How to Handle Drug Addiction Cravings

How to Handle Drug Addiction Cravings

Once a person enters the world of recovery, their life often quickly becomes better and positive things start happening. They return to school or regain employment, begin new relationships with others in recovery; they engage with a sponsor or counselor and their physical health and looks improve. With all these great things, cravings for drug use may linger and sometimes be very intense. People with decades of recovery will explain that even they still get the occasional craving to use drugs. The best way to manage any craving for drugs or alcohol is to utilize your recovery toolset.

A person’s recovery toolset must include a network of support from others who are in recovery. Sharing with others in recovery about your drug abuse desires is one of the best ways to allow others to help you with it. By not being honest about feeling these cravings, it can influence a person to isolate, lie, and then relapse. Recovery from addiction is a supportive effort; nobody remains clean and sober all by themselves. It is through others that former addicts learn that what they are feeling is not an individual experience. A group of recovering addicts is as powerful as any drug because the group helps each person feel better.

How to Handle Drug Addiction Cravings

You Share, Others Relate

When people in recovery share their feelings about wanting to use drugs or alcohol, others in recovery instantly relate. You’ll be surprised how many recovering addicts will hold out their hand to help you get through these tough times without using. Or they will offer to stay by your side until the craving goes away. Typically, the miracle of opening up to another recovering addict about a craving or drug fantasy minimizes it to nothing but a strange thought.

If a person in recovery is truly fixated on getting high, another tool that is recommended is to make sure that your physical needs are being met. The acronym HALT (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired) is extremely helpful. Many addicts in recovery will realize that they are not actually craving a drug but perhaps a meal, or even something sweet. A person’s physical state affects their emotional and mental health. Walking around hungry is uncomfortable, as is too full. Monitoring how much and what kinds of food you eat is a simple cure for reducing drug cravings.

Emotions Have a Huge Effect

The next letter of the acronym is a big one. Anger is often the trigger for many drug cravings. Addicts used drugs to numb or ward off their feelings. There are no other emotions that are as intense as Anger. If a person in new recovery experiences something that sends them into the red zone, quickly they will immediately try to expel that uncomfortable emotion, and their mind will remember what has “worked” in the past (getting high).

To get to the root cause of anger, the 12 Steps are the most applauded method for uncovering how and why certain people or experiences cause anger. By working the 12 Steps (specifically Step 4) many recovering addicts have found that by identifying their part in a situation that causes their anger, the acceptance makes it go away. Another tool for anger is like the tool for hunger, and that is to make sure that all of your physical needs are being met. An angry person is often hungry or tired.

Feeling lonely is another symptom of the disease of addiction. Addicts use drugs not to feel lonely. If a newly recovering addict is feeling alone and desolate, they need to get involved with others. By reaching out to others in recovery, a person is no longer isolated, and their feelings of separateness diminish. This does not mean that newly recovering addicts must be surrounded by others at all times. It does mean that picking up the phone and calling someone when you feel lonely will help ease that emotion.

Physically Things That Cause the Cravings

Like being hungry, being tired is a physical influence that will cause an addict to crave drugs. Many addicts used to stay awake all night on drugs and alcohol for days on end. Once a person gets clean and sober, they may struggle with getting enough sleep or too much sleep for the first several months. At about six months of sobriety, most recovering addicts sleep cycle returns to normal, and they feel refreshed after a good night’s sleep. If someone is not getting enough sleep, tiredness can add to the uncomfortable feelings that cravings seek to medicate. So, get enough sleep.

Have a Relapse Prevention Plan

Another essential tool that helps every addict on their journey in recovery is having been taught the skills from relapse prevention groups or literature. Relapse prevention groups teach addicts how to cope and where to go for specific types of help. A relapse prevention plan will include adding 12 Step meetings, working with a counselor and a sponsor. It will also recommend that the recovering addict’s day is full of positive activities.

An idle mind is dangerous for people in recovery because boredom is often a trigger for drug cravings. By filling the day with meetings, work, and time with friends and family who are supportive is essential. Also, do not forget about having fun! Going to movies, out to eat, riding a bike and many other entertainment activities make recovery worth it.

