Opiates can be one of the hardest drugs to stop using. People who become addicted to opiates often experience such intense cravings that, despite often experiencing catastrophic consequences, they return to using the drug. When a person starts using opiates and continues to use them over longer periods of time, changes in the brain happen. These changes often make the person who becomes addicted think and feel that there is no other choice but to continue opiate use. Cravings for the drug, coupled with withdrawal symptoms that occur after the person becomes physically dependent, often make the person feel that stopping use is impossible. The person’s brain actually works against him or her, convincing them that the only option is to continue to use.
Medications that help curb cravings
Although stopping opiate use is difficult, it is not impossible. There are several treatment options and tips that a person who is addicted can try. One option for treatment is medication replacement therapy. There are several medications that can reduce the intensity of the cravings a person experiences. These include methadone, Suboxone/buprenorphine and naltrexone/Vivitrol. These medications work in the same area of the brain that opiates do and help to reduce cravings and block the euphoric effects of the opiates. When people take these medications as prescribed, they can be very effective in helping a person stop using opiates without having to experience severe withdrawal symptoms and intense cravings.
Minimize your triggers
An important part in reducing cravings is to minimize a person’s exposure to triggers. These can include certain places, certain people, seasons, and any number of other things. People can work with counselors and sponsors to figure out what their personal triggers are and then work to figure out how they can avoid them or minimize their exposure to them. If a person has fewer triggers, they are likely to have fewer cravings.
Your support network
Another critical way to deal with cravings is to have a solid support network in place. If a person is experiencing a craving and they can call a counselor, a sponsor, peers in recovery, or family members to help talk them through it, they will be much less likely to follow through with using. A strong support network is an important foundation for a successful recovery.
Developing coping skills is another crucial way to deal with cravings. This can be done with a counselor, with a sponsor, peers, and other recovery supports. If a person develops various coping skills to deal with things like stress, anxiety, and other issues that can trigger cravings, it is much more likely that cravings will not turn into using. Coping skills can include things like relaxation techniques, journaling, or spending time on hobbies and interests that may have been forgotten during active addiction.
Part of the healing process
The most important thing to remember is that cravings are a normal part of the recovery process. It doesn’t mean that person is going to relapse or is doing something wrong if they have a craving. It just means that he or she needs to make sure that things are in place to stop that craving from turning into continued use. With the right treatment, tools, and support network, people can successfully recover from opiate addiction.
If you or someone you know in Frederick County, Maryland is struggling with opioid dependence issues, please contact the Frederick County Health Department at 301-600-1755 or call 2-1-1 for help and treatment options 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Airtime and other charges may apply for cell phone users. Mobile users may also call 1-866-411-6803.