Tips for Coping with Cravings

red haired woman on park bench facing away from camera

By Cristina Utti

Human beings tend to be creatures of habit.

When we decide to get rid of bad habits, it takes some conscious effort. If you have made the decision to give up your addiction, you have already made the biggest step toward recovery. Craving what you have become accustomed to doing is normal. The thing to keep in mind is that most cravings only last a few minutes. The trick is to be prepared with tools when a craving hits and to make the necessary changes in your life so that all of the factors that led to your addiction will not lead you down the same road. The two main reasons a person uses drugs or alcohol is to relax or to escape. Being aware of your personal triggers will also help you know how to cope when a craving strikes.

Here are some tips to help get through addiction cravings:

  1. Make a list – Once you have made the decision to get sober, make a list of the reasons why you used. Becoming aware of your triggers will help you understand why you are feeling the way you are when a craving hits. It could be anything from a stressful day at work, to your children misbehaving, to an awful commute. When we are aware of what sets us off, we are better able to handle a craving because we have the understanding that this is how we used to deal with these situations.
  2. Learn relaxation techniques – When a craving hits, it usually only lasts up to ten minutes, although it may feel like much longer. Learn to breathe deep, stretch, go for a walk, or do something that relaxes you and takes your mind off of the desire to pick up. Keep in mind that the old way was a lie. Using does not make things better.
  3. A.L.T. Be aware of when you are hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. Drug and/or alcohol addictions often hide hunger. We often drank or got high when our bodies just needed some food. Sometimes an addiction becomes a friend, because we have used drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, etc., to comfort ourselves when lonely. When we were tired, we picked up for a “pick-me-up.” Listen to your body. If you are tired, take a nap. Make sure to eat well-balanced meals. Map out a plan to deal with tough emotions like anger or abandonment. Get involved in group meetings and get phone numbers. You never have to be lonely again because someone will always be there to pick up the phone when you are going through a rough time.
  4. Exercise – In the beginning of recovery, cravings can be very powerful. Doing something physical can make you feel better and give you a new, healthier habit. Go for a run, a bike ride, or a long walk. Every time you answer “no” to a craving, your addiction gets weaker, and your sobriety gains strength. Eventually, the cravings will dissipate completely.
  5. Cry – Sometimes a good cry is all we need to cleanse our soul and get back to feeling good again. It is okay to cry. If you are overcoming addiction, feelings have probably been buried for a long time. Give yourself permission to cry, but don’t get stuck in it. Feel the emotions, release them, and then get on with your day.

Making the decision to change the life we have been living may seem impossible at first, but with conscious effort, and help from those who care, it will get easier and easier.

If you or someone you love are suffering from addiction, please contact us now at 800.218.6727. We can help.