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Am I Experiencing Drug Cravings?

Am I Experiencing Drug Cravings?Experiencing cravings is a normal part of drug use. Cravings can occur as part of withdrawal or due to psychological addiction. Certain drugs produce stronger cravings than others. Fast-acting drugs can produce cravings even in Des Moines residents who are not addicted or physically dependent.

Addiction and Physical Dependence in Des Moines Residents

The terms addiction and dependence are often used interchangeably, but this is incorrect. Physical dependence occurs when the body comes to rely on a substance to function normally, and dependent users will experience withdrawal symptoms when the substance is absent from the system. Opiates (heroin, morphine), opioid pain killers (hydrocodone, oxycodone and hydromorphone) and sedatives (alcohol, barbiturates and benzodiazepines such as Valium and Xanax) produce strong physical dependence and severe withdrawal symptoms that include intense physical cravings for the drug.

Addiction, on the other hand, is a psychological phenomenon. Marijuana and stimulants like cocaine, methamphetamine and Ritalin do not produce physical dependence or severe physical withdrawal symptoms, but can be highly addictive nonetheless. Psychological addiction to these drugs occurs because long-term regular use alters the “pleasure center” or “reward circuit” of the brain. When the drug is absent, users will experience depression and psychological cravings for the drug.

Drugs that produce physical dependence can also produce psychological addiction. Opiates, opioids and sedatives also act on the reward center of the brain, and using these drugs regularly to achieve a euphoric high can produce physical dependence and psychological addiction.

Patients who use opioids or sedatives for medical reasons under a doctor’s supervision are at risk of becoming physically dependent, even if they have used the drugs exactly as directed and have never abused them recreationally or exceeded the dosage. Once dependence has occurred, patients may experience cravings for the drug.

Drug Cravings versus Desires to Use

Situational drug abuse can occur in the absence of addiction or dependence. Those who use drugs occasionally as part of a social scene and associate drug use with good times may experience a strong desire to repeat the experience. This desire does not necessarily constitute the true cravings of an addict. If you really want to go out and party with your friends and the thought of partying brings to mind thoughts of using drugs, but the thought passes and you can get on with your life in Des Moines without using drugs, then you are probably not experiencing true cravings.

If on the other hand you have an overwhelming desire to use a particular drug, you experience cravings whenever you don’t have your drug of choice, you don’t care what you do as long as you get your fix and you are happy to stay home by yourself and use drugs, then you may be addicted and experiencing real cravings.

Treatment for Addiction

Experiencing cravings may be a sign of physical dependence or psychological addiction. Overcoming physical dependence on certain drugs safely and successfully requires medically supervised detox services, since self-conducted detox can be dangerous or even fatal. Once detox is complete, counseling for addiction will help a recovering addict avoid reacting to cravings or relapsing. If you would like help ending drug cravings, call our toll-free 24 hour helpline today.