The Resonance Factor (Cravings and Landmines)
Cravings are an essential component of the conversation that a professional should have with the service user. It is important that the issue of cravings is not deflected, as can happen generally in the therapeutic relationship.
A client often states “ I don’t want to talk about cravings as it makes me crave”. Often the worker retreats as they don’t want to become responsible for the service user relapsing. Does this make sense? As it is difficult to use drugs/alcohol without craving it first, this would mean that the client craves regularly , with the only feedback they get regarding the craving comes from the craving itself. As the role of the craving is to sell the thought of using to the service user, the craving will always make the thought attractive. After all, that is its job description.
Bearing this in mind, is it the responsibility of the professional to instigate the conversation regarding the craving, to allow the service user to be pro-active with their cravings and not always re-active. This highlights to the client the full extent of the war that they are engaged in.
Lets look at the following scenario. A country goes to war. The country they are fighting are experts in planting landmines. In previous wars many soldier have lost their lives due to these landmines.
Planning to overcome the enemy, a war conference is set up, and a plan of action is devised in order to make a plan regarding the landlines. The issues that arise from this conference are :
The army knows that in order to win this war they have, they have to have a strategy around the danger of the landmines and this is the strategy they come up with.
This Analogy can enable the professional to engage with the service user in a very creative way. Lets break the analogy down.
The client often talks about their private war with their cravings, and how when it becomes to much they lapse. The lapsing is the equivalent of them stepping on a landmine. The question we need to ask is if the craving leads to a lapse, why hasn’t the client been informed of them beforehand, to give them a space and the tools to detonate the craving?.
The service user should be should be informed of the dangers of the explosion, and learn tools to detonate the danger. The army didn’t run away from the mines. Instead they searched for them.
They knew they had to do this in order to proceed. The cravings are no different. To engage with the cravings, the service user needs to get into a conversation with the craving. Ask the craving evidence based questions. After a period of time doing this, they will find they are able to disarm the craving.
Just like the army, they still hold a healthy fear of the cravings, but they will start to understand that they are capable of still winning the war and understand that their cravings are not unbeatable. Most important of all is to be vigilant around them, but to never use the justification that they cannot proceed any further in their recovery because the cravings are to powerful. How can you win a war without expecting to meet the enemy.
After all. The service users enemy is themselves.