Now
Nobody should have to face addiction alone. Thankfully, organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous provide invaluable support for those struggling with substance abuse issues. By understanding the phenomenon of craving and following strategies outlined by AA and other types of treatment, individuals affected by addiction can begin working towards lasting sobriety.
If you need help getting connected with AA meetings or you need more intensive treatment for your chemical dependency, we can help. Don’t put off getting help any longer – reach out today and let us join you on your sober journey.
All calls are confidential, so please reach out in confidence and get options today!
Rachael Goldstein has been a freelance writer for more than 10 years, having written for Find Addiction Rehabs for the past two years. She specializes in writing about the law, mental health, psychology, and addiction. She is the owner and author of the website www.addicted-to-sobriety.com. Rachael is also a licensed attorney in the state of Pennsylvania.