Search tips
Search criteria 


Logo of ijpsychHomeCurrent issueInstructionsSubmit article
Indian J Psychiatry. 2002 Apr-Jun; 44(2): 138–143.
PMCID: PMC2954341



Craving is considered to play an important role in the persistence of drug use and relapse of drug use. Very few studies have looked into the subjective experience of this phenomena. This study attempts to study craving comprehensively as described by the subjects. In the present study 30 patients of heroin dependence syndrome were assessed (using a semi-structured questionnaire) for the subjective experience of craving and its various dimensions. All subjects reported having experienced craving. Majority of subjects (90%) described craving as a strong desire to use the substance. About 77% reported that intensity of craving could vary while others described it as a strong urge. Majority (83.3%) reported that only heroin or other opiates could satisfy the craving they experienced for heroin. During craving, thoughts of using the drug by all means would preoccupy their mind. Withdrawal symptoms (70.0%), increased respiration (56.7%) and palpitation (53.3%) were the common physical symptoms and anger (83.3%), tension (63.3%), anxiety (50.0%) were the common emotions experienced during craving. Craving was described as difficult to control and resulted in consumption of heroin on an average of 76.7% occasions. All subjects reported multiple cues that induced craving. Frequency of craving decreased with increase in length of period of abstinence. After being abstinent for 3 months, 90% subjects did not experience craving or experienced it once in a day. Socio-cultural factors do not appear to have prominent influence on subjective experience of craving.

Keywords: Craving, Heroin, Dependence, Subjective experience

Full Text

The Full Text of this article is available as a PDF (242K).

Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • DeJong W. Relapse prevention: an emerging technology for promoting long-term drug abstinence. Int J Addict. 1994 Apr;29(6):681–705. [PubMed]
  • Drummond DC. Theories of drug craving, ancient and modern. Addiction. 2001 Jan;96(1):33–46. [PubMed]
  • Lowman C, Hunt WA, Litten RZ, Drummond DC. Research perspectives on alcohol craving: an overview. Addiction. 2000 Aug;95 (Suppl 2):S45–S54. [PubMed]
  • Ludwig AM, Stark LH. Alcohol craving. Subjective and situational aspects. Q J Stud Alcohol. 1974 Sep;35(3):899–905. [PubMed]
  • Merikle EP. The subjective experience of craving: an exploratory analysis. Subst Use Misuse. 1999 Jun;34(8):1101–1115. [PubMed]
  • Pickens RW, Johanson CE. Craving: consensus of status and agenda for future research. Drug Alcohol Depend. 1992 Jun;30(2):127–131. [PubMed]
  • Raj H, Ray R, Prakash B. Relapse precipitants in opiate addiction : assessment in community treatment setting. Indian J Psychiatry. 2000 Jul;42(3):253–257. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Robinson TE, Berridge KC. The neural basis of drug craving: an incentive-sensitization theory of addiction. Brain Res Brain Res Rev. 1993 Sep-Dec;18(3):247–291. [PubMed]

Articles from Indian Journal of Psychiatry are provided here courtesy of Medknow Publications