Addiction: How To Manage Cravings In Recovery


By; BADIKO NEHEMIAH (Recovery Coach)

As recovering addicts, handling cravings in recovery is a great task and difficult to overcome. However, it is possible to manage and control. What Are Cravings? “Cravings is an intense desire to feel the effects of drug or alcohol. A mental state during which a person is focused solely on obtaining drugs or alcohol. A desire to use drugs or alcohol when presented with an opportunity”. Alcohol or drug is powerful than you but you are powerful and stronger than your cravings. You can overcome your cravings if you work hard towards developing your spiritual way of life and selfless service of helping others achieve sobriety. You are not alone dealing with cravings in your recovery. 

Everybody in recovery has dealt with or is dealing with cravings, and it is normal to experience stronger or obvious cravings at the early stage of your recovery. Cravings lessens over time as you keep working your recovery program and stay sober. Learn to resist your cravings no matter how overwhelming they come your way. “This too shall pass”.

Managing cravings in recovery is a hard work and it feels impossible to escape the temptation. But when you resist the feeling to use the drug or alcohol, help or victory over it becomes possible. You can take some actions or steps to control your cravings when they present themselves. In recovery, craving is as old as relapse. Because cravings can develop into relapse when not properly managed. “When cravings present themselves to you, you may be left with an option of using the substance but you can still resist the feeling without using”. Thurga said. Old memories of active drinking and euphoria can produce cravings in recovery. 

When you stop using drug or alcohol and the body is not getting the substance, the brain may experience intense desire to use these substances so it can relax but the drug or alcohol will not really give you the good feeling you desire. Cravings don’t just happen. They are caused or prompted by situations or events, people, places, and things pleasing to you. Each recovering addict is always triggered by his or her own desires to use the substance. There are different triggers to substance use, but 4 are outstanding:

Social triggers, Pattern triggers, Emotional triggers, and Withdrawal triggers. When you learn how to manage and control your cravings it will help you to prevent relapse and provide you with basic knowledge and readiness to overcome your next cravings.Read ahead and learn new strategies and techniques of overcoming your cravings in recovery.

Here are 7 steps to assist you Manage your Cravings in Recovery:

1. Accept the Feeling

Cravings are normal feeling that occurs in recovery. The first thing to do when you face cravings is to accept the feeling as normal process of recovery. Having the feeling to use substance is not the same as using the substance. You are only challenged or confronted with the thought to use the substance and you have the willpower to resist the feeling to use. Remember, you are not alone dealing with cravings, everyone in recovery has dealt with or is dealing with cravings and it is not a relapse but a normal feeling in recovery. Don’t mind the cravings but mind your recovery and accept it that you are having a strong desire to use. When you accept the feeling as normal process does not mean you must use but is just to remind you that you have stopped using the substance and you are in recovery, this will help you to resist the urge.

2. Eat Fruit and Snack

Fruit is naturally the best option when you face cravings for alcohol or drugs. Fruit is “an extremely nutritious snack. It provides prebiotic fiber, antioxidants and beneficial plant compounds, all in very few calories”. Eating fruit has been linked to better health and a lower risk of diseases like heart disease and obesity. One 2015 review found that “eating 300 grams (or 4servings) of fruit per day reduced the risk of heart disease”.Also you can eat snacks like Yogurt, a hot tea or coffee, dark chocolate, potato chips, banana, ice cream, popcorn, soybeans milk, Coca-Cola and what have you. However, you will still need to watch your weight for good health. Balanced amounts of these snacks are connected to healthy living while large amounts will have negative effects on your health.

3. Distract the Feeling

Another step you need to take when you are facing a strong craving is to distract yourself. Find something to do and distract or stop the cravings at that point in time. Cravings come with overwhelming force, but they do not last longer as you think or feel. A research work shows that most cravings last for 15 minutes. So engage yourself in one activity or another for that 15 minutes. Thurga said that, “The reason cravings can feel like they last longer is because we keep them active or alive in our minds for longer period of time. We try to deny that the craving is happening in our minds because we refuse to divert it with extra activities”. You can distract yourself from the feeling of cravings by engaging into doing something you are passionate about. Think about your likes or hobbies-what you like doing and get busy. What about playing your best game? What about reading your favourite book? What about eating your fovourite food? I mean, do something crazy or funny to distract your attention from the cravings.

4. Analyze the Event

When you are facing a strong or obvious cravings that feels irresistible, assess the event or situation that led to it. Possibly there is an event or situation that triggered the cravings. Are you hanging around old friends who are still using and they are tempting you to use? Are you in a chaotic or drinking environment? Are you hungry or thirsty? Whatever situation you find yourself, press “escape” in your mind and change the event. Take note of the event that triggered your cravings to avoid further reoccurrence. Remember, your recovery is more important than your pleasure.

5. Change your Thoughts

The Holy book says, “…each man is tempted when, by his own evil desires, he is dragged away and enticed”.Most times cravings come based on the constant thoughts you have about the substance in your mind. If you are always thinking about the substance in your mind, you are likely to face strong cravings and the desire to use. In this situation, you must change or switch your thoughts away from the substance to something meaningful that will help you control your negative thoughts. Examine your mind and identify where your negative thoughts are coming from. Replacing your negative thoughts about yourself with positive ones will help you escape the feeling of your cravings. Learn to always have the mind of God in your general conduct or affairs.

6. Reflect on Negative Effects

Backward reflection is a powerful step in managing your cravings. When you are facing an overwhelming cravings, make backward reflection on the negative effects of drug or alcohol on your life during your active drinking or addiction. Backward reflection means bringing experience of the past into the present situation. Think about the bad things or situations you found yourself in the past during your active use and do everything possible to avoid making the same mistakes.Thurga adds that, “Playing the tape allows us to observe the negative things we would feel about ourselves if we were to use again. We think about how we would ruin our sobriety, or how we would let ourselves down. We may even think about how we may hurt the ones we love”. Also reflecting on your blackouts is a powerful strategy to escape your cravings. Blackout is a “temporary loss of consciousness, sight or memory”. You may experience blackout and never remember anything about the incident. So reflecting on past incidents of blackouts will help you resist your cravings. 

7. Share how you Feel

A problem shared is a problem half solved. You need to share how you feel about your cravings with someone you trust can help you overcome them. Share how you feel with someone you know has experienced and dealt with cravings to help you handle your own cravings. When you keep how you feel to yourself, you might not succeed in dealing with your cravings. But when you share how you feel with a sponsor or someone in recovery like you, help becomes possible.Sharing how you feel about your cravings or urge with someone you trust can reduce the burden of struggling with them alone. In this step, you can use phone therapy to experience relief from your cravings. Call someone who’s in recovery like you and share how you are feeling about your cravings. You may get help and escape the temptation to use


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