Addiction recovery takes time. Even after you’ve gone through detox and completed an addiction treatment program, you may still battle periodic substance use cravings. These are a normal part of recovery and something you must learn to cope with as they happen. Sometimes recognizing triggers such as certain places, sights, sounds, people, or smells can help you to plan accordingly to avoid these situations when possible. However, sometimes there is no way to prevent a craving and you just have to work through it.

1. Refocus Your Attention

Cravings typically pass within 10-15 minutes or so. When these urges strike, redirect your attention to something else. Turn on some music, clean the kitchen, work in the garden, put together a puzzle, or watch TV. Do something that takes your mind off of your desire for drugs or alcohol and allows you to distract yourself until the feeling passes.

2. Get Moving

Exercise can be a great way to push through cravings. Go for a run, shoot some hoops, ride your bike, or hit the gym. Get your blood flowing and endorphins pumping. Even taking a walk for a change of scenery or some fresh air can help because you’re removing yourself from the situation and any triggers.

3. Talk It Out

Sometimes the best thing to do is acknowledge your feelings. Call up a friend and tell them you’re experiencing a craving. Or, just call them up to talk about something else until it passes. Remind yourself – and say it out loud – that the urges you feel will pass and you will be okay. You do not have to act on them. Focus on how much your life has changed for the better since you entered recovery and how much you have gained. Giving into a craving isn’t worth it, and you are in control of your actions.

4. Relax

If your craving is stressing you out, take steps to relax your body and mind. Do some deep breathing or meditating. Practice yoga for a few minutes. Engage in activities that help you to feel calmer. Be present in the moment and pay attention to everything around you – what you can hear, see, smell, and touch. This can help to ground you.

Cravings are often stronger and occur more frequently in early recovery. As time passes, so do these urges. After a few months, they may not happen much at all and are just a passing blip on your radar because you have fully immersed yourself in a lifestyle of recovery. It can still be a good idea to have a plan for how to deal with these situations and know what strategies work for you. Be proactive to help reduce risk of relapse.

If you have experienced a relapse or feel you could benefit from additional addiction treatment or support, turn to Seacliff. We’ll work with you to create a recovery plan that fits your needs and goals and helps you to build a healthier, substance-free lifestyle. There is hope and long-term recovery is possible.

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