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Paying Attention: Fighting Marijuana Addiction Cravings

Man offering jointFighting cravings requires attention. It requires skill. And yes, it requires effort. While it would be nice if recovery were simple, easy and straightforward, there will always be challenges and triggers. You can’t forget about your recovery. You have to dedicate time and awareness. You have to fight cravings you will inevitably face. Treatment makes addressing cravings simple, if not easy, at the outset. Location and accountability limit your options for relapse. You have access to personal and professional support at all times. You build skills and gain tools for fighting cravings. After treatment, you have to pay closer attention. You have to actively employ your recovery skills. Support is still available around the clock, but it is now up to you to know when you need it and to seek it out. You need to pay attention to cravings and your response to them. Lifelong sobriety is more than possible. However it will not be handed to you. You will have to practice recovery every day. You will have to be aware of yourself, your environment, and those around you. By paying attention, you can find and keep the healthy, rewarding, and drug-free life that everyone deserves.

Pay Attention to Yourself to Fight Marijuana Addiction Cravings

Addiction lets you ignore how you feel. It gives you new ways to think and act. You are no longer an independent mind or body. When you find recovery, you regain your identity. You begin to feel again. This can be painful at first, but it comes with long-term rewards. You find stability and identity. You learn who you are and work towards becoming who you want to be. When cravings strike, paying attention to yourself can save your recovery. Take a moment to look at your thoughts and reactions to a certain circumstance or emotion. Emotions and cravings are closely related.

WebMD[1] shares the results of a study that found, “The region of the brain associated with regulating emotions, the prefrontal cortex, also appeared to show increased activity when decisions about cravings were taking place…Cravings involve neural dynamics parallel to those regulating emotions.”

When you pay attention to yourself and your emotions, you are also paying attention to cravings. Stepping back to reflect on either gives you the time to make a less impulsive response to your feelings. It gives you time to think about how you feel and why. Paying attention lets you know what moods challenge your recovery. This lets you work with professionals and develop further strategies for responding to or regulating these potentially triggering emotions. It lets you fight cravings rather than respond to them. You get to maintain and strengthen your recovery. Paying attention requires effort. It ultimately results in an easier recovery and a healthier automatic response to your own emotions.

Pay Attention to Your Environment to Fight Marijuana Addiction Cravings

Your environment influenced your marijuana use. It will also influence your cravings. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry[2] explains, “Neutral environmental cues can acquire, through Pavlovian conditioning, the ability to trigger drug seeking even after long periods of abstinence.” You don’t have to be in a “dangerous” situation to experience cravings. Any sight or smell connected to past use can lead to a desire to use.  Pay attention to when and where you crave marijuana. Avoid these situations if possible. Have relapse prevention strategies ready if not.

Pay Attention to Others to Fight Marijuana Addiction Cravings

No one is to blame when it comes to addiction. Addiction is not your fault. It is not the fault of a family member, friend or romantic partner. However all of these individuals can and do influence drug use. Be aware of the role others play in your substance abuse. This helps you examine how others influence your thoughts and actions and helps you fight cravings. Not all personal, peer, or professional influence is bad. In fact much of it is good and supports your recovery.

The American Society of Addiction Medicine[3] explains, “Recovery from addiction is best achieved through a combination of self-management, mutual support, and professional care provided by trained and certified professionals.”

Recovery begin with professional care. Through this treatment, you learn how to pay attention to yourself to manage cravings. You begin to form close, supportive bonds with peers. Treatment lets you practice interpersonal skills. It gives you opportunities to meet people with similar values, goals and life experiences. Treatment professionals help you pay attention to your relationships. They help you determine which ones support your recovery. You learn which connections may have enabled or actively encouraged your substance use. Social factors influence addiction development. They also support recovery. Pay attention to the influence others have on your thoughts and actions. Encourage healthy relationships to fight addiction cravings.

Learning to Pay Attention

Attention and awareness are important recovery tools. What can learn about yourself and the world around you when you put them in place? How can you best use them to fight addiction cravings? Call Michael’s House to learn more about these and other tips and trick for long-term recovery maintenance. We are here to help you from first questions to ongoing aftercare support.


[1] http://www.webmd.com/smoking-cessation/news/20100802/cravings-emotions-use-same-part-brain. “Cravings, Emotions, Use Same Part of Brain.” WebMD. 2 Aug 2010. Web. 27 Mar 2017.

[2] http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278584607003144. “Modeling the Role of Environment in Addiction.” Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry. 15 Nov 2007. Web. 27 Mar 2017.

[3] http://www.asam.org/quality-practice/definition-of-addiction. “Definition of Addiction.” American Society of Addiction Medicine. 19 Apr 2011. Web. 28 Mar 2017.