This blog often tackles topics of immediate concern to those in early recovery. This one is a little different. Cravings are intense feelings of desire for a particular substance and everyone in recovery will struggle with them at some point. This goes for the newly sober as well as folks with years of time under their belts. Cravings are usually the result of particular triggers but they can seem like they spring up out of nowhere. This can make them difficult to deal with at times. However, cravings aren’t much more than chemically produced figments of imagination while your brain is healing. The following tips will help you handle them with ease.
Get to the Source
Try to figure out what it is that’s making you feel this way. On paper, this might sound like looking for a needle in a haystack but you’re more ready for this than you know. Think back to the things you learned in treatment about the nature of cravings. Remember the acronym, “HALT?” For those who aren’t familiar, it stands for “hungry, angry, lonely, and tired.” These are the four most common triggers for addicts everywhere, regardless of their substance of choice, and where they go, cravings follow. Once you’ve determined the source of your cravings, you have the power to do something about it. However, I often discovered that finding the root was often all that was required to eliminate a craving’s power.
Pick Up the Phone
Sometimes the problem requires more than a little self-searching and a snack. This is where your sober support network comes in. A quick text to some friends or family who know what you’ve gone through will work wonders. It’s a quick and easy reminder that you don’t have to do this by yourself. Furthermore, if you have the type of relationship with your therapist that allows you to check-in outside of office visits, make use of it! A therapist can also help you get to the root of your cravings. Finally, you might want to hit a twelve-step or alternative self-help meeting. Here in Orange County, meetings start at 6AM and run until almost midnight (and even later on the weekends.) That’s a lot of people who have fought some of the same wars you have.
Remember to Breathe
I’m going to share one of the first lessons I learned at one of my first twelve-step meetings. The speaker said, “Cravings are a guarantee in recovery but all you have to do is wait. Give it five minutes. If you still have your craving after five minutes, that’s fine. Just wait another five minutes.” This is, of course, a little bit of an oversimplification, made for humorous effect. However, the lesson behind it holds up. Cravings are fleeting. They’re just a mental blip. To attack it from a different angle, try holding on to the craving. Don’t act on it, just try to hold the feeling in your mind for a while. You won’t be able to do it for very long.
Ocean Recovery has been successfully treating substance abuse and eating disorders since 2002. Our holistic approach includes individual and group counseling, addiction education –including triggers, cravings, and how to cope with them – yoga, nutrition therapy, and much more. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse, please give us a call today and start building your foundation for success.