Avoid Boredom in Recovery

Boredom in recovery is more likely for a person who lacks aspirations and motivation. If a newly recovering addict is not striving to improve him or herself, then its’ recommended to revisit how their recovery is serving them. Additionally, people who have been in recovery for years can become complacent and begin to believe that they do not need to spend as much time on their recovery. This is a prime example of the disease of addiction at work. Recovery is a lifelong endeavor that when nourished, grows stronger.

To stabilize your recovery and prevent drug cravings, another essential aspect for recovering addicts is a connection to a Higher Power or God. By beginning every day with time for spiritual reflection or meditation, recovering addicts have a purpose presented to them that does not wholeheartedly focus on “self”. By getting out of your way and considering that a Higher power is in charge is a freeing experience. Addicts are some of the most self-involved and self-centered people that exist. To believe that this trait completely goes away once an addict is in recovery is simply not always true.

Addicts who are in a very strong recovery will explain that they have character defects. By addressing the character defects, addicts learn to cope with who they are clean and sober. This simple realization is a great approach to make your recovery fulfilling. Recovery means that addicts and alcoholics can finally enjoy life as it is presented to them. Life is no longer dismal and recovering addicts can connect to it far beyond the help that any drug or drink once provided.

Don’t Pick Up, Stay Sober

The most important thing for every addict and alcoholic is to remember is that no matter what…do not pick up a drink or a drug. Addiction immediately begins the minute you start using again. All other important facets of a recovering addict’s life get thrown to the side, and the addiction starts all over again. Cravings diminish with time in recovery; this is a fact. To get through the times that your mind fixates on drugs, look to your support network, check in with yourself through HALT, review your relapse prevention plan and spend time with your Higher Power, and complete your day or week with friends in recovery and have some fun!

Passenger claims that man overdosed and died on Delta flight

With the drug addiction epidemic ravaging all areas of the country, even our skies are not a safe place. A Delta Air Lines flight passenger has claimed that a man overdosed on one of their flights when she was a passenger and there was no Narcan on the flight to save him.  Naran is the brand name of naloxone, which is used to reverse opioid-related overdoses. The passenger claims that the man overdosed on the Delta flight and passed away as a result of the incident:

As a result of the unconfirmed incident, Delta announced that they will have Narcan kits on all of their aircraft flights by the end of the year. The graphic nature of the reporting passenger’s description, detailing how the man was found with a “needle in his arm”, paints a dire picture of what is happening in communities all around us. Opioid overdoses are increasing every year, and the man that overdosed on a Delta flight is a prime example of the dangerous nature of addiction.

Passenger claims that man overdosed on Delta flight

Man overdosed and died on Delta Air Lines flight without Narcan available

When an overdose happens, the quick administration of Narcan can mean the difference between life and death. In this situation, having naloxone handy could have saved the man’s life. Privacy rules restrict Delta Air Lines from directly commenting on the situation, but they did confirm there was an onbroad medical emergency during the flight:

In response, reps for Delta confirmed to Yahoo that a medical emergency happened during the trip and that their flights are not currently supplied with Naloxone, popularly identified by the brand name Narcan, a nasal spray used to counter opioid overdoses. (Fox News)

Drug overdose deaths have now surpassed vehicle crashes for the first time in the number of deaths. This terrible milestone is a cause for action in the war against addiction and drugs.

If you or a loved one are struggling with opioid addiction, there is help available. Recreate Life Counseling offers an evidence-based approach to treating addiction. We get to the root causes of substance abuse and assist addicts in achieving long-term recovery.

“Calvin Klein” Drug Craze

Calvin Klein Drug Craze

The New York Post reported recently how there is a new cocktail drug killing our youth, and that it tragically took the life of a young violinist who was a musical prodigy. The drug has come to be known as the ‘Calvin Klein’ drug because it goes by the initials ‘CK,’ that reference the brand. CK is a cocktail drug that is a mixture of cocaine and ketamine. The young violinist died from an accidental overdose of the drug in London on Thursday, July 11th, 2019. It’s often used in the club scene by young adults that want to party longer and harder. Unfortunately, the consequences of mixing these two dangerous narcotics can be fatal.

