Alcohol cravings are a troublesome and persistent type of symptom for people with alcohol use disorder. Even well after alcohol detox has been completed, people can struggle with cravings on a daily basis. Learning to deal with these cravings is one of the essential tools you can learn in an addiction treatment program.
If you are struggling with cravings and are having a hard time getting and staying sober, reach out to the professionals at The Bluffs by calling 850.374.5331. Our addiction experts can talk you through your addiction treatment options and help you to break free from substance use.
How to Deal with Addiction Cravings
The primary concern of this blog is how to deal with alcohol cravings. However, the same strategies can be used in learning how to deal with drug cravings. Learning how to deal with addiction cravings can even help people control other compulsive or undesired symptoms, such as intrusive thoughts.
The first strategy for learning how to deal with drug cravings is known as urge surfing. Urge surfing is a tool used and taught in relapse prevention programs, mindfulness programs, and even dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). Urge surfing conceptualizes the feeling of drug and alcohol cravings as a wave in the ocean. Like an ocean wave, cravings are powerful but ultimately pass away quickly.
Just like a wave on the ocean, cravings happen in a similar cycle:
- A triggering event occurs
- Intensity ramps up
- Peak intensity occurs
- Intensity falls
By understanding that cravings follow this pattern, you can learn to surf the urge rather than let it crash against you.
First, when you experience a trigger or craving, notice the thought or feeling. Accept that cravings happen as a result of your substance use and recognize that they are transient symptoms. Take a few deep breaths, feel the craving as it occurs, and wait for it to pass away. While simple, urge surfing takes practice, but it can be incredibly beneficial.
Another effective strategy for learning how to deal with alcohol cravings is filling your day with productive and rewarding activities. Finding activities that you enjoy can not only be fulfilling on their own but can also lessen the impact of cravings when they come.
Activities like exercise, yoga, journaling, and reading all release the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine is thought to be the key chemical messenger in the brain associated with craving and reward. Finding a natural and healthy way to release dopamine can dampen the intensity of cravings.
Self-Help and Support Groups
Groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, SMART Recovery, or Women for Sobriety are all dedicated to helping people overcome the challenges of alcohol use disorders. They emphasize meeting together regularly and letting people share their struggles, successes, and progress in their journeys toward recovery.
Attending one of these meetings is a great way to voice your experience of cravings and ask people with similar experiences how they have gotten through such situations. Not only can this help you to deal with cravings, but it can also provide valuable tools and resources for living a fulfilling life in sobriety.
Get Help at The Bluffs
Alcohol use disorders can be incredibly difficult to break free from on your own. Especially during early abstinence, the intensity of cravings can seem impossible to overcome. Fortunately, specialized addiction treatment programs have evidence-based strategies to help people overcome these symptoms and learn the skills required to create lasting recovery.
Call The Bluffs at 850.374.5331 to learn more about our extensive addiction treatment options and how they can help you to break free from addiction.