Once you have decided to get on the road to recovery, you have to be prepared to deal with your cravings. Before, it was so easy to succumb to these cravings but now, you have to make a commitment to abstain from your addictions.
One thing to note though is that being in recovery does not make you impervious to these cravings. These cravings are normal and they can be pretty intense in the outset of recovery. Many experts say, and others in recovery can also attest, that as time passes, the cravings eventually decrease in strength and frequency as it becomes less and less automatic to succumb to them.
The more we learn to say no to these cravings and urges, the more we succeed in the enduring challenges of recovery.
To help you, just remember this: DEADS.
DEADS stands for various approaches to resisting urges and cravings*:
D = Delay. The mental activities of cravings and urges disappear over time unless you actively maintain them with your attention. Given time, they will run their course and disappear. If they aren’t gone in 10-15 minutes, then chances are you are still exposed to the stimulus that cued the urge in the first place. Just don’t give in no matter how bad the urge is and it will pass. All the urges you have ever had have passed. Once you have denied an urge, you know you can do it again and again. And after a short time, there will be fewer cravings and the ones you have will diminish in intensity. Waiting them out is a great step to recovery.
E = Escape. Just leave or get away from the urge provoking situation. Run away from it. Leave the pub so that you can stop staring at the beer taps. Leave the supermarket where all the bottles of wine are so nicely displayed. If there’s an alcohol ad on TV, switch the channel. Just the act of escaping the trigger will focus your mind on something new – which will quickly lessen the urge.
A = Accept. Put your urges and cravings into perspective by understanding that they are normal and will pass. It’s important in the recovery process to learn to accept discomfort. It won’t “kill” you and will be gone pretty quickly. You’ll feel good about what you’re learning and achieving.
D = Dispute. If you’ve worked through the ABC or DISARM exercises, you may have developed a rational “Effective new belief” or counter statement to help you attack your (irrational) urges and cravings. These exercises help you productively diagnose past addictive situations and develop useful tactics for disputing them when they occur again – which will help them pass much more quickly.
S = Substitute. When you get an urge, quickly substitute a thought or activity that’s more beneficial or fun. Take a walk or any other form of exercise. Pick up something new to read or turn on something to listen to. The possibilities to substitute (and lessen the craving more quickly) are endless. Think about and write down some possibilities to have a list on hand when an urge occurs. Then just pick one to employ an effective response.
*by the SMART Recovery Program
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