Early Sobriety: 5 Tips for Handling Cravings

Early Sobriety: 5 Tips for Handling Cravings

When you are feeling like you want a drink or a fix, a workout at the gym or even a brisk 30-minute walk can help handle the craving

As you start your treatment, please know at some point you will be tempted to slide back into old habits. This is an unavoidable part of the recovery process. The key is to know how to handle cravings and what you should do when they occur. It is essential to develop a strategy beforehand—not when you are triggered to use—so you know what to do when a craving hits.

  1. Get Some Physical Exercise

When you are feeling like you want a drink or a fix, a workout at the gym or even a brisk 30-minute walk can help handle the craving. This is because physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals such as dopamine, which leave you feeling happier and more relaxed. When you exercise, the brain chemical dopamine is released which, as explained in Psychology Today, connects directly with your reward system. This is the same rush you get from drinking, but without the effects that are bad for your health. Why not participate in some activities you have always wanted to try? Take a yoga class, go hiking or even run a 5K. Find a physical activity you enjoy. If you are not sure whether you will enjoy something or not, just try it. If you decide that you do not enjoy the activity, go do something else. Do not allow fear to stop you from trying something new.

One of the great benefits from exercise is that over time you will feel better about your appearance. This also leads to a confidence boost and helps improve your self-esteem. The more you work out, the better you will feel. Once you really start to see the results, you will find that you establish good habits. These benefits lead to not having as many cravings to use again.

  1. Get Help from Your Support Network

There are many places you can develop a support network. You can go to your family. If you do not have a good relationship with your family at this moment due to your addiction, you can always go to one of your close friends. Be sure to contact a friend who is sober as well, so he or she can support you in pursuit of a sober life. Do not overlook your doctor or therapist. If you don’t have a doctor or therapist at this point, it is essential to find one. This could be the perfect time to go to an Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meeting. If you feel intimidated by this process, get someone you know to go with you to an open meeting. If you have already been attending AA meetings, call your sponsor and get together with him or her to talk.

Be sure to minimize the amount of time you spend alone so you do not put yourself into any risky situations. Your self-control is not an unlimited resource; each time you are tempted, your mental energy supply goes down. If you are not sure who to turn to or do not have a support network in place yet, feel free to call our helpline. Our counselors are ready to encourage and support you in your recovery.

  1. Embrace Your Creativity

Whether you know it or not, you are creative. There are many ways you can use your creativity to help handle cravings. First, you could write down your negative feelings or express how you feel. You can do this through journaling, poetry or just writing down random thoughts and feelings. Don’t feel like writing? You could try your hand at painting or even music. Your options are limitless! Each outlet is a great way to turn your thoughts into words and then to express them.

  1. Get Together with Friends or Family

Socializing with sober friends and family who support your recovery can be a great way to overcome triggers and cravings. You can even combine this with your exercise time. So next time you work out, get together with a friend to go for a bike ride in the park or play some softball. Maybe you would like to have a picnic with some family members. Invite them over to your place and prepare your picnic basket together. You could even take a cooking class with a friend. Do not make this more complicated than it needs to be. Tell your friend that you need support and you just want to spend time with them; your support network is there for you, so use it.

  1. Take a Nap

If you are hungry, angry, lonely or tired you are not thinking clearly. A nap can easily solve part of the problem. When you wake up refreshed, you will likely have a much better attitude and be able to make better decisions. Just be careful not to avoid life by sleeping too much—which can be a sign of depression. Thankfully, exercise and spending time with others who have good attitudes are known to help you feel better.

Remember to make a specific, easy-to-follow plan for what you will do when you are tempted. Do not come up with a plan when you are staring temptation in the face. Instead, be proactive and know whom you will call. Also know whom you will contact if your primary contact is unavailable. Face to face interaction is always best, so make this a priority. Text messages are not personal enough. You will need direct communication with someone you trust.

Find Recovery Help Today

If you have any questions about cravings or if you need support, please call our toll-free helpline and talk to one of our counselors. They are available 24 hours a day to listen carefully to your questions and provide guidance to help you right now in your recovery.