Combating Cravings in Early Sobriety

It is normal for those in early recovery to experience cravings for their substance of choice, as your mind and body are still adjusting to the new normal of sobriety. Cravings can be quite powerful, and if we do not prepare ourselves to meet them head on they can pose a significant threat to our recovery and pull us back down into the pit of our addiction. Here are some proactive measures you can take to arm yourself against these powerful urges so you can remain safe in your sobriety.

First, you should accept that cravings will occur in your life during the first few months of your recovery, as to deny this reality would only leave you vulnerable to these cravings. Once you acknowledge the likelihood of your experiencing cravings in early recovery, you can set up barriers between yourself and acting upon them. One excellent habit you should get into is active communication, both with your higher power and with your sober supports. Any time you are feeling something negative, whether it be anxiety, depression, guilt, or shame, your instinct should be to reach out to your God and to your sponsor. These sources of inspiration and guidance can help you process these negative emotions and then move past them, rather than allowing yourself to get mired down in them. The same is true of cravings - reaching out for help to process and move past your craving should become instinctive, rather than dwelling on the craving which only increases the likelihood of your acting on it and relapsing.

Cravings are often triggered by memories of our active addiction. These memories are experienced more intensely when prompted by an external stimulus, whether that be the smell of alcohol, a noise you associate with using, or even visiting a neighborhood where you used to purchase or use drugs. The best defense is a good offense, and this applies here in your proactively avoiding these sorts of stimuli so you avoid triggering any cravings in the first place. This is usually accomplished with ease, as we are reinventing our lives in recovery and have no reason to revisit the old haunts of our days in active substance abuse. This is one more reason why many people opt to attend substance abuse treatment in a new and unfamiliar locale, further distancing themselves from the people, places, and things of their active addiction.

Cravings are a natural part of recovery for addicts and alcoholics, as our bodies and our psyches take time to recalibrate now that we have transitioned from active substance abuse to sobriety. While you cannot completely eliminate cravings from your life, there are steps you can take to both minimize their occurrence and mitigate the impact they have on your thoughts and decision making. Above all else, a strong connection to a program of recovery and a God of your understanding are key to resisting any urge to use. So long as you work diligently to maintain these connections, you will be safe in sobriety and will continue to grow in your recovery program and in your life as a whole!