What a Craving Feels Like

Regular people have cravings, I know, but I have always thought an addict’s craving must be quite different. I’m open to the fact that I could be wrong, but I have always said that if people felt the way I felt drinking alcohol, everybody would be an alcoholic.

I was in counseling, going through a program called DBT (dialectical behavior therapy) quite recently where we discussed cravings. The therapist said that most cravings last 10 seconds. So, I was supposed to think of that and allow the craving to take its course and tell myself that I do not have to act on that craving.

I don’t find that to be true at all for myself. A true craving for me is first an obsessive thought that is accompanied by a physical craving. It is powerful, it relentless, it is oppressive, and, if I do nothing to counteract it, I will give in.

Nobody can understand the process an addict goes through to obtain the object of their addiction. Surely in the 30 minutes it takes to get dressed, put on shoes, get in the car, drive, park, get into the supermarket and so on, there are many opportunities to just stop. A sane person would get a hold of themselves. In the Big Book, the phrase used is that the disease of alcoholism is ‘cunning baffling and powerful’ (page 58) So maybe psychologists can understand it, but I’m not a psychologist and I can’t explain it even though I’ve seen it over and over again.

For me, the addiction is not about the 95% of when my mood is altered. It is the first 2 or 3 minutes of having that feeling of release of tension in me and the fear falling off and a great sigh of relief. The rest is just chasing after that feeling in an idiotic way, somehow being able to be in denial about how it’s all going to turn out.

They used to have commercials about Nestea that I use as a mental visual. It’s from 1980…..a man driving through the desert dry and cracked and dusty and tired, and he reaches for the Nestea and it’s that moment when he first tastes the refreshment that is the peak. Like falling into a swimming pool. Relief from the dry, dusty, thirsty road.

To me, this also occurs when there is sin in a person’s life. They have a mental assent at some point that kind of lightly topples the domino and the sin is realized. I have stood many times on the precipice, having the option to choose right or wrong and just in one small breath I make the decision to do the wrong thing.

Well, that’s a post for another day.

What a Craving Feels Like

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