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Understanding addiction
Understanding Cravings and Urges

Understanding Cravings and Urges

We answer your FAQs: how are cravings related to urges? Find out about it in this page from Confidant Health.

Cravings and urges are often used interchangeably but they describe different sensations.  There is, however, an association between cravings and urges. Let's take a look.

What Are Urges? 

Urges are impulses that make you want to engage in a specific behavior. For example, someone with a sweet tooth might have an urge to eat a donut each day. 

Urges vary by the circumstances and emotions of each person. For instance, you may feel an urge to eat a donut when you see someone else eating one. Urges can be tied to emotions like sadness, or to a place like a donut shop.

A person with an urge may be able to resist it by waiting it out or by choosing alternate behaviors. That person with the sweet tooth might pick up a raw carrot instead of a donut to calm that urge, for example.

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What Are Cravings?

Cravings are strong desires and harder to resist than urges. They often involve compulsive behavior related to the brain's reward system. 

Cravings and Triggers

A craving usually occurs after exposure to a particular circumstance, like seeing a friend use a drug.  A strong negative emotion like anxiety can trigger a craving, too. 

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Identifying Triggers

No two people experience the same triggers. Positive triggers will often lead to pleasure-seeking behavior, though, and negative triggers may involve escaping or releasing pressure. 

Listening to your thoughts and understanding triggers can help you identify cravings and safely manage them. 

This article has been medically reviewed by
Erin Hillers
Erin Hillers
Erin Hillers
Nurse Practitioner

Erin is a Nurse Practitioner with 8 years of experience in midwifery and women's health. She has spent the past 5 years specializing in the treatment of opioid and alcohol use disorders.

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