What to Do About Cravings

Aug 15, 2021

When you feel that itch to use, don’t panic. Your brain has to readjust to sobriety. Think of it as a groove. You developed a habit, digging the groove deeper every time, a trench that increased over time. Now that you’re sober, you have to get out of that trench. Cravings are your brain telling you that you want to fall back into that old groove, even if you don’t really want to. Cravings let you know that it is time to teach your brain some new tricks. 

Talk to Someone

In recovery, you need other people who have experienced addiction and recovery themselves. One way to do this is to participate in a 12-Step program such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA). You can look for local support groups with a simple Google search. Once you have a sponsor, you can call them when you feel the compulsion to use. You can also utilize others who are part of the same support groups when you feel cravings arise.  

Throughout your sober self-discovery, you’ll need to work through mental and emotional difficulties. Finding a therapist or counselor you trust can help with this process. If you can’t afford a therapist, there are online groups you can connect with. Research servers and groups that are positive and helpful to its members. You might have a friend who’s a good listener; even if they aren’t dealing with addiction, it’s good to talk to somebody until the urge subsides. 

Unveiling Your Past

Addiction isn’t your fault. To know yourself as you are now, you should learn about what sets off a craving. Instead of spinning out, think about why this particular person or thing makes you want to use it. Just like driving in icy conditions, don’t yank the wheel or try to make an abrupt turn; you have to ease into where the car is gliding and make slow movements. 

When you get a craving, write down what you are doing when it starts. Begin figuring out what your triggers are. It could be an old habit, like using it at a particular hour of the day, and now your brain expects you to use it at that time. It might also have something to do with the subject somebody brings up or the music you listen to reminding you of using. 

It’s helpful to examine the craving itself from an objective standpoint. Maybe you’re reminded of a person you hurt or who hurt you, and emotionally you can’t deal with it. It might have been because of the way your parents treated you or the burden you couldn’t handle. In the past, that made you want to use. Now that you’re figuring out your triggers, you can change course. Start a different groove. 

Redirect Your Thoughts

Be honest about how terrible you felt when you used, the hangover, the horror of not remembering or saying something foolish, the cringe. Associate using with the reality of it. Know that using is not the real you. Maintain a positive mindset about the present. Consider how it feels to be sober. Yes, the edges are sharper, and everything wasn’t instantly fixed. The other side of that is you are clear-minded and make better decisions. You can improve yourself. You have empathy for others. 

Early sobriety is similar to a second puberty. Our emotional growth is stunted by addiction. When we quit, we have to experience life in new ways, starting from day one. We get to choose who this new person will be. 

Find different ways to spend your time. You’ll need to change your environment even if you can’t move somewhere else. Some different ways you can spend your time include: 

  • Volunteering: Do you need a distraction? Make the world, your community, a better place by being present in it and giving back to it. There are many volunteer options, organizations that need you. Invest your time and energy in kindness. Focus on someone else in a way that isn’t codependent. Local shelters always need volunteers. 
  • Physically work through cravings: Do some stretching, then go for a jog until you break a sweat. Take a walk. Lift weights, do dome sit-ups. It can be satisfying to physically fight the desire by putting your energy toward some other activity that is healthy and productive. 
  • Treat your body to something healthy: You no longer put poison in your system. Cook something enriching or make a refreshing nonalcoholic beverage. Fully experience the act of loving your body.
  • Engage in something that gives you joy: Think like a kid. Play a video game. Remove shame. Experience new ways of being that include silliness and humor. You have to combat fear by doing something unusual at the moment. Surprise yourself into simple delight. Be vulnerable. Learn to laugh at yourself good-naturedly. 

When you experience cravings in recovery, remember to go easy on yourself. Cravings are a natural part of healing. The neurons in your brain learned to rely on a hit of that drug or substance. Cravings are temporary. This, too, shall pass. It takes time to establish new habits. When you need someone to assist you through a tough craving, Renaissance Ranch is here. Renaissance Ranch wants you to succeed and live a meaningful sober life. You are the focus of your sobriety, and that means being clear about the next steps. It’s a brave move to ask for help. Don’t be ashamed to call Renaissance Ranch today and discover treatment options. Call (801) 308-8898 to learn about services and programs that suit your needs. Connect today with people who care about where you’re heading. You deserve a life worth living, and we at Renaissance Ranch can provide that for you.