Cravings are a normal part of life and of addiction recovery too. Sometimes you get that urge that you need something right now. But remember, that’s all it is – an urge. You are under no obligation to act upon it, and it won’t hurt you if you don’t. It may feel like the end of the world, but it’s not. Cravings typically pass within 15-30 minutes, and the longer you’re in recovery, generally the fewer and further between they become. The intensity often wanes as well.
Knowing your triggers can help to reduce cravings. Recognize what sights, sounds, smells, locations, or feelings make you most vulnerable. Avoid these situations as much as possible, or at least limit your exposure. When you do experience a craving, try to figure out what may have caused it. Four of the most common triggers tend to be hunger, anger, loneliness, and tiredness.
But what can you do when you’re in the throes of a craving?
- Stay active. Keep yourself moving to reduce temptation to use drugs or alcohol. Go for a run, play the piano, put together a puzzle, dance to the radio, or do something else that you enjoy. Distracting your mind and focusing on something else can help you wait out a craving until it passes. Physical activity also releases endorphins which are a natural mood booster and can help you feel better.
- Relax. Practice meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises to reduce stress and calm your body and mind. Focusing on the mind-body connection and being fully in the present can ease cravings.
- Acknowledge it. Cravings are a realistic part of recovery, so own it. Accept the fact that you are experiencing a craving, and remind yourself that it will pass. Try talking to a friend or family member about what you’re feeling. This can help you to put things in perspective and realize that what you’re feeling is normal and it will go away. You do not have to act on it. Others can support you in staying accountable. They can also be a great source of conversation to take your mind off of your cravings.
Reflection can be beneficial as well. Remind yourself of how far you’ve come in your recovery. Is it worth moving backward just to satisfy a passing craving? Or would you rather do something that will help you to continue moving forward and toward the goals that you have set for yourself? Taking a few minutes to read through your gratitude journal and your goals can be valuable as well to remind you of what you’re working so hard for.
Seacliff Recovery Center can help you to overcome addiction and develop practical strategies for combating cravings and reducing risk of relapse. Make the most of your new recovery lifestyle and don’t let cravings set you back.