With many substance addictions, the temptation to continue using even after you have given up regular use and are in recovery can continue long past the time when you have given up regular use and are in recovery. These cravings for alcohol, opioids, and other substances can be extreme, but giving in to a craving could potentially set you back months in your recovery process.
Knowing that it is alright to expect cravings and what to do when you feel one can help you achieve another victory over your addiction and continue to stay in control of your cravings.
Coping Strategies for Addiction Cravings
Cravings for substances you were previously addicted to can occur at different times and in a range of intensities. You may experience a more minimal but consistent craving that results in vivid dreams, irritability, or anxiousness.
You may also experience intense cravings from time to time, potentially in response to a trigger that previously would have compelled you to drink or use drugs. These cravings can be intense enough that you seriously consider using again, but there are steps you can take to stop yourself and make diminish the craving:
- Give It Time – Cravings will almost always pass naturally if given enough time as long as you can avoid acting on the craving before that.
- Find a Distraction – If you can distract yourself as long as the craving lasts, you will lessen its intensity. Try engaging in a physical activity or a mental activity that takes all your focus.
- Remind Yourself Why You Quit – When you are feeling a craving, it is easy to only think of the positives of drinking alcohol or using drugs. Instead, name to yourself some of the negative outcomes if you were to act on this craving.
- Build a Self Care Kit – You can help yourself prepare for cravings by building a self care kit that can help you feel better when you are experiencing physical discomfort from a craving. Fill the kit with things that engage your senses, such as a bar of chocolate or a nice smelling candle. Or make a virtual self care kit with songs you like to listen to to help distract you when you feel a craving. You might also include words you find inspiring to help you stay strong.
When you are able to let a craving pass without acting on it, score another win for your mental and physical health. Over time cravings should become less intense and less regular, making them easier to bear.
It is important to note that these cravings are different from what you will experience during withdrawal. These cravings are almost entirely psychological, unlike the cravings that you will feel during withdrawal, which can have physical symptoms that make you extremely sick or can even be dangerous.
When you want to overcome an addiction, the right help managing both the withdrawal and the cravings that come after will make the process easier. Aware Behavioral Health has services for addiction treatment in Dallas to help you with alcohol use disorder, opioid addiction, overcoming drug use, and other addictions. Contact our team to get more information about psychiatry in Dallas for addiction.