One of the trademarks of Alcohol and Opioid Use Disorders are cravings. The Merriam Webster dictionary defines cravings as: “an intense, urgent, or abnormal desire or longing.”

In people with substance use disorders, cravings are not “abnormal” but actually the result of the brain “remembering” past compulsive use that is associated with the release of neurochemicals which activate the pleasure parts of the brain.  These neurochemicals can trigger intense cravings.

Cravings Become More Apparent During COVID-19

We are hearing from our patients that this time of the COVID 19 pandemic and social isolation is proving to be a very vulnerable and delicate time for those in recovery.  Even more vigilance and active engagement in recovery efforts are required to stay sober.

Here are some tools that we can use to deal with cravings now more than ever:

  • Triggers.  Know your own personal triggers.  Is it a certain person, place or thing?  Is it boredom?  Loneliness?  Fear or anxiety?  These are all very real feelings right now and being able to identify and acknowledge them can be very helpful.
  • Distraction.  Is there something else you can be doing right now to distract your brain from the current thoughts and cravings you are having?
  • Change your environment.  This can be especially difficult right now when we are homebound.  Taking a walk around the block, sitting in your yard, cleaning your car, and organizing your garage are just a few ideas to get you into a different physical environment.
  • Reach out.  Contact a friend, sponsor or family member who is supportive of your recovery and talk it through.
  • Meetings are available through phone calls and online platforms
  • Self -care. This is a good time for self-care.  Meditation or exercise can be particularly helpful.  
  • Continue the medications that have been prescribed that help with cravings such as Naltrexone.
  • Pause.  Remember that this too shall pass.  Cravings do pass and we don’t have to give into them.
  • Know that you are not alone!


Outpatient Detox is Still Possible

We are available and providing outpatient detox services during this very challenging time.   Please call us at 877-773-3869.  Our offices are open and set up for safe, effective detoxes in full compliance with COVID-19 precautions.  We can detox you using our proven Coleman Method and help you move through any triggers or cravings you may be experiencing using telemedicine services and online resources. We are here for you now more than ever.

Deborah Reich, M.D.