A word of caution: Sometimes just reading this type of information can trigger a craving so get yourself prepared just in case it happens to you.
Some info about cravings
Cravings for alcohol and drugs are caused by psychological and physical factors.
Being exposed to things that you've associated with substance use can cause a little squirt of dopamine to be released in anticipation of the using something and the brain WANTS MORE. This is why it's hard to get the idea of using a substance out of your mind for the first few minutes of a craving.
Cravings can be triggered by lots of different things.
People, places, objects, feelings, situations, smells, sounds, thoughts and anything else that reminds you of using alcohol or drugs can trigger a craving. Even dreams about using can trigger cravings. These dreams are common in the early stages of stopping.
Cravings can continue long after stopping alcohol or drugs.
A craving is like an ocean wave...
It starts off small, gathers momentum, peaks, and then breaks. The peak intensity of a craving rarely lasts beyond a few minutes. The trick is to ride out the peak until it passes.
Cravings will only lose their power if you DON'T GIVE IN TO THEM.
Even having alcohol or drugs occasionally keeps cravings alive.
The good news is there are ways to manage your cravings...
Tips for managing cravings
Try urge surfing.
Cravings, just like an ocean wave, do break.
Visualise yourself surfing the crest of the craving wave, you'll feel it build, peak, subside, and finally break.
Don't like the ocean? Ok, imagine a craving as one loop on a roller coaster or ferris wheel.
Try the 3 D's...
Delay - This feeling will pass... I can handle this..." Delaying your decision, and supportive self-talk will help you to break the habit of reaching immediately for alcohol or drugs whenever a craving hits.
Distract - Once you've delayed your decision, Distract yourself from thoughts about meth. Go for a walk or run, have a shower, call a support person, listen to music, just do whatever it takes to get you through the peak. It should only last for a few minutes...remember to make a note of what works for you and do it again and again. Eventually your mind will associate the new activity with pleasure and a new, healthy habit is born!
Decide - After the craving's passed, remind yourself why you wanted to stop using alcohol or drugs in the first place. Re-read your reminder card if you made one. Now DECIDE to stay stopped (or cut down). Know that the next craving will be easier to manage because you didn't give in to it this time. Every time you get through it without using, your confidence will increase and you can challenge any catastrophic thoughts you may have had about your ability to be stronger than your cravings.
You could also try some relaxation techniques to manage your cravings – Learn more.