Euphoric recall

I read this great article by Maria Weeks on The Fix called ‘Only Lockdown Rehab Worked‘ and the whole article is worth a read.  A particularly couple of paragraphs really jumped out at me so I thought I would share them here:

Cravings are nothing but extremely powerful memories of pleasure (euphoric recall) brought on by drug use. It’s also estimated that “euphoric recall” registers two to ten times stronger in the hippocampus than any other pleasurable activity – even sex! So if someone has told you in your first few days of sobriety the best way to deal with cravings is to play the tape back by remembering how bad things got the last time you used, you may not have much success, because euphoric recall is so powerful, it overrides negative memories.

So what is the solution? The solution is to rid oneself of euphoric recall! And it’s a lot easier than you might think and here’s why: if euphoric recall is nothing but a memory, don’t most memories fade in time? For example, I’ve forgotten how to speak Japanese, only because I no longer use it living in California.

It’s estimated that cravings begin to attenuate in about three months, and by the sixth month they are usually gone. Of course there are some exceptions to the rule, for some people cravings may never go away completely. However, they will be a lot fainter and easier to manage than they were in early sobriety.

The bolding of those sentences is mine because it explains so clearly why cravings can be so overwhelming and difficult to resist!

The article recommends staying away from people and places that are triggers for you for as long as possible to allow the cravings to diminish.  She spent 6 months away and when she returned home the booze shop that had been the trigger for several other post 1 month rehab relapses no longer was a problem and rather than remembering good things she remembered a negative experience!

I appreciate that it isn’t possible to avoid all situations where your drinking memories are triggered but if you can reduce them to the barest minimum you are giving yourself a fighting chance of allowing and creating permanent change 🙂

68 days to go

 

5 thoughts on “Euphoric recall

  1. I liked that too, and I definitely found that by 90 days I had hardly any cravings left. The urges I get now are akin to that urge you get when you’re near a cliff edge – the sort of ‘fuck it’ that goes, I wonder what would happen if I actually did.

    I did think she should have followed the language analogy further, though. If she went back to Japan, I bet she’d start to speak Japanese again, fluidly, within days. Which is a useful analogy for picking up the glass again.

    1. You’ve changed your moniker! 🙂 It was a good piece wasn’t it? There’s nothing like comparing it to sex to make it easy for me to understand!! Yeah I don’t really crave it these days either – like you say it’s now a kind of abstract thought experiment.

      1. I have! Does it suit me? The abstract thought experiments worry me sometimes, because there is alcohol around me in my house, but so far so good.

      2. It does! 🙂 As long as the thought experiment remains just that and in the abstract then all is good!

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