Back to Articles

What are cravings and how can I handle them so I don’t use?

Craving may be defined by someone addicted as an “urge”, “need” or “strong desire to use” an abusable substance. These can be psychological, physical, or both in nature. Although they feel overpowering, they usually last only a few minutes at a time, and a person can choose not to act on this urge.

1) Think past the high, to the immediate and longer term negative consequences of use. Think of the positive reasons not to use. 2) Leave or change the situation. Remove yourself from the people, places, and things which are situational triggers. Then distract yourself with pleasant activities and thoughts. 3) Get help. Reach out to someone in your support system, recovery or treatment group, in person, on the phone, or by email. 4) Never, ever, ever give up. Cravings are always temporary, and nothing in your current life will be solved by relapsing to use. Think of all the reasons to stay clean and sober.
5) Delay or postpone your decision to use. It is always a choice, but you could delay it for five minutes, and you could wait for the crest of the urge or craving wave to subside.

Although these tactics emphasize the psychosocial ways to deal with cravings, sometimes medications are required to aid a person just entering recovery, or one dealing with dual diagnosis challenges. These medications do not replace good treatment and the cognitive skills listed above; they allow the use of them on a more predictable basis and with better outcomes. There are combinations of medications prescribed by physicians who are specially trained in addiction. To understand the neurobiology of this, watch the relevant WYNK flash videos.

by: Lois Cochrane Schlutter, Ph.D. L.P.

This article is ©, it may be copied in it's entirety and used only by not for profit and for educational purposes.