Recovery comes with challenges and, largely, that challenge is yourself. You’ve got to face all the feelings, thoughts, cravings, and doubts that exist inside. You’ve got to face those experiences without the old tactic of avoidance through the use of substances.
However, recovery also comes with an enormous amount of support . You’ve got your 12-step community, a sponsor, and likely a drug counselor or therapist. You might also have your family and friends around you. And if you’re residing in a sober living home, then you’ve also got your sober living community to rely upon as well. Another form of support are the tools that you can use to manage your stress, cope with difficult circumstances, and keep cravings at bay.
For instance, a tool that you might use to keep away those pesky desires to drink or use drugs is called the Four D’s. It is a classic tool well known throughout the recovery world primarily because it has helped many recovering addicts stay sober and prevent relapse. It goes like this:
Delay the craving
- Cravings don’t last forever. They’re are like feelings. They come and go. If you can simply tell yourself to wait it out, you’ll likely find that the craving will go away. In fact, if you can delay a craving by waiting 20 minutes, you’ll generally find the cravings simply disappear.
- You may suddenly have the urge to drink but instead of acting on that urge, you decide to do something else. And when you engage in another activity, you take your mind off the craving. Distracting yourself to manage your cravings is like peeling your attention away from the craving and gluing your attention to something else. Instead of giving into an urge to use, distract yourself with a healthy activity.
Deep breathe and relax
- When you’re relaxed, you have greater access to those inner resources that keep you making the best decisions for yourself. And deep breathing is one of the most powerful, accessible, relaxation tools above all others. For instance, you might begin to breathe deeply in the heat of a craving. You can simply stop what you’re doing and breathe. Doing so, keeps you centered in your present life and keeps you from making rash decisions.
- Cravings often seem to come with catastrophe. In fact, there’s a good chance that the reason why you’re having a craving is because you feel panic or fear or anxiety about something. So, to help keep the craving at bay, find a way to de-catastrophize. You can begin by easing your thoughts. Instead of thinking, “It’s all going to fall apart,” you might think to yourself instead, “It’s a bit challenging now but I’ll get through this.” Use relaxation tools, such as deep breathing, to get out of catastrophe mode and into a more realistic response to your current circumstances.
These are suggestions for making it through the challenge of cravings. Remember that cravings don’t last forever. Knowing that is your best weapon against them.