Controlling Your Cravings


Controlling Your Cravings

  • Cravings are strong urges or desires to use a substance or engage in a behavior that you are trying to quit or reduce.
  • Cravings are normal and expected during the recovery process, but they can be challenging and uncomfortable to cope with.
  • However, there are some effective techniques that can help you manage your cravings and prevent relapse.

According to various sources¹²³⁴, some of the tips for coping with cravings are:

  • Delay. Cravings usually last for a short period of time and will fade away if you do not act on them.
  • Try to wait for at least 10 to 15 minutes before giving in to a craving.
  • You can use a timer or a clock to track the time and remind yourself that the craving will pass.
  • Escape. If you are in a situation or environment that triggers your craving,
  • Try to get away from it as soon as possible. For example,
  • if you are at a party where people are drinking alcohol, you can leave the party or go to another room where there is no alcohol.
  • Avoiding or escaping from triggers can help you reduce your exposure and temptation.
  • Accept. Instead of fighting or denying your craving, try to accept it as a normal and temporary part of recovery.
  • Acknowledge how you are feeling and what you are thinking without judging yourself or feeling guilty.
  • You can use mindfulness techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, or
  • body scan, to help you observe and accept your craving without acting on it.
  • Dispute. Sometimes, cravings are fueled by irrational or unhelpful thoughts that make you believe that you need or deserve the substance or behavior.
  • You can challenge these thoughts by using rational thinking and evidence-based arguments.
  • For example, if you think “I can’t cope without drugs”, you can dispute it by saying “I have coped without drugs before
  • and I can do it again” or “Drugs will only make my problems worse in the long run”.
  • Substitute. You can also cope with cravings by replacing the substance or behavior with something else that is healthy and satisfying.
  • For example, If you crave something sweet, you can eat a piece of fruit instead of candy.
  • If you crave gambling, you can play a board game or a video game instead of going to the casino.
  • Substituting can help you fulfill your needs in a positive way without harming yourself or others.
  • Exercise. Exercise is one of the easiest and most effective ways of reducing cravings because it releases endorphins which make you feel good and reduce stress.
  • Exercise can also distract you from your craving and improve your physical and mental health.
  • You can choose any type of exercise that you enjoy and that suits your fitness level, such as walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, dancing, or yoga.
  • Distract. Another way to cope with cravings is to distract yourself with something else that is interesting and engaging.
  • You can do any activity that occupies your attention and keeps your mind off your craving, such as reading, watching a movie, listening to music, playing with a pet, doing a crossword puzzle, or calling a friend.
  • Distracting yourself can help you break the cycle of craving and give you a sense of accomplishment.
  • Use your values as a compass. One of the most powerful ways to cope with cravings is to remind yourself of your values and goals in life.
  • Think about why you decided to quit or reduce your substance use or addictive behavior and how it aligns with your personal values.
  • For example, if you value your health, family, career, or spirituality, think about how staying sober or abstinent will help you achieve those values.
  • Using your values as a compass can help you stay motivated and committed to your recovery.

These are some of the techniques that can help you cope with cravings and prevent relapse. However, different techniques may work better for different people and situations. You may need to experiment and find out what works best for you. The key is to be prepared and have a plan for dealing with cravings when they arise. If you need more help or support with coping with cravings, please seek professional help or call the SAMHSA National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Source: Bing,
(1) How to Cope with Cravings | Steve Rose, Ph.D.
(2) 5 Ways to Deal With Urges and Cravings – SMART Recovery.
(3) Beat your cravings: 8 effective techniques | Mayo Clinic Diet.
(4) How to Cope With Withdrawal Cravings – Verywell Mind.

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