This part-one of a three-part series about how to manage cravings.
Cravings – A Simple Definition
No matter how long you have been recovering from an addiction to drugs or alcohol, you will have to deal with cravings from time to time. In early recovery, cravings are the strongest. However; cravings can manifest themselves at any point in your sobriety. Knowing how to manage cravings is the key to successful, ongoing recovery. By accepting that you will have cravings, you can be much better equipped to deal with them when they happen.
Before we talk about cravings in greater detail, let us first define what a craving is. According to the most widely accepted dictionary definition, a craving is “an intense, urgent, or abnormal desire or longing for something.”
When you suddenly have an overwhelming desire to use drugs or drink alcohol, you are experiencing a craving. Cravings are usually fleeting experiences that pass rather quickly. To avoid relapse, you have to ride the craving out and get to the other side. If you give into the craving and reintroduce mood or mind-altering substances into your body, you will have to start the recovery process all over again.
Cravings Are A Reality In Recovery
Although you would rather do without them altogether, it is important to recognize that cravings are a reality in recovery. Drugs and alcohol have a profound impact on the brain. The fact is, your body loves the feeling of intoxication and euphoria. For years, you fed your body chemicals that caused you to feel high or drunk. Your body wants more of this feeling, so it will alert you to continue to feed it with more chemicals through cravings.
Although they are very uncomfortable, cravings are a normal part of the recovery process. Many people feel ashamed when they have a craving because they feel that it is a sign of weakness. This is not true. Cravings are nothing more than a biological response to the absence of drugs and alcohol.
Just because you have a craving doesn’t mean you have to act on it. If you do, you may experience some temporary relief, but shame and guilt are sure to follow. Plus, if you give into the craving, the craving will be that much more intense next time – and there will be a next time. You have to learn how to resist the cravings.
Cravings Are Usually Triggered
A craving can seem to come out of nowhere, but there is usually something that triggers a craving.
Although you do have the power to resist cravings, it is much better if you can find a way to avoid them. While this isn’t always possible, there are some things you can do to keep cravings at a minimum. One of the ways to do this is to identify your triggers.
Triggers are internal and external cues that cause a recovering person to crave drugs or alcohol. These are very powerful response mechanisms that exist in the brain and trigger a desire to return to chemical substances.
Be sure to read Managing Cravings In Recovery – Part Two to learn more about triggers.
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