Cravings can be common in recovery and can be controlled in a variety of ways. When you experience a craving, you may not only have a mental yearning to use drugs or alcohol but have physical symptoms such as a headache, racing heartbeat, or anxiety. Cravings can vary in intensity: some may be easy to control while others may be intense and put you in danger of relapse.
Understand What Triggers a Craving
One of the most effective ways to control a craving for drugs or alcohol is to understand what your specific triggers are and how to anticipate them. Triggers can be:
- People. Seeing certain people that you once used drugs and alcohol with can often trigger a craving.
- Places. Visiting places that you frequented when you used drugs or alcohol can cause a craving to appear.
- Stress. Being under stress and remembering that you used drugs and alcohol to reduce the stress can cause a craving.
Triggers can change over time and with stress levels and moods, so it can be helpful to use a journal to keep track of your cravings and the circumstances that led to them. This level of self-awareness can go far in helping you stay on track.
Ways to Cope with Cravings
When a craving hits, it may be overwhelming and intense. Preparing yourself to cope with cravings can help you to be successful in your recovery. Some ways to cope with cravings for drugs or alcohol are:
- Eat healthy. If you pay attention to your diet and eat healthy, it can have an impact on how you feel. Cravings can be less intense or less frequent if you eat a diet that is lower in sugar and processed food and higher in whole foods such as vegetables, fruits, and protein. Eating a healthy diet can help stabilize your mood and can be beneficial throughout your journey of recovery.
- Keep busy. Distracting yourself when a craving occurs can keep it under control. You can try going for a walk, writing in a journal, meditating, or doing some other activity until the craving passes. Doing some type of physical activity can be engaging for both the body and mind and is a great way to reduce a craving.
- Be mindful. Staying focused on the present moment by breathing, meditating, and recognizing your emotions can help get your cravings under control. Being mindful of the moment can allow you to recognize that cravings are only temporary and will pass.
- Remove yourself from the situation. If you are experiencing a craving in a specific situation, remove yourself from it immediately. Maybe specific places you used to visit remind you of the time that you used drugs or alcohol. Don’t go to those places. If being around certain people triggers a craving, surround yourself with those who are supportive of your sobriety.
- Attend a support group meeting. Being surrounded by others who can relate to your struggles can help you stand firm when cravings hit. Groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous play important roles in helping people maintain sobriety and manage cravings. Knowing you are not alone in your journey can make a difference in a lasting recovery. There are support group meetings in almost any area where you may be, even if you are away from home. Sometimes just talking to others about your cravings and understanding the source can help reduce their intensity.
- Take care of yourself. If you are neglecting yourself, you can be more susceptible to cravings. Not getting enough sleep or taking the proper care of your body and mind can have a negative effect on your recovery. If you are well-rested and in good health, it makes it easier to conquer cravings and stay sober.
- Find a friend. Having a supportive friend that you can turn to when a craving occurs can help you resist the urge to use drugs or alcohol. The friend should either be sober or respect and support your commitment to sobriety.
Cravings Come & Go
SMART Recovery stresses that learning to accept that you may experience cravings and understanding that they will pass is a normal part of the recovery process. Cravings won’t kill you and can pass as quickly as they appear. As you grow in your recovery, cravings will decrease in their intensity and frequency.
We Are Here To Help
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction and are looking for a Pennsylvania recovery center, contact Mountain Laurel Recovery Center. We offer a range of services that can meet your or a loved one’s specific needs. To find out more about the programs we have to offer, contact us today!