Overdoses are the #1 cause of accidental death in the United States, most stemming directly from opiate use. Considered a public health crisis, drug addiction is uprooting communities, dismantling families and causing many to lose their lives, which could be easily prevented with the right tools and systems to help those struggling reach active sobriety.
Nearly 69,000 people overdosed on opioids in 2020, a significant increase over the previous year, due partly to the mental and emotional toll of the COVID-19 pandemic. Those addicted to opiates often try to recover and end their addiction altogether but continually face extreme cravings that they don’t feel strong enough to conquer.
There are ways to overcome opiate cravings for good, and we’re here to help you through it.
Also known as narcotic painkillers or opioid drugs, opiates are wreaking havoc on many lives due to their highly addictive makeup. Often initially prescribed to alleviate pain after extensive surgery or due to a long-term injury, opiates quickly become overused by thousands of users each year.
Opiates work by binding to the opiate receptors in the human body and brain, blocking pain at the source. Aside from relieving pain, opiates can provide a euphoric and relaxing feeling for many who take them.
When misused or overused, opiates flood the brain with dopamine, creating intense feelings of euphoria and encouraging the brain to continually repeat the same behavior for the same result, thus causing addiction.
For people who become addicted to opioids, the drugs act as a replacement for euphoria in everyday life. In fact, those diagnosed with opioid use disorders say opiate drugs create positive sensations of warmth, happiness and acceptance inside of them that they cannot get from the outside world.
They have also described feeling content in a way they have never experienced before. These feelings alone often motivate them to continue to crave them and use them despite the significant health and overdose risks.
If you or a loved one crave opiates, it may be a reaction to self-soothing through overuse of opiate drugs over time.
Like any cravings, opiate cravings will eventually pass but can be particularly difficult to handle as the actual brain chemistry has changed due to consuming them.
The good news is there are healthy and effective ways to reduce cravings and move forward into long-term recovery.
First, when you’re experiencing opiate cravings, know that they won’t last forever. Cravings typically come in waves, affecting you from a couple of hours to a couple of days at a time.
Next, know that you’re not weak or doing something wrong in your recovery journey when you experience cravings. In fact, cravings for anything are entirely normal and part of everyone’s life at some point. Cravings are common, whether for drugs, food, caffeine or a long morning run.
Recognizing cravings is the first step in overcoming them. When you experience them, acknowledge that you’re dealing with a craving and find healthy coping mechanisms to push past it.
Some of the best ways to curb a craving in its tracks are to:
- Avoid triggers
- Question the urge
- Keep track
- Distract yourself with a healthy alternative that makes you happy (exercise, a good book or your favorite food)
To overcome opiate addiction and hard-to-navigate cravings, consistency is essential, and that starts with a healthy foundation to build your new life on. One of the most critical aspects of sobriety is establishing a healthy environment to overcome. This includes where you spend your time and who you spend your time with.
When it comes to establishing a healthy foundation, routines play a huge role in solidifying what your new, sober everyday life will look like. From how you spend your time to who you spend it with, routines matter.
Don’t shy away from writing down a daily routine list or schedule that you stick to during your first few weeks or months of sober living.
Routines also help you stop opiate cravings in their tracks by leaving no room to think about them or be around them.
Who you spend your time with matters now more than ever. To maintain a long-standing run with sobriety, you must choose to surround yourself with people who acknowledge and support your recovery journey, especially on days when cravings and sobriety feel harder to handle.
A few ways to ensure you are around the right people include:
- Attending opioid addiction support groups
- Getting a sponsor to help you through the journey
- Talking openly about your wins and struggles in recovery with trusted family and friends
- Removing people from your life who may hinder your sobriety or feed into your cravings
- Building up healthy boundaries to protect your inner peace during recovery
- Connecting with others in sobriety to support one another
If you find yourself or a loved one struggling with opioid addiction or living with regular opiate cravings, we can help.
Our expert addiction specialists at Miramar Recovery are here to provide those living with addiction with the tools, resources and support they need. Start today and reach long-term recovery with advanced opiate addiction treatment options tailored to your unique health and wellness needs.