Almost everything that people in recovery learn ultimately has to do with enabling them to stop using drugs or alcohol.
This includes insights gained through behavioral therapy, which helps clients discover the root causes of addiction.
Being able to handle drug cravings in a healthy way is a fundamental recovery skill that is especially important during the beginning stages of treatment but will serve people throughout their recovery journeys.
Reach Out To Your Social Support Network
You may have several loved ones, including family members and friends, or even peers you met while in treatment who are in support of your addiction recovery and want to be there for you.
Family Members And Friends
Some addiction treatment programs involve family members in clients’ treatment plans through family education, family therapy, or other services.
Even if your family didn’t participate in your recovery formally, they may want to support you the best they can.
Close friends may feel the same way. You’ll likely know whether or not a loved one is someone you can turn to by the quality of your current relationship.
Though not professional, this type of support can be instrumental in achieving lasting recovery. People you met and clicked with during treatment may become new lifelong friends as well.
You can also join a support group, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA). Many rehab centers introduce their clients to these groups and encourage them to attend local meetings.
AA and NA are based on the 12-step recovery program, which for decades has helped many people maintain sobriety. Members have mentors who sponsor them and act as support when they experience drug cravings or other difficulties.
You can find other support groups as well, such as the faith-based support group Celebrate Recovery.
Reach Out To Your Aftercare Support
Some treatment centers offer an aftercare program that can help you through your initial months outside of a rehab program.
Some aftercare programs are elaborate, offering different stages of support or even lifetime support.
Aftercare may consist of one or more of the following:
- sober living arrangements
- maintenance appointments with your counselor or therapist
- alumni programs
- peer recovery coaching
Label Unhelpful Thoughts
One of the most common treatments used by rehab centers is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT teaches people how to recognize unhelpful thought patterns that influence unwanted behaviors.
Catching negative thoughts related to drug cravings early on, such as “I’m too weak to resist,” or “I’m never successful” can help keep these thoughts from influencing your behavior.
Journaling can help with this practice. Some people find that keeping a regular journal helps them notice when unhelpful thoughts are showing up.
Create Perspective Through Mindfulness
While not an evidence-based treatment like CBT, mindfulness is a good skill to learn for addiction recovery.
It could be described as a state of being in the present moment that enables you to be mindful of your emotions and your surroundings without reacting.
Meditation can help build physical and emotional awareness, or mindfulness, helping you notice negative emotions and thought patterns in their early stages.
Through meditation and mindfulness, as well as other holistic treatment strategies, you have the opportunity to remind yourself that this current craving is only temporary and that cravings are a normal part of the recovery process.
It is recommended to learn meditation from a qualified meditation teacher who has experience with students facing addiction.
Leave The Situation
Sometimes drug cravings can be very intense, catching you by surprise, or seem to last an especially long time.
If you find yourself in a situation where you feel overwhelmed and ill-equipped to deal with a craving, it is probably best to leave the situation.
Over time, you will strengthen other coping skills that allow you to stay present, but if leaving a situation keeps you from giving into a craving, you will have been successful.
One of the best coping mechanisms for successful substance abuse recovery is physical activity. Getting outside for a walk or even running on a treadmill gives you a boost of endorphins, which helps lift your mood.
Regular exercise can also be preventative. Having an exercise routine helps you maintain your mental health and well-being, which can help you be prepared to deal with cravings when they come up.
Substitute The Craving
Finally, you can deal with a craving by replacing it with something else. And this is one that you can also use with other strategies.
For example, you can replace a drug craving with physical activity. You can also replace it with a hobby or a new interest.
You can also replace it with a hobby or a new interest. Write a list of things that you can do to take your mind off of the drug craving and have it handy for when it happens.
Find Addiction Treatment
Are you or a loved one facing a substance use disorder? Call us today for all the information you need to start your recovery journey.Article Sources
- National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) — Addiction Relapse Prevention
- National Insititute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) — Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction Treatment and Recovery
- SMART Recovery — 5 Ways to Deal With Urges and Cravings
- Very Well Mind — How to Overcome an Addiction