If you’re a recovering alcoholic – whether you’re early in your recovery or have many years of sobriety under your belt – cravings are likely going to be a part of your experience. Cravings aren’t easy. In fact, for some, it may be hard to identify a craving, especially for those who are new to sobriety. If you’re used to drinking or using drugs the moment you have a yearning for them, it may be hard to say no to cravings when they show up.
However, there are ways to manage those cravings so that they don’t get the best of you. One way is to simply distract yourself. In other words, 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.
Use Activities to Distract from Cravings
Here is a list of activities that can become a part of your distraction toolbox when a craving appears:
- Watch a movie.
- Chew on some gum.
- Listen to music.
- Get creative.
- Watch TV.
- Start writing in your journal.
- Play a game.
- Have a snack.
- Take a shower.
- Call someone you love and tell them you love them.
- Connect with your higher power through prayer or meditation.
- Practice yoga.
- Drink a glass of water.
- Go for a hike.
- Take your children out for the afternoon.
- Lend a helping hand to a friend or family member in need.
- Read a good novel.
- Write a letter to a friend.
- Make a list of all the things you want to do achieve in your life.
- Create a list of all the wonderful things you’d like to do – visit France, go skydiving, or become a public speaker.
- Volunteer at a local public service agency.
- Find ways to love yourself and do something to show this love every day.
- Clean your house or apartment.
- Surf the Internet for sobriety sites and find some inspiration.
- Engage your intellectual mind through reading or writing.
- Go dancing with friends.
- Wash your car.
- Move into a sober living home.
- Challenge yourself to learn a craft or skill you’ve always wanted to learn but haven’t, like playing the guitar.
- Dive into your work life and let your achievements motivate you.
- Practice running for a marathon and then find one to participate in.
- Surf the craving by letting it be there but don’t answer its call by actually using. See if you can just watch the craving inside yourself. This one is tough – don’t fall prey to the craving!
- Examine what might have led to the craving – a thought, a mood, a feeling. Then challenge yourself to shift that mood, feeling, or thought each time you experience it.
These are suggestions for curbing any impulsive reactions to cravings. Instead of giving into an urge to use, distract yourself with a healthy activity.