30 Aug Dealing With Cravings
Managing cravings is an unavoidable part of recovery that every addict has to deal with. As his brain’s supply of the addictive substance runs out, an addict will begin to experience feelings of withdrawal that include anything from discomfort or annoyance to more dramatic side effects. During withdrawal, the addict will experience a craving for the substance, often brought on by an environmental trigger, that will send him in search of his drug of choice. Learning how to manage these cravings will help an addict stay away from the addictive substance and avoid relapse.
Developing a relapse prevention plan or a craving management plan will help you to have a system in place ahead of time to deal with cravings. This way, when a craving does hit, you won’t have to think about what you should do. You can simply refer to your decided plan and act. Here are some components of a relapse prevention plan that have helped others succeed.
Even though the situation may feel desperate when a craving hits, the truth is that all cravings pass with time. If you can commit to delaying using an addictive substance for even a short waiting period, you will often find that you no longer feel that you need to use once the waiting period has passed. If you follow your relapse prevention plan, a craving will often pass within 30 minutes, or at least diminish to a manageable point.
As soon as you realize you are in a dangerous situation, get away as fast as you can. If seeing the beer and wine aisle at the grocery store sets you on edge, leave your cart and walk out of the store. If a TV program depicting others using drugs has caught your attention, turn off the TV and find something else to do. Run away from triggers as though your life depends on it, because it does.
Rather than trying to fight cravings and denying their existence, accept that they are a normal part of recovery and are going to occur from time to time. Acceptance allows you to take the element of surprise away from cravings and deal with them calmly when they come along. Cravings are normal and every addict has them. They are also manageable and you are strong enough, with the help of God, to overcome them.
Cravings often come with a desperate feeling and irrational self talk. You may begin to feel like it’s impossible to avoid these cravings. You can disarm this negative self talk by having counter-statements prepared to dispute these false notions. Try things like, “I need to get healthy,” and “I can wait this out.” These rational statements will help you to stay grounded in reality until the craving passes.
Replacing Addictive Behavior
Cravings can be a strong catapult into action, but you don’t have to act by using. You can replace your addictive behaviors with other, healthy behaviors that will help you to get through a craving. Make a list of activities that could engage your attention when a craving comes along. Include things like going for a walk, calling your sponsor, or reading a book. When a craving hits, refer to your list, pick an activity, and get going. Run from your craving and engage your mind and body in some other activity.