Public Relations Blog

Craving by Omar Manejwala, M.D.


Chocolate, sex, travel, a glass of wine, a new pair of shoes, french fries—these are all things people may indulge in from time to time.  For the most part, feeding these desires is a simple way to enjoy life, but what happens when a little pleasure becomes an overwhelming need that cannot be satisfied?  Omar Manejwala, M.D., the chief medical officer at Catasys and the author of the new book CRAVING: Why We Can’t Seem to Get Enough (Hazelden Publishing; April 2013; $14.95; Original Trade Paperback), defines craving as a “strong desire that, if unfulfilled, produces a powerful physical and mental suffering.”  A true craving can lead to a serious problem. According to Manejwala, current research shows that psychology, culture and brain chemistry hold the clues to why we may never be satisfied—but they also show how we can overcome these urges and compulsions.

In CRAVING Manejwala explains that the brain can turn against us, undermining our goals.  Using our experiences, habits and biology, our brain influences what we crave—and whether we will be able to stop—by pulling the strings of pleasure and pain, thereby creating a cycle that is hard to break.  All sorts of factors can be involved in the creation of this pattern. Some are genetic, and others come from the environment in which we were raised. But one thing doctors now know is that we can change what we want by “teaching” our brain how to think differently.  Eventually, Manejwala maintains, we can lose interest in the very thing that used to control us.  A desperate need has the potential to fade—not to be completely forgotten, but certainly not to continue to dominate our everyday life.

Some of the questions Manejwala covers in CRAVING are:

  • How and why do our brains drive our behavior?
  • What are the warning signs that a craving is evolving into an addiction?
  • Why is craving the most difficult component of addiction to address?
  • How can we change the parts of the brain that fuel our cravings?
  • What are some beliefs about cravings that recent research has disproven? (For example, it’s not necessarily true that we want what we can’t have.)
  • What simple steps can we take that can aid in the longer-term process of living without constant craving?

CRAVING will help everyone, from the person who just wants to manage their cravings to prevent them from getting out of control, to an addict (alcoholic, compulsive overeater, shopaholic, gambler, sex-addict, etc.) who has crossed the line and needs to completely reeducate his brain.  Manejwala believes that everyone can get satisfaction by learning what it is they really need and how to get it.

Omar Manejwala, M.D., is the senior vice president and chief medical officer of Catasys in Los Angeles and is the former medical director at Hazelden Foundation.  Dr. Manejwala is a transformative public speaker and appears frequently in the national media to address the topic of addiction and compulsive behaviors.