Environmentally triggered cravings are similar to chemically triggered cravings except the drug related memories or mental image pictures are environmentally triggered. (Click here to read Chemically Triggered Cravings blog) That is, the person suddenly recalls past events of times they used drugs which are triggered by events in their present environment.  This results in their craving the drug or drugs they used in the past.

 Drug users will have traumatic mental image pictures of drug use and these pictures will contain not only the memories of the drug usage itself but also the circumstances surrounding the drug use.  Things like where the drugs were bought, who sold the drugs to them, how they felt at the time and many more thoughts and feelings will be present in these mental image pictures.

 If a drug user is driving a car and passes a certain street, he or she may be reminded of trips to the drug dealer’s house and experience again, to a certain degree, all the anxiety and stress related to that incident.  If the person sees a liquor ad on a billboard, he or she can be reminded of drunken incidents and the associated pains or pleasures that were experienced at that time.

Once a drug user has used drugs for an extended period of time, he or she will have millions of subtle, and obvious, people, places and things in the environment that “remind” them or trigger the thought of drug use.

A drug user may watch TV and see actors acting out a scene about drinking and being drunk.  As a result, this same drug user who has similar memories may suddenly find him or herself engulfed in those negative memories of their drunken ordeals.

 One of the strongest environmental triggers are those that are directly connected with the use of drugs.  For instance, someone who uses a straw to snort cocaine may have drug related memories triggered by be seeing a straw.  Similarly an IV drug user may experience an overwhelming desire to get and use drugs if they have blood drawn at a doctor’s office. 

 Since the “tools” of drug use are often straws, razors, hypodermic needles, shot glasses, mirrors, cigarette lighters, glass tubes and a whole assortment of other very common objects the person may come into contact with on a day to day basis, the potential for the drug user to be constantly reminded of past drug use is staggering.

 What this means for the person who is attempting to quit using drugs is that every day their attention can easily be involuntarily pulled away from what is going on in the present and become fixed on past drug related memories.  Obviously environmentally triggered cravings, just like chemically triggered cravings are very distracting for the individual.

 The person finds it hard to concentrate.  They suffer from mood swings where they become upset or disturbed for seemingly unknown reasons.  The person can “lose their train of thought” mid-sentence and not remember what they were talking about.  They can simply be driving to work and suddenly be thrown into the emotional struggle of their life, fighting the urge to immediately go get drugs and use them.

 The process of automatic, environmentally triggered cravings is devastating and nightmarish for anyone attempting to leave drugs and alcohol behind.  A drug user’s existence is dominated by desires to become clean and stop using drugs so his or her quality of life will improve.  That desire is continually opposed by an overpowering compulsion to use drugs which creates the indecision of not knowing how to stop this internal conflict.

 This situation is a sinister trap.  If drug users do not find an effective solution, they will remain enslaved for the rest of their lives, which is why many describe addiction as “incurable”. 

 The Narconon program recognizes and addresses this trap and contains study and exercises which help a person become less and less affected by the environmental triggers that cause drug cravings and more able to live a drug free productive life.

One Response to “Environmentally Triggered Drug Cravings”

  1. Bonnie says:

    Thanks for sharing this information. I have a 44 yr old son that has struggled for about 23 years with addiction. Right now, he is clean and started a new job. The longest I have known him to go without is 6 months. Crystal Meth took control of his life a long time ago. I pray everyday that this time, he will make it.

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