Through recovery, there are many things to manage and cope with. You may find that you have a hard to coping with cravings to use substances again.
This may be especially difficult during the beginning stages of recovery. However, cravings can happen at later stages as well. They can present themselves again during moments of high stress and other hardships.
Unmanaged cravings may put you at a higher risk of relapse. Understanding how to cope with cravings that arise can help keep you on track to success.
What Are Cravings?
In the context of addiction recovery, cravings are conscious experiences that remind you of your past substance use. Often, they occur when certain stimuli are present. These can include objects, images, or memories you associate with substance use.
Similar to food cravings, the desire to indulge in substances can be hard to resist. At times, your body may feel that it needs to use this substance and satisfy the craving to properly function. However, resisting the craving is essential to avoid relapse.
How to Cope With Cravings
Establishing coping mechanisms to assist with these cravings can help you to overcome them. Experiment with some of the following coping mechanisms to find what coping mechanisms work best for you.
When you feel your craving pushing your willpower to a high extent, step back and take a moment to breathe. Take deep breaths, focusing only on your breathing patterns.
Allow yourself to let go of your other surroundings and signals your body is sending to you. Simply focus on the oxygen you need to calm these sensations. Feel the air flowing in and out of your body with each inhale and exhale. Use this moment to ground yourself and realign your focus. This will make it so that your craving is not at the top of your mind, even momentarily. Moment by moment, you can resist your craving.
Your body requires a sufficient amount of oxygen to function properly. Utilize your breathing to assist you through this moment of hardship.
#2. Keep Yourself Busy
When you have nothing to do but sit within your thoughts, it can be easy to focus on your craving. If you find yourself in this situation, do something to keep your mind busy and distract yourself.
This can be something as simple as chewing a stick of gum and focusing on the flavor and movements of your mouth. Alternatively, going for a walk and focusing on the scenery around you can help you get your mind off your craving. Switching your current activity to anything more engaging can help you resist your craving.
The possibilities available to keep yourself busy are endless. Find something that requires you to focus and is enjoyable to you to distract yourself from the craving.
In many cases, distracting yourself from your feelings is not the best way to manage or cope with feelings. With cravings, however, this is often the most effective way to avoid falling into the trap of this enticement. While temporarily distracting yourself may not permanently resolve your feelings of cravings, it will keep you away for the time being. With continued use of these distractions, you will begin to notice that your cravings will diminish over time, eventually dissipating completely.
#3. Set a Timer
As you notice a craving beginning to set in, try to time it. Consider setting a timer for one hour. Most periods of cravings are very intense during the first 20 to 30 minutes. However, they begin to dissipate rapidly as time goes on.
Being aware of this time frame may help you to recognize that your craving will not last forever. In fact, they will dissipate over time. If you can distract yourself and get through the first half of this hour, the craving will typically begin to decrease. Eventually, they may disappear altogether.
Tracking time is not the best method for everyone. For some individuals, it leads them to focus more on their craving. Only utilize this method if it helps you to understand that there is an end.
This method works best when combined with other methods of distraction. Consider doing another engaging activity during the hour. This way, your focus on other things will help your cravings diminish faster.
#4. Analyze Your Cravings
After you encounter a craving, it can be extremely beneficial to analyze aspects of the craving experience. Look at the potential triggers within your environment or emotional state that may have contributed to the craving.
Analyze how you handled the situation by looking at the coping mechanisms you applied. Determine if that coping mechanism was beneficial or if any alterations were needed to provide better results. This process of analyzing your craving can help you to learn from the experience. This knowledge can help you understand what to do the next time a craving arises.
It may take multiple occurrences to understand what you need and properly analyze the situation. Fortunately, your understanding will improve over time.
Long-Term Management of Cravings
In dealing with cravings through your long-term recovery, it is important to utilize aftercare services. While your cravings will diminish in occurrence and severity as you move along through recovery, they can still arise when you least expect them.
Being prepared to utilize the aftercare services available to you and understanding ways for you to cope with these cravings can keep you on track during these surprise attacks. You can also utilize your memory to remind you why you are here and what you have overcome.
Cravings are common obstacles to manage during the early stages of recovery and the withdrawal process, but the potential for cravings to occur does not end there. Cravings may occur at any point in your recovery journey. Understanding the coping mechanisms that work for you to manage cravings and setting yourself up to be able to overcome cravings is essential. It may take experimentation to determine which coping mechanisms work best for you to resist cravings. Try these suggestions to help overcome these moments and regain your focus on recovery. To learn more about some of the mechanisms that can be utilized to help cope with cravings, reach out to Dream Recovery today at (657) 216-7218.