When you’re walking the sobriety path, cravings for your drug of choice come as no surprise. Early recovery tends to be the most challenging when it comes to feeling various degrees of cravings. However, the more solid your recovery foundation becomes, the less challenging it will be.
Cravings are a very normal experience for anyone who decides to stop using an addictive substance. Yes, sometimes they can feel intense, but learning how to identify and deal with these cravings is a part of recovery.
The following are some helpful tips on how you can manage and/or overcome cravings as they pop up in your recovery:
1. Reduce Stress
A great way to experience less cravings is to reduce stress in your life. Most people feel the compulsion to use their addictive substances during stressful times. By trying to reduce stress, it helps cut back on those cravings. Most recovery/rehab centers offer stress management courses or stress management activities such as yoga or meditation. It will do you good to become better at managing overall stress.
Focusing on your physical health can help fight off cravings. Exercising can help improve your mood, reduce stress, and help with depression and anxiety – ultimately reducing cravings. Keep in mind you don’t have to do intense workouts either. It could be as easy as a brisk walk, gardening, biking, or dancing.
3. Get A Hobby
Have you put a hobby on the shelf? If so, it’s time to get it down and rekindle your passion for it. Finding a hobby can bring you some excitement and happiness, but can also be a good distraction when you feel a craving coming on. Having a healthy distraction in the beginning of recovery can be very beneficial because it helps keep your mind busy. Many times, cravings start because of boredom, so keeping yourself busy with a hobby may help cut back on cravings.
4. Surf The Urge
Sometimes acknowledging the cravings and urges is the best way to get rid of one. Surfing the urge is a mindfulness technique that requires you to accept the urge and ride it out. Think of a wave in the ocean that comes in high and then fades into the water. Cravings come on much like that. When you feel a craving, close your eyes and observe your thoughts or your feelings. Picture yourself riding the wave on a surfboard, eventually coming to a stop. You’ll notice the urge passes. Surfing the urge is a good way of realizing that cravings come in like a wave and eventually pass.
5. Know Your Triggers
While you are in recovery, you may notice certain people, places, and things will make you have cravings or urges. Knowing what can trigger you and allowing yourself to avoid these things when possible will help reduce cravings. Sometimes you will not be able to avoid certain triggers, such as that person in your family that gets on your nerves or your boss who tends to annoy you. You will need to come up with strategies to help you when you feel triggered around such circumstances.
6. Express Your Feelings
Most people try to escape their feelings by using drugs or alcohol. Allowing yourself to feel these emotions and find a way to express them can help reduce cravings. This can also be beneficial long after recovery because you can learn how to get those emotions out in a healthy way. There can be many ways to express your feelings such as dancing, singing, doing art, writing poetry, or writing your feelings in a journal.
7. Ask For Help
Sometimes cravings can be very strong and intense, so talking it out with a friend or family member you trust can be very helpful. If you attend a support group like Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous, seek out help from your sponsor. Talking about how you feel can make you feel more in control while you are having a craving. You can also talk to a therapist or a counselor.
8. Mindful Meditation
For some people, relaxation, meditation, contemplation, or praying works well to reduce cravings. If you feel relaxed and content, you’ll struggle with less cravings. Contemplation can help you see clearly the outcomes of your behaviors and whether they are helping or harming you. Mindfulness and meditation can help you relax and accept what your body is feeling in that moment. They can also help your mind to empty out the negative thoughts, which may have been causing you to reach for the alcohol or drug in the first place.
9. Short-Term Avoidance
It’s a good idea to avoid people and places that can trigger you to have a craving. Make a list of your triggers and avoid them as best as you can until you learn coping mechanisms to deal being around such triggers. As you learn how to deal with your cravings and build a stronger recovery foundation, it will become easier when these triggers do happen.
10. Acceptance Is Key
Cravings are a very normal part of recovery. By accepting that it’s a normal feeling and understanding that it will pass, you’ll be able to respond better to cravings. And, accepting them can also reduce their intensity.
Keep in mind that the intensity of cravings should become less and less as you continue your recovery path. If you attend an alcohol or drug treatment center, such as Sunshine Native Recovery, you’ll be taught how to manage and overcome cravings through a variety of techniques and modalities. The key is having the desire and intent to use what you learn.
Cravings Don’t Last Forever
Here at Sunshine Native Recovery, we’re passionate about helping those who want to overcome addiction issues and go on to create a better life. As a culturally based facility, we offer evidence-based, effective recovery for Native Americans who are ready to get free.
If you’re struggling with substance abuse, please reach out today. We’d love to help you gain sobriety and achieve whatever goals you have. Make that call today.