Tag Archives: craving

The Truth About Addiction Triggers

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Earlier I read an article in Psychology Today outlining the so-called ‘truth’ about addiction triggers. The author, Lance Dodes M.D— after bashing current methods of treatment— begins to claim there is a simple recipe to cure the addicts darkest thoughts about using. He gives an example, a scenario of a triggered mind that applies the typical means of coping: distraction. This is something we are taught in most treatment centers and even in the rooms. Busying our heads with thoughts of consequences, positives of sobriety or just ‘surfing the wave’ (that is a common term used to describe a moment of craving that is observed as it passes) are all means of distraction. However, what Dodes suggests is not to look forward. Instead, he wants us to look back.

Reviewing what caused the trigger in the first place can better prepare us for future cravings. Basically, predicting the trigger before it happens. It sounds simple enough! So today I put it to the test. I thought back to every moment within this day and even this entire week where I felt a craving coming on. What had started it? What was I thinking, feeling or doing before my brain let out an intense sense of despair, longing for me to seek out a drug. I came up with this list:

  • I asked someone what drugs were prominent in the area I just moved to… Meth was the answer. I thought, “I have never tried meth before, I should find someone who has meth… Where can I find someone who has meth? I heard it like cocaine x2, I love cocaine!”
  • “I’m completely bored. I have some pills I can take. I’ve been avoiding those pills. No one will know. I’m so bored.”
  • “M.I.A is so amazing. Live fast die young, bad girls do it well! YOLO! Her new album is killer, I should listen to it soaring and take a walk down the highway.”
  • “Ooo. There is so much alcohol here. I bet they wouldn’t even notice if I took a bottle or two…”

As embarrassing as it was to see my thoughts so vulnerable to my feelings and surroundings, it certainly brought light to the facts that my cravings come in waves of curiosity, boredom, and grandiosity. I wasn’t surprised. I began to analyze myself even further, trying to connect these to the steps and the realization of your character defects.

An addicts curiosity stems from their first high. They like this feeling. They think, “what is this? Why do I feel this way? I wonder what other ways I can feel…” Personally, my curiosity goes all the way to questioning what reality is and if it even exists. I could go into all that, but I think you’d rather I didn’t.

Boredom is such an easy way to find a craving. It leads to so much more like isolation, negative thoughts and loss of motivation. When we find ourselves in this place, I find it best to have an escape route. Something that will surely keep you occupied and away from those triggers. Make a list of all the (sober) activities you can engage in while your alone. Heres a few off of mine:

  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Workout
  • Read (leisurely or texts from AA/NA/CA)
  • Journal
  • Call someone
  • Whatch netflix (put a damn timer on it though!)
  • Cook something complicated
  • Pamper yourself

As far as grandiosity, thats a tough one to break. When I first picked up smoking, I thought I was cool. Every time I snuck out of the house, I thought I was cool. When I stole drugs, I thought I was cool. All the times I did drugs by myself, I thought I was cool. It didn’t matter if no one knew or no one cared, in my mind… I was cool. Its hard to beat that feeling out of your brain! I managed to quite smoking cigarettes after just a short summer of doing it. I picked it up again to smoke cocaine in the most subtle way but I always hid it cause it smelled slightly and I didn’t want anyone to notice (because I hated to share). I dropped smoking cigarettes as my addiction traveled to something new but now that I’m sober, I’ve picked it back up. I have recognized the triggers to my smoking to be not only social but that need to feel cool. Whenever I watch a show or movie and someone is smoking, it seems so delicate yet subtly rebellious. I want to give that off. I want to be like them. Its a horrible way to go about things but I have to admit to my defects of character. I feel better than everyone (especially here in boo-foo Florida)! I think, “I’m from the Chicago, I’ve traveled halfway around the world, I’ve been crazy before, I’ve tripped and dipped in an assortment of illegal drugs, I break the law, I am cool…” Gosh, thats awful! Thats not the way to think! Thats not healthy! Thats grandiose (and a good sign of mania according to my psychologist)… but thats the way it goes.

Certain music or other forms of media can trigger these feelings. Even people that give off that badass aura can make me want to prove my own rebellious past. But its not about my ego is it? Its about my recovery and my sanity. Change the song or station and take pity on the addict that is still suffering. I try and think, it once was you, but you’ve moved on. You don’t have to be that person anymore and when I dig deep down, I really don’t want to. What did it bring me but shifty attitudes, false friendships and power hunger? Thats no good.

