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Urges To Drink in Recovery

by James Heller 22. September 2009 07:08

Tarzana Treatment Centers in Los Angeles is participating in Recovery Month 2009, in part, with articles about recovery during the month of September.  Most individuals suffering from alcoholism and drug addiction begin their recovery with alcohol and drug treatment.  So it is our pleasure to help bring awareness to the general public about the benefits of recovery to individuals, their families, and everyone with whom they interact.

Studies on alcoholism regarding the urge to drink alcohol are plentiful.  But no consensus has been achieved due to widely conflicting variables during testing, therefore in the results.  While it would be helpful in a clinical sense to know what drives these urges, alcoholics in recovery need to focus on the solution rather than the problem.

An urge can be defined as a strong, restless desire.  Anyone in recovery from alcohol dependence understands this feeling.  Urges can last for a moment or longer, can recur, and, more important, can lead to obsessions and relapse if they are left alone.

Urges occur over the lifetime of all alcoholics.  The good news is that the intensity and frequency of urges decrease significantly over the first few months of recovery.  Building a strong foundation in recovery is important during this time so that decreasing trend continues.  

Urges, in this context, are a function of alcohol cravings.  Alcohol Cravings decrease to a tolerable level within the first few months in recovery as do urges.  Medications, like Vivitrol, are being used to reduce these cravings so they don’t interfere with the critical foundational days in recovery.  And if cravings can be reduced, then the urges tend to go with them.

A free program by Alkermes, the makers of Vivitrol, called Touchpoints Recovery Support can be helpful to even those not taking Vivitrol.  The website at http://www.touchpointsrecoverysupport.com not only offers some tracking tools like the Urge to Drink Monitor and Recovery Status Monitor, but also offers useful activities like the Drink Refusal Exercise.

As sober days add up to 1 year, 2 years, 5, 10, and beyond, the urge to drink decreases at a slower pace, which is almost unnoticeable.  It gradually loses power over alcoholics with each passing year in recovery, although alcohol never completely loses its grip on alcoholics.  Instead of being a threatening experience, urges can be a reminder of what once was and how life can again be after “just one drink”.

When an urge hits an individual whose life has improved significantly in recovery, it tends to be for only a fleeting moment that may even bring laughter.  Keeping a fresh memory of how bad life was with alcohol makes the thought of drinking absurd.  These are especially good times to talk to others in recovery as they will benefit as much as you will.

Building a strong foundation in early recovery is the best overall defense against urges during the sober life of an alcoholic.  Medication assisted treatment with Vivitrol in early recovery can help reduce cravings and urges so the focus can be on laying that foundation.  Setting this stage for your future recovery will decrease the power of urges, and allows for meaningful and laughter-filled conversations.

Tarzana Treatment Centers in Los Angeles provides Vivitrol in alcohol treatment as part of our commitment to integrated behavioral healthcare.  If you or a loved one needs alcohol detox or alcohol and drug treatment, please call us now at 888-777-8565 or contact us here.

For more information on Vivitrol, contact us via email at vivitrol@tarzanatc.org.

Southern California Locations for Alcohol and Drug Treatment
Tarzana Treatment Centers has locations all over Southern California in Los Angeles County. Other than our central location in Tarzana, we have facilities in Lancaster in the Antelope Valley, Long Beach, and in Northridge and Reseda in the San Fernando Valley.