Calvin Klein Drug Craze

Dangerous Calvin Klein Drug Craze

Per the New York Post, “Katya Tsukanova, 17, a leading musician in the UK, died of an apparent overdose from a cocaine and ketamine drug cocktail — just days after performing at the Royal Opera House in the city”. This news has prompted further investigation of how dangerous this drug is. Although more evidence is needed in how cocaine and ketamine combined affects a person’s brain, there is research on the two drugs separately.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse, NIDA, classifies ketamine as a dissociative drug similar to hallucinogens. NIDA states that the reason people take dissociative drugs is to “enable them to enter into what they perceive as a more enlightened sense of thinking or being” (NIDA). Additionally, from NIDA, “Ketamine—also known as K, Special K, or cat Valium—is a dissociative currently used as an anesthetic for humans as well as animals. Much of the ketamine sold on the street has been diverted from veterinary offices. Although it is manufactured as an injectable liquid, ketamine is generally evaporated to form a powder that is snorted or compressed into pills for illicit use…” (NIDA).

Cocaine is considered a stimulant drug, and when added to ketamine, likely increases the effect of the Ketamine. Historically, cocaine has been mixed with many other drugs to enhance their effects. It is commonly mixed with heroin, methamphetamine, and alcohol. Tsukanova was a victim of the lethal effects of both drugs. The New York Post reported that her father, Igor Tsukanova, said his daughter was a “smart girl, and she made one bad choice.” (NY Post).

Raising Awareness About the Calvin Klein Drug

The CK drug is a popular club drug, and like other club drugs, may continue to take lives as it continues to be sold. The DEA currently does not acknowledge the drug cocktail CK as a specific drug type but does reference cocaine and ketamine in their drug schedules. The DEA schedules drugs according to how dangerous they are “Drugs, substances, and certain chemicals used to make drugs are classified into five (5) distinct categories or schedules depending upon the drug’s acceptable medical use and the drug’s abuse or dependency potential… the abuse rate is a determinate factor in the scheduling of the drug; for example, Schedule I drugs have a high potential for abuse and the potential to create severe psychological and physical dependence.” (DEA). Currently, Cocaine is listed with the DEA as a schedule II drug and Ketamine a schedule III.

The fact that a young violinist died accidentally from the mixture of cocaine and ketamine is tragic. Although most experiences with dangerous drugs do not end well, cases like this are very saddening and force us to examine what our younger generations are doing when they get together. Becoming involved and educated about the types of drugs that are available in clubs and on the street is a starting point. Additionally, adults must look for warning signs and behaviors that indicate drug use and abuse, as well as supporting laws that will limit the accessibility of these drugs to be bought over the web and by illegal prescription as in the case of Ketamine.

The Struggles of Early Sobriety

The Struggles of Early Sobriety

When you first start the long journey to sobriety, you’ll likely face struggles that will make you want to relapse. Staying strong, resilient, and keeping loved ones around for support are the keys to staying sober.

Navigating the first weeks of recovery once you have completed a treatment program can be challenging. Recovery from a life of addiction to drugs and alcohol is not just about getting clean and sober. If it were that easy, then most addicts would have stopped their addictions the first day they felt trouble or physical withdrawal symptoms. So how do people get through the first day, week, and months in early recovery? The most important need that all recovering addicts and alcoholics require is support.

The Struggles of Early Sobriety

Support is your Best Path to Sobriety

All successful recovering addicts and alcoholics will explain that the way they stay clean and sober is by attending support groups, having friends who are also in recovery and continuing their aftercare with a professional. Once you have finished your treatment program, you will likely feel a little lonely without the people that you grew to know in treatment. It is that very reason that many people relapse after they leave treatment. In treatment, they had friends, a supportive counselor, and felt happy, clean, and sober. Once they return to their home, they do not have the same support or immediate friends in recovery. The “people, places, and things” from your old life begin lurking again and knocking at your door.

