Am I craving, or am I addicted?
Updated: Nov 15
Craving and Addiction are subjective terms, Glenn points out on our most recent weekly sobriety podcast, as no blood test or science defines or measures - not that we have been able to find. The greater question is how does one play with the other, or said differently, how does one feed the other? And why should we pay attention?
Interestingly, this comes up as a Search term in over 100,000 incidents monthly. It tells us that people are curious about these behaviors or concerned about their own. Mike and Glenn explored these phenomenon’s, concluding that the relationship between cravings and addiction is not just an issue for the sober curious or those early in recovery but an issue that needs attention by all. Awareness may be the greatest asset that combats the segue that can happen between craving and addiction.
Look, cravings are natural. Once we have experienced the joy of something, it is natural to want to repeat that feeling. I tasted the chocolate; I like the chocolate; Gee, I wouldn't mind having the chocolate again. Cravings are mental gymnastics, brain markers, if you will. The brain associates with pleasurable acts and catalogs them for replay at random times. “Fleeting” is a typical timeline that supports a craving. That is not a scientific statement, just personal observations.
Addiction is a whole other animal that can only be rightly defined by science. What we know about addiction, however, is that it is cravings run amok- a deep draw to behavior that goes beyond reason and logic. Addiction does not flee; its grip yields no escape. Alcohol becomes the go-to.
Most people who visit sober.coffee, who listen to our podcasts and read these blogs, would agree that a craving is a strong desire to drink or use and that addiction is the inability to curb that crave.
The linchpin to recovery is found in our awareness. First, when we genuinely admit and surrender to the fact that we are addicted and powerless over the grip of alcohol and/or drugs. The awareness cannot stop there. The awareness must be ongoing and omnipresent in our minds, as cravings will naturally arise. We have seen many a strong sober person fall on the heels of self-confidence and unawareness. The drink will start with the craving, and it is the crave that needs to be squashed.
The objective of any alcoholic is to get through the day alcohol-free. Those triggers, or high-risk zones, will appear as craves throughout the day. To combat the crave, we need to use the tools the program has taught us. Tools like Learning to “suffer better” – accepting that we desire the drink but will fight through the temptation to take it. We can be prepared and “have a plan.” We can do things like change our scenery, pick up the phone and talk to another alcoholic - whether it be to get support or give support. Just getting our mind off the crave is the key. RE-DIRECT! The bottom line is to process the crave, accepting it for what it is. Be aware and respond accordingly.
This all sounds easy. Often it is not. But, like many other areas of our lives, we practice, practice, and then practice some more. Resistance and redirection eventually become our go-to, and the rewards are rich and real.
Enjoy the journey – it is worth it!
This publication is intended to support personal growth and should not be thought of as a substitute for the advice of healthcare professionals. The author's advice and viewpoints are their own.