Dodes article does ring true to some extent. To another, we may end up seeing everything as a possible trigger and finding that that observation is, in and of itself, a trigger. I could go back and forth all day long, but I think its time for you to take these opinions and reflect upon them and yourself. Leave any comments below on what your triggers are, how their formed and what you do with them! Don’t forget to like our page on Facebook and invite your friends 🙂

– Love and Light, Robyn

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Mind and Life: The Dalai Lama Talks Recovery

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ATTENTION!

There will be live webcasts of “Mind and Life XXVII – Craving, Desire, and Addiction” from Dharamsala, India on October 28 – November 1, 2013. The conference will focus its attention on craving, desire, and addiction, as these are among the most pressing causes of human suffering. By bringing contemplative practitioners and scholars from Buddhist and Christian traditions together with a broad array of scientific researchers in the fields of desire and addiction, hopefully new understandings will arise that may ultimately lead to improved treatment of the root causes of craving and its many manifestations. Live webcasts can be viewed at http://dalailama.com/live-english.

The sessions will be available for downloading and streaming after the event athttp://dalailama.com/

All times Indian Standard Time (IST = GMT+5.30)
There will be two session each day.
Morning session: 9:00am – 11:30am IST
Afternoon session: 1:00pm – 3:00pm IST

Day One – October 28: The Problem of Craving and Addiction
Morning Session: Introductory remarks
Afternoon sessions: The Role of Craving in the Cycle of Addictive Behavior

Day Two – October 29: Cognitive and Buddhist Theory
Morning session: Brain Generators of Intense Wanting and Liking
Afternoon session: Psychology of Desire, Craving, and Action: A Buddhist Perspective

Day Three – October 30: Biological and Cultural Views
Morning Session: The Role of Dopamine in the Addicted Human Brain
Afternoon Session: Beyond the Individual – The Role of Society and Culture in Addiction

Day Four – October 31: Contemplative Perspectives
Morning Session: From Craving to Freedom and Flourishing: Buddhist Perspectives on Desire
Afternoon Session: Contemplative Christianity, Desire, and Addiction

Day Five – November 1: Into the World
Morning Session: Application of Contemplative Practices in Treatment of Addiction
Afternoon Session: Concluding Remarks

For times in your region 9:00am IST on October 28th in Dharamsala, India is the same as 8:30pm PDT October 27th in Los Angeles, CA, USA: and 4:30pm BST on October 28th in London, England.

Photo of the Mind and Life XXIII Conference held in Dharamsala, India in October 2013. (Photo by Tenzin Choejor)

(copied from Dalai Lama Facebook page)

Why Do Recovering Addicts Crave Sugar?

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Maybe recovering addicts, like the rest of us, reach for sugary foods and drinks because they make us feel good. Think about it: it’s 2:00 in the afternoon and you’re at work and tired so you reach for a soda, candy bar, donut, or something else loaded with sugar.

Why do we crave sugar? What can we do to avoid it?

Blood sugar levels have an effect on our mood, energy level, and cravings for sugary foods. Sugar gives us energy and releases the chemical dopamine which is also called the “feel good” neurotransmitter. Recovering addicts increased dopamine with their drug of choice. But now that they no longer have the drug they are substituting sugar to get that high. If, for example, alcohol was your drug of choice, it is very high in sugar. Therefore, turning to sugar is an easy and cheap way for a recovering alcoholic to increase their blood sugar level and dopamine, and to chase that high. You will even see someone who is trying to cut down on their drinking substitute it with sugar, often starting in the morning with sugary drinks and using sugar in a similar way that they used alcohol.

The high that is produced from sugar is very short lived and usually followed by, what some people call, a “sugar crash”. The person physically feels worse, continues to crave sugar, and eat sugary foods. This is very similar to how someone craves their drug of choice.  Over time, just like with their drug of choice, the person will need more sugar to get the same “high”.

The most important part of recovery is to stay sober, but maintaining a healthy diet can also help you be more successful in your recovery as well as your work and life.  If you eat sugary foods or drink sugary drinks your blood sugar will rise and fall more rapidly than if you eat protein. Think about how you feel after you eat a couple of cookies compared to how you feel after you eat a turkey sandwich. If you eat a lot of sugar you may feel more agitated, depressed, or anxious, which can lead to relapse. When you feel good it is easier to overcome cravings, especially in early recovery.  Keeping your blood sugar level as consistent as possible by eating a healthy, balanced diet will minimize mood swings and can help you be successful in your recovery.