One of the hardest things substance abusers go through in their road to recovery is experiencing cravings for their drug of choice. This craving is common in the early recovery stage. It is characterized by an intense craving for drugs or alcohol and an inability to stop thinking about them. It is these characteristics of early recovery cravings for drugs and alcohol that keeps makes it very difficult for recovering drug addicts and alcoholics to maintain their focus on getting sober.
Having cravings is like seeing or smelling delicious food when you are very hungry. A physical reaction happens in the brain that causes our mouths to salivate and stomach to growl. The same thing works with drugs and alcohol. The pleasure center of the brain is triggered, causing intense cravings. Drugs in movies and beer commercials can easily can easily trigger cravings.
When these cravings arise, it is important to take some preventive measures to keep you from relapsing. Here are some of the things you can do to help you deal with early recovery drug and alcohol cravings:
- Check yourself in to a sober living home. Sober living homes provide a safe environment for recovering addicts and their programs help keep residents stay on track. Recovering substance-abusers will receive support and camaraderie from other residents. Sober living homes also minimize distractions and stress triggers, allowing residents to fully focus on their recovery.
- Go to therapy. The reason why people sometimes do drugs or drink alcohol is because they do not want to (or cannot) deal with difficult or uncomfortable emotions. Drugs and alcohol make it all go away, at least for a while. Attending therapy will help them learn how to handle emotions the right way, and will help curb your craving for drugs or alcohol.
- Seek help for dual diagnosis. Dual diagnosis refers to addiction and mental health issues that co-occur. Usually, when people with dual diagnosis get treatment for their addiction, they neglect to seek treatment for their mental health problems like anxiety or depression. And because people resorted to drugs to fight the symptoms of their anxiety or depression, leaving mental health problems untreated can cause a relapse.
- Call someone who is supportive of your recovery. It could be a family member, a good friend, your sponsor. Just make sure that the person you call can help you decide to stay sober.
- Get moving. Hitting the gym, running or dancing can help get your mind off of your cravings. When you perform physical activities that get your body movie and your heart rate up, hormones are released that help make you feel great. When you are feeling good, your risks of relapsing are greatly reduced.