Don’t Panic: 4 Ways to Curb the Crave
Craving: An intense desire for someone or something. In this case, that “something” we’re talking about is a drug.
The concept of craving is often misunderstood. While we need to better understand the struggle and how to deal with it, we must first realize cravings are normal and to be expected.
Cravings are a common part of substance abuse. If your body is addicted to a drug, then the amount taken is suddenly lowered – or eliminated altogether – you’re going to experience cravings. It’s just part of the process. It doesn’t mean something is wrong or that you’re headed for a relapse.
Both physically and mentally, you’re conditioned to use a drug of choice. Cravings are simply a sign of that conditioned pattern of abuse. They tend to kick in when you first stop using, but they can sneak up at any time – even after you’re well into sobriety.
Cravings can lead to relapse, but they certainly don’t have to. If you acknowledge them and realize they’re to be expected, you can overcome them. To do this, use the following healthy coping methods and C.U.R.B. those cravings.
- (C)ircumvent TriggersCertain people, places and activities are likely to trigger cravings. These are things you associate with drug use in some way. If you can avoid these triggers, you’re less likely to experience cravings. You may need to change where you hang out, or the company you keep, or even where you live.
- (U)se Support SystemsDon’t try to manage every craving on your own. Talk it out with a friend, family member, sponsor, therapist or pastor. They provide the support you need to work through the craving without caving. It’s important to surround yourself with a sober network of individuals or groups you can call on for support.
- (R)ide it Out Remember, cravings are to be expected. Don’t try to ride it out by pretending they don’t’ exist. Come to terms with the fact that cravings are a part of recovery and they will pass. Studies show conditioned cravings hit like a wave, peaking and flowing out again in less than an hour. Try to remain calm, remind yourself these feelings will pass and ride the wave until it subsides. Stress, anxiety and anger only make cravings harder to handle.
- (B)uild BarriersBlock cravings by taking care of the other areas of your life that may otherwise allow them in. Eat healthy foods, exercise regularly, maintain your physical health. These are all things that create an environment that’s more resilient to cravings. The same is true with your mental health: Change thought patterns, transform your self-talk into healthy, positive mantras. You know yourself better than anyone; take steps to build barriers in the places you know are most vulnerable.
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