Understanding Cravings in Addiction and Their Impact on Recovery
One of the most celebrated piano pieces left by Jelly Roll Morton, the Creole American composer who claimed to have invented jazz in 1917, is “The Crave,” an irresistible ragtime tango that truly lives up to its name. A few years before his death at the age of 50, Morton explained that he was inspired to write “The Crave” based on what he felt his entire adult life: a deep sense of longing for women, money, adoration, liquor, and drugs.
Morton craved everything nightlife had to offer. His womanizing ways got him stabbed in 1938, and years of drinking left him unable to properly heal until he died in 1941. In a historical context, Morton’s lust for life was his downfall. In the context of addiction treatment, his constant cravings never allowed him to recover.
Cravings & the Human Condition
Intense desires are fundamental aspects of being human. Cravings can be physical, psychological, emotional, and, ultimately, behavioral. When properly acknowledged and managed, they can be powerful forces in our lives. For example, Jelly Roll Morton craved attention so much that he claimed to have invented jazz while playing in the brothels of New Orleans in the late 19th century. He knew that wasn’t the case, but he was a master of self-promotion. He got the attention he craved, and his musical creativity grew along with his massive ego.
From a neurochemical point of view, cravings are as complex as love and other strong human emotions, but they’re more formally referred to as withdrawal, which is often the first sign of dependence. Withdrawal is what happens when the brain’s reward system, which can be thought of as a circuit, becomes compromised. The interaction of liquor molecules with neurons such as dopamine and glutamate is what ultimately results in strong cravings for another drink even if you’re nursing the most terrible hangover. When it comes to alcohol use disorder (AUD), severe withdrawal makes the recovery process difficult for various reasons, which explains why many patients rely on sober lifestyle coaching, such as recovery coach services in Carlsbad, to help them get through it.
Physiological & Psychological Cravings
The problem with cravings in AUD is that they can trigger major health issues such as delirium tremens (DT) episodes, which can be deadly if other conditions are present. DT episodes are physiological. However, cravings can be purely psychological for some patients, and they can be just as problematic. AUD patients whose withdrawal symptoms are purely emotional may not experience dangerous DT episodes that devolve into shock, but their symptoms can still get in the way of recovery.
Managing Withdrawal Symptoms in AUD Treatment
In severe AUD cases that require medical detox, monitoring patients during the first 72 hours is crucial to ensure they don’t fall into severe DT episodes. Various medications can be administered during and after detox. For example, some antidepressants are particularly helpful.
Once AUD patients are dry and safe from DT, psychological dependence tends to set in, and the concerns switch to lapse and relapse prevention. Knowing what to do when strong cravings cause despair is essential. To this effect, many patients find behavior modification works better with sober lifestyle coaching.
For strength-based support with addiction recovery in Carlsbad, CA, you can rely on the trained recovery coaches at Sober Lifestyle Coaching. We know precisely what it takes to get sober, stay sober, and live the healthy lifestyle you deserve. We specialize in working with clients with active addictions as well as clients already in recovery. Our sober coaches help clients work through potentially challenging events such as going to work and attending family gatherings while providing encouragement, accountability, insight, and understanding through our own recovery experiences. To learn more about how a sober lifestyle coach can help you or someone you love, call us at 760-300-8338.