When you decide to quit using cocaine, it takes your body some time to catch up with your decision. While the body still believes that it "needs" the drug, you will likely experience cravings. These cravings are not permanent, and you will have them less and less over time, but what are you to do until then? You have to have a plan to cope.
Physical vs. Psychological Cravings
All cravings start in the brain; they are not physical in nature. When you are going through withdrawal, you might have some physical symptoms, like shakiness, chills, and pain, but these are not physical cravings; they are symptoms of the body detoxing from the drug. Cravings are in no way connected to your physical health, and it is very rare to need medical attention when detoxing from this drug.
Step One: Look to the Root of Your Cravings
It's likely your cravings don't just occur out of the blue. They are triggered by persons, places, situations, thoughts and feelings.
When you have a craving, write down:
- Where you are
- Who you're with
- What you're doing
- How you're feeling
If your trigger is a person or place, avoid them for now as much as you possibly can. If it's a situation like having extra money on hand, think of ways to prevent being in that situation. For example, direct deposit your paychecks and don't pull out cash.
Step Two: Ride the Craving Out
If your craving is triggered by a thought or feeling, it can be tougher to avoid. Recognize the craving when it comes and think of something to do besides using cocaine. For example, if you're tempted to use when you're tired, go for a walk, take a nap, do yoga, write a gratitude list, have some green tea, call a friend or support group member, etc.
Start brainstorming all your options. Write them down. Your craving will peak and you may think you have to use, but it will also subside. You will be okay. Do not use other drugs of abuse, like alcohol or cigarettes, to cope. It can actually make your cravings worse.
Step Three: Remember the Bad Stuff
When you have a cocaine craving, the brain tends to focus only on positive feelings associate with the drug. It conveniently "forgets" the negative consequences of using.
Remind yourself of all the trouble the drug has caused you. Write down the reasons you quit using cocaine and carry them in your wallet. Read through them whenever a craving hits.
Step Four: Get Medical Help
If you are having a really hard time with your cravings, even after attempting the steps above, talk to your doctor or recovery counselor about prescription drugs designed to help (such as Neurontin, Sabril, and Gablofen). You can also try taking NAC, an over-the-counter amino acid supplement.
Ask about potential side effects of these drugs before you take them so you can make an educated decision.
Don't Give Up
If you give in to one of your cravings and use cocaine, it doesn't mean that you failed at your recovery. It is simply a setback. Don't let the shame of relapse destroy all the hard work you've done so far. Just pick yourself up, call a supportive person, and try again.