In some cases, you can anticipate the craving to come, which provides you with time to prepare for how you might address it. For example, you might be invited to attend a party for a friend you used with or you might be heading in a direction that forces you to pass a favorite bar from your past. Despite your ability to plan ahead for these events, you may still find the craving a difficult obstacle to overcome.

Then there are the urges and cravings that appear to come on without any warning whatsoever. You weren’t expecting that strong desire to appear; therefore, you were not prepared to meet and conquer it. Whether your craving is anticipated or seems to strike out of the blue, there are ways to handle these urges without derailing your recovery process.

Know Your Triggers

There are a number of factors that could trigger a craving:

  • Over-confidence in your recovery that allows you to “let your guard down”
  • Hunger, fatigue or loneliness due to lack of positive self-care
  • Periods of depression or despair, despite successful recovery efforts
  • Inability to meet unrealistic expectations, leading to feelings of failure
  • Selective memories of drinking or using that appear to be positive
  • Seeing friends or places where you used to drink or use

Some people in recovery find it is best to avoid potential triggers during the early weeks and even months of the recovery process. If you cannot avoid a trigger on this list, at least you can prepare for the craving so you are in a better position to resist it.

Embrace the Process

Remember that urges and cravings are a normal part of the recovery process, but the decision to let them jeopardize your recovery is yours alone. By avoiding triggers whenever possible and exercising positive coping mechanisms when cravings do arise, you will be able to ride out those urges with your sobriety intact. To learn more about dealing with urges and cravings, contact Treatment Now.

Know Your Coping Strategies

When it is impossible to avoid a trigger completely, or a craving overcomes you without warning, having a few coping strategies in place will help you to ride out the craving without jeopardizing your recovery:

  • Delay giving into the craving. In most cases, simply putting time between the craving and your reaction will allow you to manage the craving positively.
  • Have some distraction techniques in your bag of tricks, such as taking a walk with your dog, grabbing a book or calling a friend. Use one of these tricks until the craving passes
  • Remember the reasons why you decided to stop using in the first place, and let your mind mull those unpleasant memories until the craving passes sufficiently.
  • Remind yourself that while you may not be able to stop the craving from occurring, you can decide how you will respond to it.
  • Practice relaxation techniques like deep-breathing exercises or meditation to clear your mind so you can constructively deal with the craving.