Getting sober after having been addicted to drugs and/or alcohol is a major accomplishment. Achieving this milestone signifies that you have put in an incredible amount of hard work and effort thus far. And, as you continue on the road of recovery, you will continue to succeed as long as you keep true to yourself and your sobriety. However, that does not mean that you might not face setbacks. Addiction is a chronic, relapsing disease of the brain, meaning that it is normal to relapse or experience other hang-ups. For many, cravings are something that threatens their recovery, leading to relapse or other consequences. As with anything related to addiction, the more treatment, and understanding that you obtain regarding yourself and your recovery, the better you will be able to handle anything that this disease throws at you.
Cravings, however, can be very tricky. Not only can they come on completely unexpected, but they can also develop in response to a triggering event. And, when cravings kick-in, it can be extremely difficult to get over them without going through a number of different emotions before they dissipate. When you have the right coping skills in tow to handle the onset of cravings, you can be confident in your preparedness to overcome the desire to use again.
7 Ways to Cope with Cravings
Knowing how to cope with cravings can be your ticket to continuing on in your recovery. It might not happen overnight, however identifying how and why your cravings develop, what you can do to overcome them, and then apply that methodology to your life can help you get through moments where you would otherwise consider giving it all up to use again.
Addiction is extremely complex, and so is recovery. However, some parts of recovery are easy when you keep it simple. One of the simplest things you can do is to avoid anything that might trigger a craving. This can include going to bars or being around others who use, or something more personal like listening to certain songs or looking at old pictures. Whatever triggers you have identified in your life, work to avoid them. This is not possible 100% of the time, however when you are able to control them, do so.
For many people, being distractible can make life a little more chaotic. However, if you are in recovery from addiction, learning how to distract yourself at the drop of a hat can be the ace in your pocket in relation to preventing relapse. For example, if you are triggered to use, immediately do something that will distract you from that craving. Get up and go for a walk, pick up a book, or call a friend. Taking your mind off the craving can give you time to get through it without giving in.
Don’t get stressed
One of the first things that many people do when they get a craving is begin to stress out. Stressing oneself can only make the craving worse, particularly because most individuals use drugs and/or alcohol to cope with stressful events or feelings. So, do things that lower your stress level. This might include mindfulness practices or going to a yoga class.
Leave the area
If you are in a certain space where you are feeling triggered, simply leave. Do not become overwhelmed or concerned about what others might think of you. You are entitled to leave any place where you are feeling cravings coming on in an effort to protect your recovery. Making this promise to yourself can empower you to make other healthy choices like this.
Try to understand your craving
When you are craving drugs and/or alcohol, ask yourself why. What is occurring in your life that is causing you to crave use? Are you bored? Are you feeling overwhelmed by something in your life? Whatever it is, try to identify why you are feeling vulnerable at this time. Doing so can help you sort out this craving rather than give in to it.
Shift your thought process
Instead of ruminating on the craving, help your brain unlock its gears by doing something else. For instance, if you are walking down the street and start craving drugs and/or alcohol, do something else with your brain, such as count how many flowers you see on your walk. Something this simple can help “unstick” your brain from remaining focused on the cravings.
Remind yourself of the risks of using
Based on your experience with substance abuse, you are probably well-versed in the many consequences that can occur when you are under the influence. When you are craving something, remind yourself of the consequences that you suffered at the hands of addiction, and try to put into focus how picking up again will only lead to those consequences once more.
Being sober and in recovery does not mean that everything is smooth sailing. There is no straight line to recovery, and it, like other diseases, can be extremely difficult to manage. However, by developing a plan of attack in regards to coping with cravings, you can set yourself up for success.
If you are in recovery, but are struggling with handling your cravings, reach out for help. Chances are you already know who to call if you are in need of some guidance. By making that call, you can help yourself build a new strength in your recovery that can keep you from risking it all just for one more hit or drink. There is support available for you.
Depending on the severity of your wellbeing, things that can help you during this time can include going to regular support group meetings, seeing a therapist (or increasing sessions if already seeing one), or potentially even going back to rehab. If you are unsure of which option is best for you, reach out to us right now. Our drug rehab can help you.