Drug or Alcohol Cravings
What are Drug and Alcohol Cravings?
To have a good concept of what is meant by craving, let’s look at what the dictionary says about it. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as “an intense, urgent, or abnormal desire; longing for.” On the subject of substance abuse, drug and alcohol cravings do exist. But this does not explain how or why this comes about with illicit drugs, medication, or alcohol. However, it does give some understanding of where to look for further explanation.
Understanding of Alcohol and Drug Cravings
In the above definition, the key word is “desire.” A desire is the feeling of wanting to have something or wishing that something happens. It may be easy to state that: “the person who abuses cocaine wants coke,” or “the person who drinks vodka simply wants vodka” This may be true but limits the understanding of what really occurs.
Human Body Building Blocks
When a person abuses some mind-altering substance, whether street drugs, alcohol, or prescription medication, it creates a chemical change. Four key weight masses divide the body: fat, water, protein, and minerals.
Six key elements make up 99% of the mass in the human body. These elements are oxygen, hydrogen, carbon, calcium, nitrogen, and phosphorus1. Another 0.85% of the body mass includes magnesium, potassium, sodium, and others. Of course, hydrochloride or ethanol, the primary psychoactive chemicals in cocaine and alcohol, are not part of it., are not part of it.
Ingesting Foreign Substances
When a person ingests some foreign substance to get high or ease the pain, it counters the body’s existing elements. For instance, alcohol burns up enormous amounts of vitamin B1.2 This, in part, explains the lightheadedness from two or three glasses of wine. As a person uses more of the substance, it depletes the body’s natural components – those listed above. Over time the body becomes dependant on these foreign substances and depends on them for its existence. And it explains why substance abusers have a generally unhealthy appearance. So how do “drug and alcohol cravings” fit into this equation?
The Body and Alcohol or Drug Cravings
The body’s depletion of nutrients has a variety of symptoms. Appearing in this circumstance are muscle aches, skin sores, tooth pain, nasal secretion, chills, bone aches, to name a few. If the body uses calcium to maintain skeletal structure when heroin burns up this element3, it will not be available for other body functions. A person who stops using heroin will feel ill and complain about sore bones. The “drug craving,” in this case, is the bones screaming for some proper nutrition. But, instead of feeding the body nutrients, the person mistakes this for “the need for another fix” (dose of heroin). Taking more of the substance only numbs the pain and contributes to further deterioration of the body.
The above is one part of the craving issue. Another factor is not often observed, and when it is, it is often mishandled or misinterpreted. That part is the effects of drugs and alcohol on the mind. We see how these toxic substances can destroy a body, but what of the mind?
The Mind and Drug or Alcohol Cravings
To determine the effects on the mind, it would help to know some data on what the mind is. The mind is a sophisticated system that records the environment with full perception. Sight, sound, tastes, smell, and touch are the main ones. There exist many more perceptics. The mind stores these recordings. Thus, one can remember or recall a moment of one’s past and recognize what was occurring then. This is memory. Memories are useful to predict the present and future, solve problems, help in decision making, etc. When a person uses drugs or alcohol, it also records all the perceptions of the moment. These recordings include feelings, emotions, sounds, and all other perceptions.
Alcohol Drug Cravings and Linked Perceptions
Did you ever walk by a bakery that smells of freshly cooked bread or pastries? What effect does it have on you? Or do you react to a song that used to be your song as a couple? Did you notice how it brings back memories and emotions? Some people have vivid pictures of moments in the past, and some relive emotions. The perceptic in the memory varies from person to person. The same happens with mind-altering substances.
A person records the moment they took a line of coke with the voice of a dealer saying, “here is your quarter-gram baggy.”
At some moment in the future, this person sees small baggies on a counter in a store, which triggers memories of coke baggies.
Which, in turn, connects to drug use, snorting, and the sensation that comes with the high. Soon after or at that moment, they feel the need to use cocaine again. This is a mental craving. There are other issues with drug and alcohol cravings, structural ones, at a chemical level.
Getting Rid of Drug Cravings
The best-known way to handle alcohol or drug cravings is first to stop using mind-altering substances. Next is to enter a good addiction treatment program that helps one learn the tools to deal with future cravings. Call a professional referral counsellor for more information on facilities that treat misuse of drugs, alcohol, and other mind-altering substances.