Once you have accepted that you have an addiction and are ready to get help, you must be prepared for a life of sobriety. Taking the next step towards recovery will involve getting drugs or alcohol out of your system, which often requires a programme of detoxification.
Detox can be a difficult process that induces a number of unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. The good news is that if you detox in a professional addiction services facility, the process will be safer and more comfortable. You will have access to constant support, and you may be prescribed medication to help make the process less of an ordeal. Thankfully, most withdrawal symptoms will pass within a few days to a few weeks. However, one symptom you may have to deal with for quite some time is cravings. So what can you do about them?
How Long Do Cravings Last?
The length of time that cravings last will differ from one person to the next. Some people say they never experienced a craving from the time they stopped drinking or taking drugs. Sadly, this is rare, and most will experience cravings at some point. Some people find that the urge to drink or take drugs is very strong in the early days, but that it lessens over time.
In the beginning, cravings can seem relentless, but as each day passes, you may notice that you are thinking less and less about alcohol or drugs until one day you realise that you haven’t thought about drinking or taking drugs for days.
Dealing with Cravings
Cravings can quickly get out of control if you do not deal with them immediately. Strong cravings can make you feel powerless and, the more intense they are, the more you may feel like giving in. Hopefully, you should have learned some tips and techniques for dealing with cravings when these arrive. Nonetheless, what works effectively for one individual may not be so effective for another.
Below we have listed a few tips on what to do when cravings or compulsions strike.
• The moment you feel a craving you need to think carefully about what to do next. One of the most effective methods for dealing with cravings is to call your sponsor or counsellor. Make sure you always have the relevant contact numbers to hand. You should have a long list of people you can call in the event of cravings because even if you cannot reach anyone on your list, you may find that your cravings subside by the time you have called each person. Just the process of calling may be enough to get you through. Hopefully, however, you will get to speak to someone who can talk to you until you no longer feel the urge to drink or take drugs.
• Go to a meeting. If there are no meetings near to you, you should be able to find an online meeting that you can join. Doing this makes it unlikely you give in to your cravings.
• Find something to do. Distracting yourself with something else is a great way to take your mind off the fact that you want alcohol or drugs. It could be something like watching a movie, reading a book, or going for a walk.
• Meditate. Meditation is something you may have learned in rehab, and it is an excellent way to take your mind off the cravings. Practising mindfulness can help you to ‘remove’ yourself from your current situation until your cravings have subsided. It will help you see your cravings for what they are and not act on them.
There are many techniques you can adopt for dealing with cravings, and finding what works for you is important so that you can implement it as soon as you feel a craving coming on.