Having a craving to use drugs or alcohol can be utterly and completely consuming. I know because I’ve been there. I’ve spent many minutes, hours, days, weeks, months craving nothing but substances. When I didn’t have any, I couldn’t think about anything else like taking care of myself or anyone else, going to work, school or anywhere really. Just completely overcome with anxiety and stress about how I’m going to get/use a substance. I also spent a decent amount of times in early recovery having some serious cravings to use. Eight years later, I honestly can’t even remember the last time I had a craving to use. But I do remember how horrible it felt when I did have cravings, so I’m here to share some tips with you because I want to help you. I don’t even know you and I care about you and don’t want you to be feeling bad, so here are some things that have helped me along the way.
Sitting or lying down somewhere and focusing on your breath can help ground you and slow down your heartrate a little bit. For me, this slows down my anxiety and helps me start to piece my thinking together better. Counting breaths can help too, like this…breathe in 1, breathe out 2, breathe in 3, breathe out 4, and so on. When I do this, I like to breathe in through my nose and out through my mouth. Doing that helps it make it a little more obvious what I’m trying to practice, and it also helps get more oxygen into your body.
Making ‘Surrender’ Statements
Alright, bear with me here. I know the headline sounds strange. I call it ‘statements of surrender’, some people call it prayer. In early recovery I had a really hard time with the word’s ‘prayer’ and ‘God’, but what I’ve come to learn over the years is that it’s more just about surrender and asking for help. When I first entered recovery, people would tell me to pray and I didn’t really know what that meant for me or what I was supposed to say so I just said, “please give me the strength, courage and willingness to stay clean today.” That simple statement got me through SO MANY difficult times and drug cravings. I would repeat it in my head over and over and over again for as long as I had to until the feelings passed. If writing helps you, write down your ‘surrender’ statement in a notebook, repetitively if you have to.
This is a big one. Seriously. Reach out. Call, visit, text, video message, instant message, Snap Chat message, I don’t care how you do it just reach out. Contact someone that you think has your best intentions at heart or someone that you know that has struggled with something similar to what you’re going through. Getting your thoughts and feelings out there help them not to fester inside of you. The sponsor that I had in early recovery told me that it didn’t matter what I was going through I just had to be honest about it. So that’s what I did, I was honest with her and I got through it. Because of that honesty I was able to push through those challenging moments and stay clean.
Just remember that you are not alone in this, and you are not the only person that has or will ever experience addiction cravings. It is possible to get through them, but you need to try some things that you haven’t tried before or try them in a different way. Finding a way to fight your cravings could mean the difference between life or death.