Upon deciding to quit using drugs or drinking alcohol, you will need to get help from professional counsellors or therapists. You may be advised to have inpatient or outpatient treatment to help you get through the first few weeks or months without the substance you were addicted to.
After a period of rehabilitation, you may be expecting your cravings for drugs or alcohol to subside, and they will in time, but it is important to realise that cravings may affect you for up to a year or longer in some cases.
In the early days, you may constantly be craving drugs or alcohol. As you get through each day, though, you should start to realise that you are only experiencing the cravings a few times per day. After a while, you may only get cravings every so often. Despite the fact that the cravings may go, you still have an addiction and need to be careful. Do not assume that because you are not experiencing cravings that you are completely cured and can go back to having a social drink every now and again it does not work like that.
Keeping Cravings Under Control
Cravings during recovery are dangerous as these can lead to relapse. Even if you have not had a craving for weeks or months, you are still susceptible, so you need to learn how to control them. It is crucial that you recognise cravings and deal with them as soon as they rear their head. This is because they can be so strong that you are in danger of forgetting how alcohol or drugs wrecked your life. If you do not deal with them immediately, you could succumb and end up right back where you started.
There are certain things you can do to deal with cravings, but you will probably need to engage in some trial and error to find which one works best for you.
Call Your Sponsor
The minute you feel a craving for drugs or alcohol, you may want to call or text your sponsor, counsellor or doctor. It might be a good idea to have a list of people you can call and have their numbers saved on your phone. When you reach someone, tell them how you are feeling. Just talking will help until the cravings subside. If you cannot reach anyone on the list, you may still find that the cravings have passed during the time it took you to call each person.
Find something to do that will distract you from the cravings. This could mean going for a drive or a walk, or doing something at home such as baking a cake or watching a movie. A hike in the country is an excellent choice because you will not be able to access alcohol or drugs, and being out in the open air should help make you feel better.
Meditating is a great way to help you deal with your cravings. If you have practiced mindfulness meditation in the past, this is a great time to use it. Mindfulness will help you to become aware of your feelings and to just let them be. You will be able to recognise them for what they are without acting on them.
Remember Why You Quit
Remind yourself of the reasons you wanted to quit alcohol or drugs. Think of all the good things in your life that will be destroyed if you fall back into your old ways again. Think about how far you have come and how disappointed you will be if you throw it all away.