Cravings are a normal and natural part of recovery. Cravings are often stronger and more intense in early recovery. Many recovering persons report they continue to experience cravings years after abstaining from drugs and alcohol The key to dealing with these cravings is to learn how to manage them. Craving typically cannot last in intensity longer than 20 minutes at a time. Next time you have a craving try the following tips to ride that wave and resist the urge to use.
Physical exertion can help change your thought from a craving to thinking about fatigued muscles and regulating breathing. The more intense the exercise, the better. Try doing jumping jacks, burpees, push-ups, or sit-ups. Complete these exercises until you are tired and feel like you cannot do one more. Of course, check with your healthcare provider prior to exercising.
Play the tape through.
Cravings often intensify we you begin fantasizing about obtaining the drug or alcohol and how we would feel. Then the tape stops. Try to play that tape through. Think a bout getting the drug or alcohol, taking the substance, and then what would happen after the high. Often time guilt, shame, and depression will return after using. For some people, after those initial feelings more dire consequences could happen. Those negative consequences could be legal trouble, losing family, losing a job, or worse.
Are you hunger? Angry? Lonely? Tired? Stressed? Cravings often pop up when we are in one of these states. All five states are primal drives that can kick up a cravings to revert to old behaviors. If you identify that you are currently experiencing one of these states, do something to change it. Hunger? Eat. Angry? Address the conflict or let it go. Lonely? Immerse yourself into a hobby or activity you enjoy. Call an old friend. Go to a meeting. Tired? Sleep. Rest. Stressed? Participate in stress management activities like exercise, aromatherapy, or get a massage.
You may try all of these strategies and still experience a craving that returns. Almost like the tides. If this is the case, it is likely that there is an underlying hurt or pain that is triggering the craving or your environment (people, places, things) is an ongoing trigger. Therapy can help you learn more strategies to manage cravings and make changes to limit triggers to use. No matter what, don’t give up! Try cycling through these strategies and make is a mission to manage your craving. Above all else…DON’T DRUG/DRINK! You have the power to make that decision every day.