Cravings refer to an uncontrollable desire to fulfill one’s need for a particular object or habit. As a person’s craving increases, the person loses control over the frequency and amount of substance consumed. Cravings often cause teens with substance use disorders (SUD) to act impulsively and make poor decisions. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a teen’s susceptibility to drug craving occurs because their young brains lack the full development to resist drug cravings compared to an adult.
Why Is It So Hard For Teenagers to Resist?
As teenagers’ minds continue to develop, it leaves them vulnerable to the effects of drug use. NIDA continues to explain that drugs like cocaine, meth, and heroin cause changes in how the brain communicates with itself, which leads to nerve cells sending and receiving information incorrectly. Thus, the mind believes it is receiving a reward, even if the drug is damaging to the body. In a teenager, this happens much faster than in adults because their brains are still developing.
As teens’ brains mature into adulthood, their capacity for maturity, self-control, and decision-making increases drastically. This is why teenagers can become impulsive and impatient. Their brains aren’t developed enough to fully understand the consequences of their actions, making it difficult to avoid continued drug use.
Often, teens find it difficult to avoid peer influence. Unfortunately, teens with SUDs constantly struggle because they don’t want to distance themselves from friends who consume substances. They also often assume that they can be around friends who use substances without giving in to drugs themselves. However, at such a young age, they are more susceptible to succumbing to their cravings.
What Are the Signs of Drug Cravings?
Knowing your child’s triggers can help discern the signs of them craving drugs. Signs of cravings include environmental triggers (people or places), emotional and mental triggers, or another stimulus such as picking up a cigarette.
Teens who struggle with drug cravings experience the following triggers or signs :
- Anniversaries of trigger events, such as a death or parent’s divorce
- Undergoing a psychologically traumatic event
- Mental illnesses like depression, PTSD, bipolar disorder, etc.
- Overwhelming feelings of sadness, anxiety, or resentments
- Decreased concentration, disorientation, and memory loss
- Anxiety and loss of interest in friends, family, and school
Though the list of triggers may look complex, you can find many tools to assist your teen with preventing these triggers from taking over their sobriety.
Using Coping Tools to Overcome Drug Cravings
Coping skills are methods of generating a sense of self-discipline over a particular matter. The key strategies for coping with drug cravings fall into several categories, like distractions, understanding what triggers your cravings, and problem-solving.
Here are some coping tools that can aid your teen to overcome a craving:
- Distracting Yourself: Cravings always pass if given time. Use a distraction until the craving passes. Try journaling, watching your favorite movie, listening to music, or calling a fellow peer.
- Try a Hobby: Hobbies are a great way to express yourself and explore your creativity. Drumming, dancing, or taking an art class can help you work through the urge to use again.
- Beat the Trigger: You can beat your cravings with a little help from your environment. If certain bars, restaurants, or people trigger your cravings for alcohol, try socializing in an alternative setting.
- Practicing Mindfulness: Mindfulness is the act of focusing your mind on the present moment. It can apply to many aspects of life, including your treatment. Meditation is a great way to focus your mind away from cravings.
- Preparing for Emotional Days or Events: It’s hard to resist temptation when we feel sad, stressed, or angry. For the best chance of staying on track, make sure you prepare for these moments ahead of time. Find strategies to deal with your emotions on those days.
- Discover Your Faith: A faith practice or spiritual path can help a person during difficult times. Find a faith practice that clicks with you.
Clearfork Academy Treatment Makes a Difference
Clearfork Academy provides participants with coping skills and tools to overcome their drug cravings. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a combination of medical detoxes, behavioral therapies, and educational counseling supports long-term recovery by reducing cravings and managing withdrawal symptoms. Medical detoxification assists with minimizing drug cravings. Our team of licensed clinicians will offer a range of therapies to unpack the cravings for drugs and learn new coping skills. With the help of our team, we can help make your son’s journey towards long-term sobriety possible.
The triggers that cause cravings differ from person to person. Some people may be more affected by the sight of others using substances. Others may find their social environment triggering, while some might experience triggers due to unpleasant emotions, such as sadness or anxiety. However, there are many ways to overcome both triggers and cravings. The most important thing is to acknowledge that it’s happening. It is important to speak with your loved ones and professionals regarding your urges. At Clearfork Academy, we provide professional care to assist with coping. Our treatments and therapies function to help you address triggers and cravings in a safe, healthy, and supported environment. Through our therapeutic process, one can discover the root of their addiction by learning how to process thoughts and feelings constructively. One of our goals is to help you live a more meaningful life. Learn more by calling us today at (888) 966-8604.