Do Addiction Cravings Last for Life?

Do Addiction Cravings Last for Life?

When someone is recovering from an addiction, knowing what to expect during their recovery and life after treatment remains an essential factor for their long-term prognosis. Every recovery journey is different, presenting people with unique challenges that aren’t cookie-cutter or entirely predictable. For many, the biggest question relates to their addiction cravings — how long will they last? Is this something they must deal with for the rest of their lives?

Defining Addiction Cravings

Knowing what drug and alcohol addiction cravings consist of can help you better prepare yourself for your ongoing recovery. These intense desires to use these substances trigger an urge within you to use them again, even if you’ve gone through the recovery process. These feelings can become so intense and overwhelming that it makes it difficult for the person to focus or think about anything but satisfying that particular urge.
Cravings are a sign of substance abuse disorders as defined by the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5.) When someone takes drugs or alcohol for extended periods, the reward centers in their brain get completely rewritten to focus primarily on releasing chemicals like dopamine when the body receives these substances.

How Long Do These Cravings Last?

While stopping the use of the substance in question can help rewrite your reward center in your brain, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the cravings immediately go away. It can take time for the cravings to subside and become less intense. However, simply because they become less frequent and severe does not mean they go away forever.  Throughout your recovery journey, there will be times when you feel the cravings come back, and it can be difficult to cope with them. They can occur when you least expect them, even when you haven’t used them in years. Having the right support system in place can help you deal with the cravings when you start to feel them coming on again.

Identifying Potential Craving Triggers

While cravings often involve a biochemical component, various environmental factors can trigger a craving when you least expect it. Knowing and understanding these triggers can help you better understand and manage these cravings as they occur. Some of the most common craving triggers include:

  • Going to a neighborhood where you used to buy or use drugs or alcohol
  • Seeing others selling these substances
  • Going and spending time in a bar
  • Frequently associating with people that drink or use drugs
  • Psychological stressors
  • Smelling the substance
  • Work or relationship problems
  • Chronic pain 
  • Untreated co-occurring psychological disorders
  • Encountering paraphernalia related to past us

Knowing how to identify these triggers and either avoiding them or seeking professional help can help you better manage these cravings and help you stay on your recovery journey.

The Most Common Types of Cravings

Drug and alcohol cravings can take many forms, presenting unique challenges that people must overcome to prevent a relapse. From physical urges to use the substance to intrusive thoughts, strong desires to use that make it challenging to think about anything else, and feelings of significant distress when you think about it, these cravings are often the most challenging part of your sustained recovery.
Taking the necessary steps to begin your recovery remains to find addiction treatment services that help focus on your post-rehab journey. Having a dedicated support network ready to help you learn how to cope with these cravings and provide you with the assistance you need in a pinch is vital for your sustained success.  Silver Pines Treatment Center has a variety of addiction treatment programs that help you through the initial recovery and provide assistance for your continued journey. We work with our patients individually to help them figure out the exact craving triggers and give them the tools they need to better manage these impulses.  If you or someone you love wants to learn how to better cope with their cravings, our treatment facilities and rehab centers are here to help. Contact our team at 267.209.7313 to learn more about aftercare programs today.


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