In our part one of this series of articles about the cognitive behavioral approach of treating addiction, we had highlighted some of the areas to focus on as listed below and we were able to explore on the first one i.e. understanding craving. You can actually make reference on that as we progress but for the purpose of this article we want to continue from where we left and see how best we can describe craving which is one of the biggest elements when it comes to solving the problem of addiction. Our team of experts from the home of addiction solutions (AWAREmed Health and Wellness Resource Center) under the able leadership of doctor Dalal Akoury who is also the founder of the facility, we want to explore on the possibilities of addressing mind perception about cocaine addiction with a view of finding lasting solutions to the scourge of addiction.
Having understood what cravings is our next point would be to get the essential sense of the patients’ experience of craving. This can be very broad and may include having the knowledge about the following information.
What is craving like for you? – Doctor Akoury says that cravings or urges as it is commonly known is experienced in many different of ways by different patients. Like for instance an individual could say, the experience is primarily somatic that is to say, a patient would just get a feeling in the stomach or the heart races or just start smelling the element being craved for. For others, craving is experienced more cognitively; like for example one would say that “I need it now” or “I can’t get it out of my head” or “It calls on me.” Or it may be experienced effectively; for example, “I get nervous” or “I’m bored.” Depending on your individual experience, it is important that when seeking for help, you let your therapist know your experience with craving, this way they will be able to get to the roots of the problem and offer solutions effectively.
Are you bothered by craving? – There is tremendous variability in the level and intensity of craving reported by patients. For some, achieving and maintaining control over craving will be a principal treatment goal and take several weeks to achieve. Other patients deny they experience any craving. Gentle exploration with patients who deny any craving especially those who continue to use cocaine often reveals that they misinterpret a variety of experiences or simply ignore craving when it occurs until they suddenly find themselves using. Other, abstinent patients, who deny they experience any craving often, when asked, admit to intense fears about relapsing.
How long does craving last for you? – In this journey doctor Akoury says that to make the point about the duration and nature of craving, it is often very important for professionals to point out to their patients that they have rarely let themselves experience an episode of craving without giving in to it.
How do you try to cope with it? – Getting a sense of the coping strategies used by patients will help the therapist identify their characteristic coping styles and select appropriate coping strategies.
The next point to focus on would be the identification of the triggers to the substance of abuse. It is important that therapists should work very closely with their patients to develop a comprehensive list of their own triggers. Some patients become overwhelmed when asked to identify cues. From experience doctor Akoury says that when handling addicts, you will notice that someone may even associate breathing with cocaine use. Again, it may be most helpful therefore to concentrate on identifying the craving and cues that have been most problematic to the patient in recent weeks. This should commence immediately during the therapy session and this should include self-monitoring of craving so that patients can begin to identify new and more subtle cues as they arise.
When considering the avoidance of cues it is always advisable that you keep in mind the general strategy of “recognize, avoid, and cope.” These strategies are particularly applicable to craving for all substances and not necessarily cocaine. Doctor Akoury says that real experts would first identify the patients’ most problematic cues then make an exploration of the degree to which some of those could be avoided. This will come with certain sacrifices including breaking ties or reducing contact with individuals who use or supply you with cocaine, getting rid of paraphernalia, staying out of bars or other places where cocaine is used, or no longer carrying money, as in the following example:
Finally in dealing with the minds perception about cocaine addiction one needs not to let any stone unturned. I am saying this because we are all aware that cocaine is an illegal substance but other substances like alcohol which are legal can form a perfect avenue for the consumption of cocaine without being noticed. Besides that the ability to pay for the substance is another point of consideration. When the financial strength allows users to access cocaine could easily form a solution in an alcoholic drink. Therefore experts from AWAREmed Health and Wellness Resource Center recommends that for any meaningful treatment to be realized, therapists and other professionals in the line of substance abuse must spend considerable time exploring the relationship between alcohol and cocaine with patients who use them together to such an extent that alcohol becomes a powerful cocaine cue. Specific strategies to reduce, or preferably, stop alcohol use should be explored. We appreciate that doing this may not be easy for many people and that is why doctor Akoury will be readily available on call for you to schedule for an appointment so that any pending or unclear issues relating to addiction can be attended to professionally.