While in recovery, it is natural to experience cravings. You may have a desire to use again at random moments. This is part of the recovery process. Substance use disorder is a physiologic illness where your body feels compelled to give in to cravings. So understand that it’s the illness talking. These cravings can come on strong, so it is important to share that you are struggling with them with other people in your support network. While in sobriety, you have learned new coping mechanisms that you can lean on.
Understand It’s the Illness Talking
Substance Use Disorder is a mental health diagnosis. It has both a genetic and environmental basis. Some families struggle with addiction more than others. This has to do with inherited craving patterns as well as the availability of the substance in your environment.
You may also be struggling with a co-occurring mental health disorder. Perhaps you feel anxious or depressed on top of your cravings. It is important to acknowledge those underlying emotional symptoms because they can contribute to your desire to abuse substances. Mental illness is very common because life is stressful. It is not the fault of the individual who is experiencing anxiety or depression, but rather a byproduct of what they are experiencing in their environment.
If you are stressed and feel the need to use your substance of choice to take the edge off, consider where the craving is coming from. It’s likely your mental illness doing the talking. Deciding to ignore that voice to use is not always an easy decision to make on your own.
Share with Others That You Are Struggling
If you are experiencing intense cravings, it is important to share that experience with your support network. Friends and family who know you are in recovery want to make sure you feel loved and cared for as you navigate all the ups and downs of sober living. The people who have seen you through your hardships are there to protect you from future pain. They can help you resist urges and put you in better situations where you are less likely to relapse. Do not be afraid to ask for help again and again. Admitting your weakness can be one of your biggest strengths.
Lean On Your Newly Developed Coping Mechanisms
While in recovery, you have probably learned some coping mechanisms to fend off cravings to tend to your individual needs.
- Do you have medications you take that help you resist the urge to relapse?
- Do you meet with a therapist to explain your struggle and get emotional support?
- Have you developed skills to soothe yourself when you are feeling restless?
The answers to these questions will help guide you away from substance use and to other, healthier alternatives.
As a sober individual, you will always be teetering between the idea of approaching your substance of choice and the idea of avoiding it. At times you may feel indifferent about approaching or ambivalent about avoiding. Acknowledging where you fall on that continuum can serve as the turning point in seeking care.
Acknowledge Where You Are At
Draw a line between two points. One point represents you and the other point represents the substance or substances you have used in the past. Then, you can draw some arrows that are bringing you closer to using. For example, you may miss the relief. On the other hand, you can draw arrows that represent what is preventing you from abusing substances. At the end, which arrows matter most to you? This is a helpful exercise to see where you stand compared to your prior use.
Me → desire to use desire to avoid ← Substance
If you are not satisfied with your line, you may want to seek additional support.
Seek Additional Support if Needed
You can always resume health care services to help fend off your cravings. Substance Use Disorder is a chronic condition that will wax and wane throughout your lifetime. If you feel a lot of cravings coming on that you have difficulty fending off on your own, you can ask for professional help. There are resources and frameworks available to assist you. You are not alone in this struggle.
Depending on your level of need, you can find an outpatient service or an inpatient service. You can also add new coping skills to your repertoire depending on your phase in life. Perhaps you are limited in your ability to use certain skills to cope during the quarantine. You may have to modify your approach. Companies and therapy groups are adapting their practices to accommodate the need for virtual support.
One of your options for learning recovery techniques is Valiant Living. At our men-only facility in Denver, Colorado, we can help you fend off cravings. We treat addiction and co-occurring mental illness through the use of a multidisciplinary team and dynamic facility that meets your changing needs. We can help you understand when your genetically-based mental illness is taking hold, acknowledge where you’re at, develop new coping mechanisms, and provide additional support. Our expert staff will walk you through every step of the process. Our goal is to prioritize you and your unique needs as a client. Whether you are just starting in recovery or have experienced a relapse, we are here to support you. Fending off cravings is hard work. It is easier when you have a team of people to support you. To learn more about our services, you can reach out to us today at (303) 952-5035.