If you’ve struggled with addiction, you know that resisting a craving isn’t always as easy as “Just Saying No.” That’s why we’ve compiled these tips from recovery experts to help you crush drug and alcohol cravings.
- Remember “People, Places and Things.” In AA, there’s an adage, “If you go to a barber shop often enough, you’re gonna get a haircut.” In other words, if you’re regularly exposing yourself to people, places and things associated with drinking or using, you’re eventually going to drink or use. Conversely, if you’re thoughtful and intentional about where you go, who you spend time with and what you do—remembering that recovery is your top priority—you will be less likely to be in situations where cravings arise.
- Delay. Typically, cravings are time-limited and will usually subside in 15-20 minutes if they aren’t “fed.” While delaying, occupy yourself with a values-based activity. Get active with a cardio workout. Take a walk outside with a friend. Do yoga. Help someone else in need. Call a sponsor or other sober support.
- Check in With Yourself. It may seem overly simplistic but using the HALT (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired) acronym can be an effective way to manage cravings. If you’re experiencing one or more of these “symptoms,” take action to address it ASAP.
- Use Mindfulness. Practice this nonjudgmental awareness of the present moment. Label and then accept. “I’m noticing a tension in my shoulders and a rush of adrenaline. My mind is producing thoughts about picking up a drink or drug.” Now, practice acceptance that these thoughts and sensations exist as a part of your present internal experience, and you don’t need to make them go away or change them. Visualize them coming and going like the clouds in the sky or waves in the ocean. (Urge surfing is a similar technique and you can learn more about it here.)
- Fast Forward. Imagine what would happen if you were to give in to the craving. Play this vision “forward” in your mind…a day, a week, a month and a year later. How might your life look? What positive things might be lost if you continued to drink or use drugs? What relationships might be destroyed? Hint: If you’re having a hard time “fast forwarding” in your mind, recall how your addiction negatively impacted your life in the past—with the understanding that continuing with active addiction will bring more of the same.
Cravings are a common and natural symptom of addiction, but our brains can continue to “rewire” as we learn to resist—rather than give into—urges to drink or use.
If you’re looking for recovery support, First Step Recovery can help! Contact us today at 330.369.8022!