Getting yourself to a meeting as soon as possible and introducing yourself as a new person in recovery is the fastest way to make friends who will support you. All twelve-step meeting attendees know that recovering addicts and alcoholics depend on relationships that are fun, relatable, and supportive. By introducing yourself to the group, everyone there will know that you are there to stay clean and sober and that you are someone who needs them, as much as they need you.

Another type of support that is necessary during the first weeks of recovery is the support of a counselor or therapist. Your drug treatment program should complete a referral for continued care with a new counselor who specializes in addiction recovery before you leave.  Intensive outpatient and outpatient drug treatment programs are a step-down level of care that strengthens your early sobriety.

This part of the personal recovery journey is critical. Most, if not all, addicts and alcoholics have deep emotional concerns that must be addressed with a counselor or therapist. A stay at a treatment program may uncover a history of abuse, neglect, or trauma that needs further discussion. Additional counseling for these types of issues will guarantee that nothing gets left out of your recovery, helping you feel satisfied in your sobriety.

Continue with your Intensive Outpatient Program

Another way to navigate through early recovery is to depend on continuing care at an IOP program. IOP stands for an intensive outpatient program. IOP’s have strong success rates with helping addicts and alcoholics remain clean and sober for the long term. Their success lies in the fact that these programs allow people to work and attend school throughout the week and then go to IOP during their time off.  IOP programs are extremely beneficial because they offer group counseling, individual counseling, relapse prevention, and teach new ways to enjoy recovery.

An obvious benefit of attending an IOP program is that the environment is supportive, and clients make great friends to attend meetings with, go to movies, enjoy sports, and exercise, and develop a network of support. IOP programs allow individuals in early recovery to feel accepted if they feel stressed out or depressed during their recovery. These emotions are normal, and an IOP provides a setting to let them out. The flexibility of IOP programs is also a plus. IOPs typically offer groups throughout the day and week, so this allows the client to decide what works best for their new routine in recovery.

Some addicts and alcoholics also support their recovery by living at a sober living home while they attend IOP. Sober living homes are very beneficial for newly recovering addicts. These environments are lively, and lifelong friendships are created amongst residents. It is recommended that the type of sober living environment you live at be the same sex. One struggle of early sobriety is romantic relationships.

Romance is a great thing if you are prepared for it. Most addicts and alcoholics need time to discover who they are clean and sober. It is not recommended that anyone with under a year in recovery get involved in a romantic relationship. The feelings and pressures are often too much, and this is a great cause of relapse. Giving yourself time to adapt to life and to realize that you can manage life without drugs and alcohol is a giant accomplishment. Why create a potentially stormy and emotionally charged romance during a time of personal healing – doesn’t seem to make sense although many people attempt it and unfortunately fail and relapse.

The way a newly recovering addict or alcoholic feels in general in the first few months can be scary. Learning how to go to the grocery store and not go down the beer and vodka isle or admire the pharmacy are real challenges that all addicts and alcoholics have faced in their recovery. It may also be difficult to face certain family members or friends. And it will be hard to see old places and locations where you used to get high or drink.

You’ll Crave What You Shouldn’t Have

Cravings for alcohol and drugs are normal, and the best way to deal with them is to talk to someone about them. Tell on yourself! By holding in your thoughts or fantasies about using or drinking, you are repeating a pattern of falsely representing yourself to the world. It is hard to feel secure in admitting that you have cravings to people who are not in recovery. Recovering addicts and alcoholics will regularly talk about how ‘they were just sitting there one day and all of a sudden they thought about a drug or getting drunk.’ This is normal, and it is healthy to tell people who understand about it.

The best thing about recovery is that with the help of a supportive community of other recovering addicts and alcoholics, people in new recovery have others to talk about their feelings and experience. Another goal that is recommended is that people in early sobriety get a sponsor and work the 12 steps or another program with them. A sponsor is a person who will understand how crazy, angry, and upset you are. A sponsor is also someone who can guide you on how to handle nearly anything.

The goal of recovery is to be able to help others who need it eventually. By giving yourself enough support through friends, meetings, counseling, and sponsorship, you can navigate the ups and downs of your first few days weeks and months of recovery much easier. In the beginning, remember to take it easy and allow yourself to be human and always to approach life one day at a time.

