Provide the following information about cravings and urges to use

Speed cravings and urges are the sense of wishing to have a hit of speed, or experiencing an impulse to seek out and use it. Urges and cravings tend to increase during withdrawal or in the absence of using. Therefore if your client is trying to abstain from speed, he/she will experience more intense cravings and urges.

The extent of his/her cravings and urges will also be determined by how much he/she dwells on thoughts about using speed. Often, providing the client with some basic facts about cravings can assist their ability to endure them. Use the following "Some facts about cravings" summary as a stimulus for this discussion. If appropriate, you may like to photocopy the following summary sheet and pass on to the client for their reference.

Some facts about cravings (Marlatt & Gordon, 1985)

  1. Cravings/urges to use are a natural part of modifying speed use. This means that you are no more likely to have any more difficulty in altering your speed use than anybody else does. Understanding cravings helps people to overcome them.

  2. Cravings are the result of long-term speed use and can continue long after quitting. So, people with a history of heavier use will experience stronger urges.

  3. Cravings can be triggered by: people, places, things, feelings, situations or anything else that has been associated with using in the past.

  4. Explain a craving in terms of a wave at the beach. Every wave/craving starts off small, and builds up to its highest point, and then it will break and flow away. Each individual craving rarely lasts beyond a few minutes. (See figure A)

  5. Cravings will only lose their power if they are not strengthened (reinforced) by using. Using occasionally will only serve to keep cravings alive. That is, cravings are like a stray cat – if you keep feeding it, it will keep coming back.

  6. Each time a person does something other than use in response to a craving, the craving will lose its power. The peak of the craving wave will become smaller, and the waves will be further apart. This process is known as extinction. (See figure B)

  7. Abstinence from speed is the best way to ensure the most rapid and complete extinction of cravings.

  8. Cravings are most intense in the early parts of quitting/cutting down, but people may continue to experience cravings for the first few months and sometimes even years after quitting.

  9. Each craving will not always be less intense than the previous one. Be aware that sometimes, particularly in response to stress and certain triggers, the peak can return to the maximum strength but will decline when the stress subsides.
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Figure A - craving wave

Text equivalent below for Figure A - craving wave
Text version of figure A
A wave, moving from a trough, to a peak to a second trough

Figure B - craving extinction

Text equivalent below for Figure B - craving extinction
Text version of figure B
A wave motion with five peaks that gradually diminish in height
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