Crush Cravings With These 7 Strategies

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Crush Cravings With These 7 Strategies

Cravings are one of the most challenging parts of recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction. Not only is this burning desire impossible to satisfy (so it goes with addiction), but you cannot give in. If you do, you know you will be taking a few steps backward in recovery, and that is the last thing you want. You are finally on your feet, and you feel ready to tackle the world. But it would be best if you found a way to settle these cravings so you can focus on tasks and be productive.

How can you accomplish this?

What Triggers Cravings?

If you experience cravings, you do not need to be ashamed. Cravings are a normal part of addiction recovery, and they do not mean you are bound to relapse. You should be aware that relapse can be very dangerous for some drugs and can lead to overdose and possibly death.  The good news is that there are many ways you can manage them to take control of your life.

The first step in overcoming your cravings is identifying and understanding your triggers. ‘Triggers’ or ‘cues’ are things in your environment that remind you of past use of drugs or alcohol. For instance:

  • Phrases or language
  • The city you grew up in
  • Specific people or objects
  • Social events and holidays
  • Certain aromas or ambiance
  • Discussion about substances

In other words, anything that has a mental association with substance use can be cause for concern.

How Cravings Manifest

Cravings generally occur in two forms: mentally/emotionally and physically. For instance, you may have an uncontrollable voice in your head telling you that you need the substance but you do not. You might become irritated and have difficulty concentrating. You may also have somatic pain, such as tight muscles and stomach aches. Certain objects often set off cravings in your environment, but they can also be caused by things that are hJkl[[[[,ugs or alcohol can bubble up when you are feeling Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired.

Hunger: Hunger can cause your low blood sugar to drop, leading to irritability. Nutritional deficiencies can cause depression and dehydration, leading to an imbalance of electrolytes.

Anger: Uncontrolled anger can damage your outlook on life and deteriorate your social support. You may also do something you will regret when consumed with rage.

Lonely: Loneliness is a leading cause of relapse. That is why family and social support are so essential to maintain. Sometimes, though, you have to be by yourself. You can learn to deal with this in therapy.

Tired: Early recovery can be difficult because you are still adjusting to a new sleep pattern. Avoid doing things that could disrupt your newfound schedule (e.g., caffeine, staying up late).

Make sure to check in with yourself regularly and address any needs.

Confronting a Burning Desire

Sure, a drug or alcohol craving is probably the most potent sensation you have ever felt. But you are powerful too, and you can overcome it. In addition, desires are usually short-lived, meaning that all you have to do is buy yourself a little time for them to pass.

Consider using these seven coping strategies:

#1. Find a distraction. What is an activity you enjoy but also requires a sustained level of thought and attention? Some examples could include playing chess, writing in your journal, or planning next week’s schedule.

#2. Move your body. There is nothing quite like the feeling of doing a hundred jumping jacks or sprinting as fast as your can. Not only will you feel good after, but you will have exhausted (and distracted) yourself.

#3. Treat yourself. Not to substances, of course. There are tons of nutritional and tasty recipes for meals and desserts that can try out. Or, take yourself out to a buffet and have a cheat day.

#4. Reflect on the past. You never knew what addiction felt like at one point in your life. Allow yourself to revisit those memories and feel that sense of freedom.

#5. Rationalize. If you can, confront the craving head-on rather than avoid it. What caused it? Has this happened before? If so, it means you got through it once to do it again. Remember: cravings pass within 30-45 minutes. Do not make a permanent decision for a temporary feeling.

#6. Negative association. Cravings can lead to the romanticization of substances. Instead, try imaging the substance as a harmful entity that is out to get you, and you are trying to get away as fast as you can.

#7. Seek support. When all else fails, reach out to your therapist or support group to talk about it.

Seeking Therapy & Group Support

You might find that you need a little more than the tips outlined here, and that is okay. It is important to have an aftercare plan that may include stepping down to an outpatient program after residential treatment or continuing to attend therapy and support groups. If you need more help, explore these to manage your cravings in a more practical way.

Cravings can get in the way of a successful recovery. It’s important to identify your triggers in order to be effective at managing cravings, so they don’t manage you. When self-help tips fail, therapy and support groups can help. Avalon Malibu is a treatment center for adults with addiction and mental health disorders. We are licensed by California state and nationally recognized by the Joint Commission. Our top priority is helping you find and develop your innermost potential. We believe that every client that walks through our doors has a purpose and will move on from treatment to do great things. By taking an integrated approach to treatment, you will get to address multiple dimensions of your well-being so you can experience deep healing. Our partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient programs can help if you need assistance after primary treatment. Call: (844) 857-5992 today.

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