Monday, October 03, 2011

Cravings

This blog is over six years old.  I have never gone back and erased old posts.  I have edited a few of them, editing out information that could have been used to identify me or my family.  I have edited out a few things that were a bit too specific about my family.  Funny, I have left all my guts hanging all over the place for all eternity here.  

I get comments on some of my more heavily hit posts from years past.  Most are from people who do not like AA.  I used to post them, but I have decided there is enough negative stuff on the internet about AA, it doesn't need to be on my blog, so I delete.  

Recently I got a comment from someone who had many negative things to say, but it seemed his bottom line complaint about AA was that it taught you nothing about how to handle cravings.  I have mulled that over for weeks now.  And then someone at work talked to me about a medication her daughter has been prescribed and is taking for her alcohol cravings.  (The same medication I was taking for migraine prevention, which made me so ill... and is not FDA approved for alcohol cravings.)

Early on in sobriety, I decided that I was never going to be an expert about alcoholism, I wasn't going to learn about brain chemistry and other things that people like to talk about.  That is fine for them, but it is not germane to my recovery.  

But this talk about cravings has really taken me back to very basic facts about alcoholism...

There is a physical aspect of alcoholism, of course.  Some of us (like me) drink to the point that we become alcohol addicts.  Some of us don't.  Alcoholism has nothing to do with the amount that we drink, but its effect on us.  Obviously, if you have had enough alcohol in your system to be addicted to it, there will be a physical withdrawal.   There are 600,000 experts out there willing to take your money to get you over this physical withdrawal, I won't get into that.  I know that I sweated it out at home, and I am grateful for that.  (And for all I may write here, this is what people will see and comment on - "oh you don't understand!"  but I think I do understand... but shouldn't argue this point, as it is pointless.  I am sharing my experience here - and you can't argue with that.)

But once you get over that physical withdrawal, what you have left to deal with is your mind.  The strange mental twist that tells you it will be OK to have a drink this time, that this time it will be different.  That is not a craving.  That is alcoholic insanity.  As far as I know, there is no medication to treat this.  

But there is an entire program called Alcoholics Anonymous that will virtually eliminate this strange thinking that will lead us back to a drink which may lead us to our very death.   That is why we don't teach you how to handle your cravings... they are gone after a few days.  Replaced either by a way of life that is conducive to sobriety, or by alcoholic insanity that leads you back to a drink.  Take your pick.  

"The alcoholic at certain times has no effective mental defense against the first drink.  Except in a few rare cases, neither he or any other human being can provide such a defense.  His defense must come from a Higher Power. "  Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 43

12 comments:

Lou said...

“If it were possible for a majority of alcoholics to revert to controlled drinking, every alcoholic in AA would have found out about it a long time ago.”

Ditto for anyone's drug of choice.

Mary LA said...

Six years is quite an achievement! Some of us get over cravings within a day or three and some of us have a slow protracted withdrawal. It can be so dangerous to detox alone without supervision and yet many of us do that. What we do after the initial cravings go away remains a mystery.

Ms Jones said...

Well put. I know that when people first begin this journey everything scares them. I was the same way. You put the craving theory to bed. I remember being about 2 years sober and I called my sponsor boo hooing all over the place. I thought I was craving a drink. What I was doing was trying to solve a minor crisis w/ that old behavior. She talked me through the moment (ok, that experience) and I moved beyond. We say this all the time; if this program didn't work why would any of us stay?
Thank you MC for always and I mean ALWAYS telling the truth... You are much loved from the south.

Steve E said...

No treatment center for me--but there was a priest who did all but shove me in the door of Alcoholics Anonymous.
May God bless him.

Patty said...

Well said, Mary. Thanks!

Pammie said...

Very well said mary.
To me a craving only happens if I put in my body..and damn do I crave it then!
Any other time is an obession or a desire..these I can take to God.

Syd said...

My wife white knuckled her way into AA. A friend of mine tried to do that and nearly died from seizures. I have an anti-rehab reaction. But supervised detox sounds smart. I am glad that you stay the course on AA here. It is a wonderful program that works.

dAAve said...

My cravings disappeared when my HP took away the desire to drink.
That is MY experience.

Mary Christine said...

I feel I need to add - detoxing from alcohol alone CAN be dangerous - or fatal.

Sober In Hipsterville said...

I didn't know that anybody disliked AA. I'm counting days and everything is new to me (pink cloud and all that.) I'm blogging about it and will add you to my blog roll.

http://soberinhipsterville.blogspot.com/

Lisa said...

Six years...that's so wonderful! I'm inspired, thanks for the post. :)

Anath said...

I did a supervised home detox, and my detox nurse was adamant I should go on Acamprosate (I think it was called), which is supposed to reduce cravings for alcohol, and also if one did have a drink while on it the effect of the alcohol would not materialise. I was on it for three weeks then stopped, I didn't feel any different before, during or after at all. I believe my craving (or insanity like you say) was taken away by other means. Higher Power comes to mind. Or I was just ready to give it up... But what I do know is that I could not have stayed stopped without AA.

I love this post, thank you!