Recovery from alcohol addiction doesn’t happen overnight. Addiction recovery is a lifelong process that people must manage every day, even after completing a comprehensive rehab program.
One of the most important parts of recovering from alcohol addiction is learning how to live with cravings. Cravings come and go and are more or less intense in certain situations, but they are a fact of life in recovery. The better prepared you are to manage your cravings without giving in to them, the more likely you’ll be to avoid relapse and stay focused on living the healthy, sober lifestyle you choose.
This article will give you ten practical ways to cope with alcohol cravings. You can use these skills to ride the wave of cravings and stay sober, even when it’s challenging. For more information about recovering from alcohol addiction or how to find high-quality treatment, reach out to the specialists at Arise Treatment Center now.
10 Ways to Cope With Alcohol Cravings
Cravings can occur in many situations as you go about your daily life. In some cases, known triggers can lead to intense but predictable cravings. In others, a craving may come out of the blue and take you by surprise.
Knowing reliable ways to cope with alcohol cravings can help you stay sober and can empower you as you progress in recovery.
Here are ten ways to cope with alcohol cravings.
1. Set a timer
When you’re in the midst of a craving, you may feel like it will never end–unless you drink again. However, most cravings last 45 minutes or less. When a craving hits, remind yourself that you won’t feel this way forever. Set a timer for 30 minutes or an hour and use it to track how much progress you’ve made. As each minute passes, you’ll likely feel more confident that you can make it until the end of the craving without drinking.
2. Find a distraction
When a craving strikes, be ready with a distraction. You could watch a favorite movie, call a friend, walk, do push-ups, play a musical instrument, or do anything else you enjoy. Get out of the house and go for a jog, do push-ups, research an interest on the internet, or go for a drive. The list of possible distractions is endless. Use a craving as an excuse to do something you like and remind yourself that the craving will pass if you don’t give in to it.
3. Find a substitute
Think of something you could do in place of drinking or using drugs that is similar in some way. Drink a soda, chew gum, smoke a cigarette (if you already use tobacco products), or have a snack. Find a safe substitute for the substances that could lead to relapse and indulge in them when cravings are intense.
4. Use mindfulness
Meditation, breathing exercises, and other forms of mindfulness can help you get through a craving without giving in. Learning and practicing meditation can give you the tools to separate thoughts and emotions, allowing you to manage cravings without feeling anxious, angry, or guilty. Mindfulness practices will enable you to find calm in chaos and put you in better control of your emotions.
5. Keep track
Cravings can be distressing, but they also provide valuable information you can use to your benefit. Keep a record of your cravings. Write down when they occurred, what happened beforehand, how strong they are on a scale of 1-10, and how long they last. You can use this information to reassure yourself that cravings pass and you don’t have to give in to them.
6. Question the craving
A craving can feel intense, and you may feel like it’s in the driver’s seat. But if you can shift your thinking and think about a craving as a message, you can stay in control. Ask yourself, “Where is this coming from?” and use it as a sign that you need to use your coping skills.
7. Practice drink refusal
Practice refusing a drink assertively. Look people in the eye when you say “no,” then change the subject. If a person pressures you to have a drink, firmly tell them to stop. The more confident you feel saying no to a drink, the more likely you’ll be to refuse one in a social setting–even when experiencing a craving.
8. Get to know your cravings
Sometimes, a craving may feel chaotic or intense, and you may react out of fear or other emotions. When a craving hits, take a moment to breathe. Notice what the craving feels like. Is your heart racing? Are your thoughts jumbled up? Are your muscles tense? Noticing the craving’s effects can reduce its power.
9. Use your support
Cravings threaten to derail your progress in recovery and can make you feel isolated or alone in your experiences. But many people can relate to the feeling and can help you tap into your strengths to cope with them without relapsing. Call a friend, mentor, or sober coach who can provide immediate support during a craving.
10. Surf the urge
A craving can feel overwhelming and disorienting. It might be helpful to think of a craving as a wave that will rise and fall and then disappear. Instead of allowing the wave to pull you under, imagine that you will surf the wave. You’ll stay on top of even the most intense cravings by remembering that this feeling will end and that it is not in control of your actions.
Learn How to Cope With Alcohol Cravings
If you or someone you love is in recovery from alcohol addiction and want to learn more effective tools to cope with alcohol cravings, reach out to the Arise Treatment Center specialists now. Our dedicated team of caring professionals can provide you with the support, education, and treatment you need to put addiction in the past and embrace a healthier, sober future.