Individual Therapy in Addiction Treatment

individual therapy in addiction treatment

The best type of addiction treatment is individual therapy, one on one with a professional who is there to help you in getting sober.

The goals of addiction and alcoholism recovery extend beyond remaining clean and sober. A person is said to have established strong recovery from their addiction when they feel fulfilled with life and have peace of mind. To achieve this serenity, one critical component to every drug and alcohol treatment program is individual therapy. Individual therapy allows a person to build trust with a therapist to work on deep issues that are personal and challenging. Without individual therapy sessions in place, an addict or alcoholic may not address issues that could cause them to relapse.

individual therapy in addiction treatment

Why Choose Us?

At Recreate Life Counseling, our clients regularly work with our individual therapists. During individual therapy sessions, clients are encouraged to be open and honest about themselves. Unlike group therapy sessions, these meetings are held one on one between the therapist and client for approximately one hour at a time. Individual therapy allows clients to open up about histories of sexual abuse, violence, suicidal thoughts, challenging relationships, and family problems as well as concerns about relapse.

The benefits of individual therapy to build a close relationship with a therapist, so that the client learns to connect with a safe person with whom they can trust and follow their advice. Our therapists form meaningful relationships with clients that promote wellbeing, build self-esteem, and restore emotional stability. Each client is assigned a therapist best suited to meet their individual needs. We consider gender, age, addiction history, family dynamics, and other elements that contribute to a person’s psychology.

What is Quality Addiction Treatment?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a quality addiction treatment program must incorporate numerous types of therapy and treatment that focuses on the individual needs of the person to be an effective treatment program. Per NIDA:

“Treatment varies depending on the type of drug and the characteristics of the patients. Matching treatment settings, interventions, and services to an individual’s particular problems and needs is critical to his or her ultimate success in returning to productive functioning in the family, workplace, and society… Effective treatment attends to multiple needs of the individual, not just his or her drug abuse.  To be effective, treatment must address the individual’s drug abuse and any associated medical, psychological, social, vocational, and legal problems. It is also important that treatment be appropriate to the individual’s age, gender, ethnicity, and culture” (NIDA).

Recreate Life Counseling has years of successful history in helping addicts and alcoholics gain freedom from their addictions once and for all. Our treatment programs incorporate individual counseling as a key element of each client’s program. Individual counseling is often where most recovering addicts or alcoholics growth occurs. Addicts and alcoholics require individualized attention that focuses on their addiction history, family relationships, trauma, beliefs, and goals.

Individual therapy also helps addicts and alcoholics rediscover who they are. Addiction and alcoholism are lifestyles that stop regular accomplishments in life. Careers and education are always put to the side when a person is in their disease. Personalized therapy helps clients build their self-esteem and motivation to attain a solid position within society. Individual therapy helps clients recognize what type of job or career they want to pursue as well as furthering their education. Therapy helps clients see their purpose and potential in life clean and sober.

Another positive outcome of individual therapy is that clients gain the ability to heal, form, and recognize healthy relationships, as well as unhealthy ones. Addiction and alcoholism tear apart friendships and families and recovering addicts and alcoholics carry a tremendous amount of shame and guilt that needs to be processed in a safe environment free of judgment. One common goal of individual therapy is to help clients mend relationships and to heal their pain. Rejections, isolation, and sadness are regular themes many addicts and alcoholics share about their close relationships, and individual therapy helps them work through these painful emotions.

Individual therapy also helps newly recovering addicts and alcoholics learn to communicate about their feelings. Most addicts and alcoholics used substances to cover up their feelings and once they get clean and sober, those feelings remain and need to be expressed and understood in a therapeutic environment. The goal of therapy is to support the client in healing their pain and building their self-esteem, which helps them accept themselves as a person in recovery.

People in recovery are not instantly better or perfect. Individual counseling helps the person frame themselves as imperfect but improving; learning to accept their shortcomings and how to work on them is an ongoing process that takes time and requires guidance from an individual therapist. Our therapists work to help every client rediscover who they are clean and sober. This discovery is multilayered and requires someone to listen and support what a person finds and learns about themselves.