If you’re a recovering alcoholic, experiencing cravings is a constant concern. A craving can come upon you at any moment and, while cravings typically last 20 minutes or less, you’ll need to have plenty of tools to help you resist them. Even a minor relapse can negatively impact your recovery and undo all of the goals you’ve previously achieved, so it’s important to know how to manage those cravings. In general, the goal is to find some way to outlast those 20 minutes, but the activity you choose should be enjoyable enough that you’ll be distracting your thoughts away from the urge to use. While in rehab, you’ll learn to adopt a healthier way of life. This will improve your longevity and quality of life, but it also works as one of the best ways to distract you from your cravings. Engaging in regular physical activity will give you a healthy way to focus your thoughts, so you won’t be thinking about the cravings. Additionally, the dopamine rush you get from exercising is comparable to the euphoric sense you get from drinking, so this type of brain activity can reduce the intensity of your cravings.
Another way to focus your thoughts and resist the cravings you experience is to engage in various methods of relaxation. Yoga is one suggestion that combines relaxation and physical exercise through the use of strenuous poses. As you begin, you can start with easier poses and work your way up to more challenging poses. Some people prefer sticking with the easier poses because that makes it easier for them to meditate during yoga. Meditation can also be done separately. It’s often recommended to recovering addicts because it helps them gain better control over their thoughts. It can be done anytime and in most situations, which makes it a useful way of dealing with triggers. You can also try deep breathing exercises if you’re pressed for time or don’t have a good place to meditate for five or 10 minutes. Spending just a minute or two practicing deep breathing can give you a quick sense of calm, so you won’t feel that strong urge to drink.
Socializing is a Key Coping Mechanism
Recovering alcoholics aren’t any different from the average person in that socialization is essential to their mental health. It can also be effective in helping to prevent, control, and resist cravings to use. The most obvious benefit of socializing with sober friends is that you’ll be too busy engaging in activities with your friends to get away to use. However, the benefits are a little more complex in that your relationships can keep you from thinking about your cravings at all. As you engage in conversation with others, you’ll experience a full range of emotions that will distract you from any cravings you might be experiencing. Additionally, the release of your feelings as you discuss problems and concerns with your friends will alleviate stress, which is an internal trigger for cravings. When people socialize with others, they generally feel happier, and that means they’re less inclined to engage in self-destructive behavior.
Friends will also try to include you in group activities that require a sober mind, such as team sports and similar activities. You may also be invited to attend events that your friends are interested in attending. Some of these activities may include boating, picnics, attending conventions, or going to amusement parks to name a few common group activities. Even when you’re invited to go someplace where alcohol is being served, sticking with your sober friends will help you resist the cravings you might otherwise feel. Instead of giving into your cravings, you’ll be more focused on having fun with your friends. If you socialize with friends who are spiritual, consider going to mass or other services with them. This can be helpful in giving you more resources for your continued sobriety. In addition to nurturing your need for a spiritual connection, becoming a part of a religious congregation will help you meet others who are willing to help you resist cravings. For example, if you feel a particularly strong craving, talk with a spiritual leader in your community. Many spiritual leaders are experienced in talking with recovering addicts, so this can help you cope with a craving without relapsing.
If you are struggling with alcoholism, call us at 833-364-0736. Our counselors are available to talk to you about recovery seven days a week, 24 hours a day. We can answer all of your questions and help you get started on a path to sober living.