Upon exiting rehabilitation, it’s natural to feel like you’ve mastered your addiction. However, experiencing cravings is a typical part of the journey towards recovery. Cravings can often feel like an overwhelming desire for drugs or alcohol. During these episodes, the substance you once abused may seem so irresistible that you can almost smell or taste it.
This can be accompanied by physical symptoms linked with anxiety such as accelerated heart rate and headaches. Since addiction is a long-term disease, you’ll likely encounter cravings for several months or even years. Over time, as you discover effective strategies to manage your cravings, they will lessen in both their occurrence and severity.
1. Surf the Craving
“Surf the craving” is a constructive strategy to deal with cravings during addiction recovery. This mindfulness approach, often recommended by the best rehabs in New York, encourages individuals to acknowledge and accept their cravings rather than resisting or fighting them.
Just like a surfer rides the high and low tides of the ocean you too can learn to navigate your urges. When a craving hits, it often comes on strong, like a towering wave. Instead of being overwhelmed, close your eyes and focus on your thoughts and feelings. Visualize yourself as a surfer, skillfully riding this wave of craving, maintaining balance and control. As you focus on this mental image, you’ll gradually notice the craving, much like the wave, losing its intensity and eventually dissipating.
2. Look for a Distraction
During the challenging journey of addiction recovery, remember that cravings, while intense, are not perpetual. In reality, they typically last around 15 minutes. However, they may appear to persist longer due to our mind’s tendency to dwell on them, as we grapple with denial and contemplate our subsequent actions.
This mental wrestling can plunge us into a deeper vortex of thoughts. This leads us to believe the only way to quell the craving is to give in to it. A practical strategy to escape this mental whirlpool is to seek a diversion. Engage in an activity that demands your full attention. This technique serves as a mental detour, steering you away from the gravitational pull of your cravings.
3. Find a New Hobby
If there’s a hobby you neglected, now might be the perfect time to reignite your interest. Engaging in a hobby can spark joy and excitement and serve as an effective diversion during moments of craving. Utilizing such a constructive distraction, especially in the initial stages of recovery, can be immensely helpful as it keeps your mind engaged. Boredom often triggers cravings, so immersing yourself in a hobby could be instrumental in mitigating these urges.
4. Get Out of Dangerous Situations
When you find yourself tempted due to the constant reminders of your previous life, it’s crucial to extract yourself from that environment. Persisting in visiting familiar places or participating in activities linked to your past usage can pave the way for a relapse.
Openly communicate with those around you about what provokes your desires. If you’re aware that returning to a beloved bar will trigger your yearning for a drink, it’s unwise to jeopardize your sobriety by placing yourself in such a risky situation. Anyone who fails to respect your dedication to maintaining a clean lifestyle doesn’t warrant a spot in your life.
5. Understand Your Triggers
In recovery, it’s unavoidable that specific individuals, locations, and situations will incite a desire to resort to substance abuse. Identifying these catalysts can arm you with the readiness to anticipate potential urges and evade them whenever feasible.
Consider creating a catalog of factors that spark your addiction and evaluate which ones you can avoid. Acknowledge that some triggers are inevitable, so devise plans to manage any cravings that might surface when these triggers present themselves.
Recovery from addiction can be difficult. That’s why it’s important to have strategies and techniques to help you manage and cope with cravings. We have provided 5 practical tips for dealing with cravings in addiction recovery, every step of which helps on the road to sobriety – recognizing triggers, using language in your thought processes, engaging in activities to distract yourself or redirect your focus away from the object of desire.