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Even after detox, many addicts continue to experience intense cravings for several months or more after use has stopped. These have a physical component, but may also be triggered by experiences such as being in a situation where you used to use drugs, or experiencing stress, anxiety, negative or even positive life events. In the early stages of recovery, almost anything can be a trigger -- a song on the radio, the smell of cigarette smoke.
Managing these cravings without using drugs is one of the primary goals of treatment. The addict may not be able to help having the craving or being in the specific life situation, but the choice to use is a voluntary one. Effective treatment focuses on teaching the addict that she has other choices, and training her to make them when a craving strikes.
Common reasons for relapse include:
-- Inadequate treatment that clears the body of drugs but does not address the person's skills for managing cravings.
-- Treatment that does not provide ongoing support to the addict in building a social and economic life away from drug-using environments.
-- Failure to treat underlying conditions such as depression, anxiety, attention-deficit disorders, or chronic pain.