When I first quit drinking I knew that I would need something to fill all the time I had previously spent drinking. So I made a plan to keep myself occupied. I taught myself how to crochet. I read many, many books on alcohol recovery. I also went to meetings and took some time to look after myself.
However, just as things may seem to be getting better, cravings can sneak up from nowhere and hit you when you least expect it. In fact, I often found in my early sobriety that it was the unexpected situations that were more difficult to deal with than the predictable ones. It wasn’t so much the after-work drinks or the hard days in the office that were hard to manage, but the times when I was enjoying just pottering round my house doing normal household tasks, or the days or weeks after a supposedly “difficult situation” like a wedding or a big party. Sometimes, at the end of a particularly challenging time in which you remained strong and vigilant, it’s easy to relax your guard and leave yourself vulnerable.
So what do you do when you find the urges to drink overwhelming? It’s always a good idea to have a plan. To get your ideas started, here are some things that I have found helpful when the urge to drink hits.
1. Distract yourself.
Find an absorbing activity you enjoy that will take you out of yourself and get your mind off the cravings. The desire to drink or use won’t last forever, so try to just find an activity to occupy you until it passes over.
2. Go to a meeting.
3. Speak to a friend in recovery.
If no meeting is available, arranging to meet or talk on the phone with a trusted friend who knows what you are going through can make a crucial difference when you are struggling.
4. Take a hot bath.
For me, a lovely hot bath filled with bubbles can ease the stress and take my mind to a much calmer place when the cravings are strong. If baths aren’t your thing perhaps you can find another relaxing and soothing activity that you could do.
The benefits of physical activity are numerous, but it can be especially good when you feel the urge come over you. Exercise releases pent up tension, generates the “feel good” chemicals that help lift your mood and leads you down a more positive path than giving into your cravings.
As with any difficult feeling or emotion, meditation can help distance you from the cravings and help you see them for what they are: a transitory feeling that you don’t have to act on.
These are just some of the things you can do to help you get through your cravings. For those who are determined to keep their sobriety, you have to find ways to manage these urges and maintain equilibrium even when the going gets tough.