In dealing with drug addiction it is important that we first deal with the element of ignorance which can pose a great hindrance towards realizing the success of the objective which is total eradication of addiction from our lives and societies. It is no wonder in the holy book, it is recorded that “our people suffer because of lack of knowledge” meaning that if we are enlighten of the facts around addiction, then we will be comfortable addressing craving challenges and dealing with addiction of cocaine professionally for the betterment of our health. Doctor Akoury acknowledges that it is only after identifying the problem, and then can you start on the modalities of dealing with it. In other words you may not succeed in effectively dealing with addiction if you haven’t identified the kind of addiction you are struggling with. That is why we want to focus this discussion on the identification then we can react to what we now know. Our drug of exploration in this article is going to be cocaine and how users often crave for it even when they are in the treatment process. In our previous articles we did mentioned a lot of negativity of drugs cravings and strategies of coping as and when craving knocks on our appetite. We want to progress on that by focusing on two elements including recalling negative consequences and using self-talk.
Craving for drugs often make very many users of drugs to lose hope and give up on ever recovering from their addiction. This is so because many at times when one is receiving treatment for any kind of addiction, the urge to continue with the habit never dies and this is further complicated with the abundance of triggers around the users on treatment. Doctor Dalal Akoury (MD) and founder of AWAREmed Health and Wellness Resource Center is a veteran addiction expert having been in consistent practice for over two decades says that many at times when people are experiencing craving, they often have a tendency of only remembering the positive effects of cocaine or any other drug they have been craving for or using before; this is often the norm and it is regrettable that users in that state of mind often forget the negative consequences which has far reaching effects on their lives. But on the contrary, doctor Akoury says that it is very important that when experiencing craving, it is often effective for them (users) to remind themselves not just the benefits of abstinence but also the negative consequences of continuing indulgence in cocaine addiction. When this perfectly done, it therefore become much easier for patients to remind themselves that there is actually nothing good in using drugs let alone cocaine.
Because of the difference in feelings, doctor Akoury advices that it is necessary that users document in writing on a piece of paper all the reasons why they want to be abstinent and alongside that all the negative consequences of use. This list will act as their point of reference and therefore must be kept safely and be made available as and when it is needed. Remember that a glimpse of the document when confronted by intense craving for cocaine or a high-risk situation can remind the user of the negative consequences of cocaine use at a time when they are likely to recall only the euphoria. This may sound useless to many but it will impact to you very positively and by being reminded of the bitter consequences of using the drug, you are likely to engage in activities that will help in addressing craving challenges by distract you from causing more harm to yourself by avoiding further usage.
For many patients, a variety of automatic thoughts accompany craving but are so deeply established that patients are not aware of them. Automatic thoughts associated with craving often have a sense of urgency and exaggerated dire consequences. Some of those automatic thoughts may include the following:
- I have to use now
- I’ll die if I don’t use or
- I can’t do anything else until I use.
Doctor Akoury is of the opinion that in coping with craving, it is important that both the patient and the therapist should collectively recognize the automatic thoughts and take measures of encountering them effectively. To help patients recognize their automatic thoughts, therapists can point out cognitive distortions that occur during your sessions with the client. Like for instances your therapist could point out that a few times today you’ve said you feel like you have to use the drug and then the question would follow that, while you were having that feelings were you really aware of those thoughts when you mentioned them?. That is just one strategy and the other strategy could be when you are using a tape recorder, you could help your patients by slowing down the tape to recognize cognitions.
The good thing about recording the session is because it can be replayed over and over. Like for instance the patient may have said something and so you could play it again saying “when you decided to go out last night, you said that you really weren’t aware of thinking about using cocaine.” That is when he/she said but in your own professional evaluation you think otherwise, in situations like that you could play the tape again and help the user to try to remember what the night was like, sort of play it back like a movie in slow motion, we could find a couple of examples of things you said to yourself, maybe without even realizing it, that led to cocaine use.
Finally once automatic thoughts are identified, it then becomes much easier to counter or confront them using positive rather than negative self-talk which may include cognitions such as challenging the thought like “I won’t really die if I don’t have cocaine” and normalizing craving which can be very uncomfortable if not handled professionally. Remember that if you are having any concerns about craving for any drug and you are wondering where to begin from, you can call on doctor Dalal Akoury today for the commencement of your treatment today.