One of the most challenging parts of recovery, no matter how many days, weeks, or years you have sober, is dealing with cravings and urges to drink or use drugs. Cravings are normal, and the intensity can wax and wane over time. The urge can come on strongly out of nowhere, or you may note that you have consistent triggers that make you crave alcohol more often. The only reliable thing about urges is that they will pass in time.
Part of a solid relapse prevention plan is developing strategies that help you when the cravings hit or when you’re triggered to use. A professional recovery center, like Hickory Treatment Centers, can help you develop an individual plan to ride out the urges.
Simple Coping Strategy For Cravings
Learning to resist cravings is a habit that you can form and strengthen. The more times you successfully beat an urge, the stronger you get against the next one. Several support programs use an acronym, DEADS, to help people in recovery work through the urges with five different approaches.
The intensity of a craving will lessen with time and typically last about 10-15 minutes. If you can avoid taking that first drink or using the drug for at least 15 minutes, you may realize the urge has passed, and you can move on with your day. The more you can successfully wait out an urge, the less your cravings will occur. And, you can be secure knowing the craving will pass and how long it should take.
If you’re in a triggering situation, try to leave. For instance, if you’re planning to have dinner with friends and realize that the bar in the restaurant you’re going to is triggering a craving, ask to go somewhere else that doesn’t serve alcohol. Or, if you’re watching a movie where characters use drugs and spark a craving, turn it off. Leave the situation that’s stimulating urges.
Urges are part of recovery and healing your mind and body from addiction. Part of recovery includes accepting and working through being uncomfortable or upset and using healthy coping skills instead of numbing the unpleasantness with drugs or alcohol. If you frame your urges as part of this healthy recovery process, it can make them easier to cope.
Dispute the urges – or use an effective counter-statement when your “addict brain” is prompting you to use. You may be feeling angry and feel like you need a drink to calm down. Or, maybe you’re sad and want the relief of getting high. When you identify the feelings that are prompting the cravings, then you can diagnose what the true issue is and address that.
Distracting yourself or substituting another activity for the craving helps lessen its intensity. If you’re at home and a craving hit, take a walk around the block. You may be able to do this at work, too – excuse yourself from the situation and walk around or go up and down the stairs in the building. Or, maybe playing a game on your phone, one you have to concentrate on, can distract you until the craving passes. Make a list of things you can do at home, at work, and if you’re out with friends that will distract you until your urge subsides.
Do You Need Help With a Drug or Alcohol Addiction?
Hickory Treatment Centers offers several evidence-based programs to help people struggling with drug or alcohol abuse. Part of our program includes helping clients with relapse prevention strategies. Contact us today for a confidential consultation.