How to Handle Cravings

Cravings: How to Manage

Nick Kastros January 3, 2020

Cravings are an unavoidable part of entering into sobriety. There will be times when it feels like your mind is screaming at you, “I want it so bad!” Cravings tend to go hand in hand with urges, (“I need to do this right now.”) and they’re both perfectly normal. Thankfully all cravings and urges pass with time. Continue reading for three in depth, easy to implement ideas on how to cope with urges and cravings as well as a list of other ways to help you succeed in abstaining from drugs or alcohol.

Learning to Overcome Cravings

You may have thought that after getting off drugs things become easier, but that’s not always the case. Cravings come in a number of different forms, but get easier and easier to manage the farther you get into recovery. An important aspect to battling cravings is overcoming old habits. One scientific review accurately discusses the phenomenon of cravings as follows,”The addict may have little insight into the reason for the craving and indeed, may himself be bewildered by its intensity. At a conscious level addicts may recount all of the negative consequences of continued drug use, deplore their situation, even comment that the drug does not continue to give great pleasure – and not understand why their craving persists.” How do we deal with cravings and urges when they arise?

Ask for Help

Dealing with a craving can make you feel like you’re about to lose everything you’ve worked for in sobriety. Having someone in your corner can go a long way to ensure you don’t cave into the desire to pick up. For instance, if you’re active in 12-Step this can be a sponsor or it could be any friend who you trust. In addition, try getting involved with online recovery communities. There will always be someone to listen if you’re willing to go out of your comfort zone and reach out for help. Above all, talking through what’s going on in your mind to someone, or simply just having someone to listen, can go a long way to curb a craving.

Determine the Why

More often than not there’s a reason behind what brought on the craving your facing. Determining exactly why the craving came up in the first place can go a long way to help prevent future ones. It can also help you understand the reasoning behind your feelings. Maybe being in a certain environment is a trigger for you. For me there was a certain gas station that would always make me crave using. Recognizing your triggers will go a long way to improve your chances of success.

Change your Circumstances

Sometimes the most important thing you can do to battle a craving is to change your circumstances. This is most true when you change your physiology. If you’re sitting stagnant get up and move around, go for a walk, do whatever you have to do to get your mind off of things. The mental energy of cravings and urges will dissolve if you stop actively engaging with them through your attention. If they don’t go away in ten or fifteen minutes you’re probably saulking in the circumstances that brought them on in the first place. Get away from whatever triggered the craving in the first place and you’ll set yourself up for success moving forward.

Twenty Ways to Stop Cravings:

  • Get enough Sleep
  • Exercise Regularly
  • Go for a Walk
  • Read a book
  • Do Positive Affirmations
  • Call a Friend
  • Play with a Pet
  • Take a Nap
  • Find a new Hobby
  • Journal
  • Take a Bath
  • Meditate
  • Answer questions on Quora
  • Watch a Movie
  • Remind yourself what will happen if you relapse
  • Listen to Music
  • Paint or Draw
  • Attend a 12-Step Meeting
  • Clean your Room
  • Do Volunteer Work

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