If you’re reading this, chances are you or your loved one is on the road to recovery, so congratulations!
Thinking about ways to combat cravings and prevent relapse are among the most important steps you can take to maintain a sober lifestyle.
It might feel discouraging to find yourself craving a drug that you’ve worked so hard to get out of your system, but know that cravings are a completely normal and common part of the recovery process.
One of the best things you can do for yourself and your recovery is to be honest about what you’re experiencing, and equip yourself with tools that will help you combat cravings when they come. And while each person has her own unique journey to recovery, there are a number of tactics that anyone can use to better prepare against relapse.
Read this article to learn how you can kick drugs and cravings to the curb for once and for all.
Avoid Triggering and Tempting Situations
A great way to arm yourself against relapsing is to avoid the scenarios in which you used to take drugs and where you suspect drug use will be happening. Steering clear of these scenarios will not only help keep you away from temptation, but it will support a clean and sober lifestyle adjustment going forward, conditioning you to find new ways to have fun and spend free time that doesn’t involve using drugs.
Engage in a Support System
Addiction can be an isolating illness, which is exactly why surrounding yourself with people who support your recovery is such an effective defense against cravings and relapse. Being open with the people you trust about your struggles and challenges will unload some of the weight from your shoulders and cultivate valuable connections and bonding in return. In the same vein, severing ties with people who you used to use drugs with or who currently use will also be helpful when it comes to staying on track.
Stick to a Schedule
Keeping a tight schedule will help reduce the idle time that so often poses challenges to recovery. Doing so ensures that you keep busy and focused on other things besides using. Often cravings arise when people are feeling bored, lonely, or depressed, so staying occupied will help keep you in the present moment and prevent your mind from wandering to potentially unhealthy places.
It’s common for people struggling with addiction to be self-critical and hard on themselves, especially when they feel the urge to use. Know that cravings and relapse in no way mean you’re a failure. They’re a part of the recovery journey. Like any journey, it will come with its trials and triumphs, victories and setbacks, and varied challenges that will take time and continued practice to overcome.
If you find yourself desiring to use again, try to practice self-compassion. Remind yourself that what you’re feeling is a normal part of the recovery process. Frequently, when folks are hard on themselves, they’re more inclined to use to cover up those difficult feelings. Practicing being kind and forgiving to yourself each day will minimize those feelings and support your recovery.
Find a Substitution
When a triggering thought or activity arises, work to make substitutions. If you find you’re experiencing a craving or you’re in a scenario where people are using, remove yourself from the thought or situation by looking for an immediate activity to occupy your body and mind. The activity can be anything from taking a walk to going to a friend’s house to making a phone call. Cravings rise and subside in waves, so if you’re able to ride the initial wave out by occupying yourself with a healthy activity, you’ll greatly increase your chances of overcoming it.