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Cravings…What do They Mean and How can I Prevent Them?

Cravings are a part of recovery. They happen. They don’t mean you are going to relapse and they don’t say you are doing anything wrong in your recovery. They are a natural part of recovery, but there are ways to minimize the effects of cravings on your mind and your body.

The holidays are exciting and filled with festivities, family and friends, and celebration. They can also cause increased anxiety and elevated stress levels. We can also be more susceptible to cravings when we’re under additional stress. The time following the holidays is a time when we sometimes let our guard down. Our minds do a mental “big sigh” as we feel the release of pent-up tension as we realize the hectic season is over and the pressures subside. Along with the holiday craziness, the distraction of the holidays also passes. This may leave us with extra time, no family obligations, and less responsibility than in the past few weeks.

Cravings will continue to pop up throughout your recovery, so it is critical we understand them and have a plan to deal with them. Whether in a holiday season that may offer temptations to use or in the lull which follows, cravings can be debilitating if you don’t address them promptly.

Cravings can be separated into two categories: physical and psychological. As the name implies, a physical craving has a real, tangible effect on your body. The craving may present as a strong desire to drink or use drugs. You may experience cold sweats, muscle tremors, increased anxiety, or other physical symptoms. The good news here is that research says a physical craving passes in less than ten minutes. When you feel a craving begin, take a moment to acknowledge your thoughts and feelings and become ultra aware of the moment. Be mindful of your surroundings and allow your senses to become heightened. Remember, it is only ten minutes! Stay strong and feel the satisfaction within you as the craving dissipates.

Psychological cravings affect your mind and emotions. Many times it is a response to a former habit. For instance, you may feel the urge to use when in familiar circumstances where you used to use drugs or drink. This is often just an old habit nagging at you to participate again. For these cravings, distraction is highly effective. Change the scenery, give your attention to something different, and take your mind off the current situation. Use exercise as a distraction when possible. Taking your mind of off the craving will allow you to move on as quickly as possible.

Cravings affect everyone in recovery to some degree. You are not alone! If you are dealing with addiction, call Villa Tranquil at 214-799-3080 to get the support you need today.