Cravings, along with triggers, are a huge part of the potential pitfalls to relapse when we talk about early recovery. Even people who know very little about addiction and alcoholism recognize the fact that people who are drunks or addicts have a hard time staying stopped when they attempt to do so. But for those of us who are in recovery and are serious about it, how can we go about dealing with them?
Won’t cravings go away for good?
The key word here is ‘deal’. Many people in AA may talk about their ‘obsession’ being lifted, and while I do not discount this statement, I can tell you for one thing it hasn’t happened for me, at least not completely. I have over two and a half years and the occasional thought of picking up still happens.
At first, I wanted it to just go away, but I quickly realized this was a waste of my time and energy. I can pray for the obsession to be lifted as much as I want, but in the meantime I needed to learn how to work through it rather than being upset about the fact that it’s still there.
How to deal with drug cravings
Whenever a feeling to use arises for me, I take myself through a few simple steps to figure out why it is that I am feeling that way. This helps me in immense ways, and aides in identifying reasons why my mind is taking me to that state of mind, as well as how I can get out of it.
Take a few deep breaths. Breathing is the focus of meditation, after all. Calm your mind down.
2. Look at your feet.
What are you doing right now? Think about what brought this on, what kind of mindset you were just in, and where you are going. Are you nervous? Irritable? Are you trying to avoid a situation? Work a quick tenth step and identify your feelings.
3. Recall Negative Events
Do you remember how bad it was? Sure you do. Think about that for a second. It’s not worth it, is it?
4. Be Grateful.
Do a mental gratitude list quickly. Find out what it is that you love about your life and remember that if you get loaded you can kiss it all goodbye.
Obsession or Craving?
Let me be clear, though. For myself, I believe that obsession and cravings are two sides of the same coin. In my own experience, I know that my first 60 days of sobriety I was in the grips of a strong obsession. Drugs were still the first thing I thought of when I woke up and the last thing I thought of when I went to sleep. I had been doing drugs consistently for a decade, and having them completely removed from my life left me with real shell shock. I didn’t know how to occupy my time and feel content without being high, so my mind was racing at all times.
Once that time passed, though, I still found myself from time to time thinking about using. These are what I identify as cravings. They are my obsession coming back, but in a smaller form. But now they weren’t nearly as strong, and I had learned enough about my disease and the irrationality of those thoughts that I was able to get past them. More often than not they arose out of situations stemming from stress, boredom, or resentment. But when they do come about, I know now how to deal with and get past them.