Staying Safe Even When You’re Tempted to Engaged in Addictive Behavior

by Neseret on May 19, 2015

Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it. ~ Helen Keller ~

You’ve just made a decision to stop engaging in addictive behavior.

It maybe for the first time or the 7th.

It doesn’t really matter.

Congratulations!

The fact you recognize you have a problem and you’re willing to address it is more than half of the battle. It takes great courage and humility to recognize we have a problem and to be willing to do something about it.

And it takes a certain amount of determination, tenacity, and resilience to keep getting up every time you’ve gotten off track and to be willing to try again!

As the saying goes, never, ever give up!

Right now, I hope you give yourself lots of credit for choosing to commit or recommit to stop engaging in your particular addiction.

What you may have already discovered is your choice to stop engaging in your addiction doesn’t take away the impulse/desire engage in old patterns.

Old habits indeed, die hard.

Most people in recovery will experience cravings. Depending on the length and depth of your addiction, you have likely developed deep physical and or psychological dependence. You’ve become dependent on your addiction to cope and to survive.

In the beginning, when you are at your most vulnerable stage, you will likely experience the most amount of cravings. However, for some people cravings never go away.

What are cravings?

Cravings are the internal impulse or desire to engage in old behavior and or patterns. It means the desire to use, abuse, consume, or engage in mood altering, destructive substances or activities.

Yet, cravings are normal!

You are going to be tempted to use or abuse or consume or engage in your drug of choice.

You are going to be tempted to numb, avoid, cover, or release the pent up pain.

Underneath addiction is often stress, and pain combined with the lack of healthy coping skills.

The good news is you can learn to cope safely.

You can learn to experience cravings without giving in to them. In other words, you can experience temptations without being sucked in to them. Right now you may not be so confident about that and that’s understandable.

You’re likely feeling fearful or completely overwhelmed about the task of overcoming your addiction.

At this point you maybe in the process of just getting started. You’re starting to learn new and healthy coping skills. You’re in the process of getting education and support.

Wherever you are is o.k.

You’re not alone in this! And I’m going to share with you some ideas to help you maintain your safety and sobriety.

Relax and take a deep breath…

O.k let’s get started!

So, how exactly do you deal with intense cravings?

The first step is to recognize and notice your cravings.

That’s it!

When you first notice you’re experiencing a craving, don’t panic! Instead become like a curious investigator. Reassure yourself this is all part of the process.

Repeat to self: Cravings are normal and I don’t have to give in to them.

Next, become aware of the thought pattern and or conversation in your head when the cravings start. Ideally even before the craving starts. As well notice what emotions are present? This is going to take some practice!

Now, look at exactly what’s going on during your craving?

What triggered your craving?

Is it Stress? Boredom? Loneliness? Hunger? Pain?

You do not have to do anything but notice.

You may want to write the answers to the above questions in a journal. This in itself may interrupt your pattern. The core of addiction is unconscious reaction. It is being in automatic mode and doing things out of pure habit as supposed to making a conscious decision/choice.

Your next step is to ask:

What is it that I need to do right now to cope safely?

What legitimate needs do I have right now that needs to be met? And how can I meet it in a healthy way? Ie: are you hungry, tried, sad, lonely? How can you nurture yourself right now?

Who can I reach out to for support? Ie: counselor, trusted friend, sponsor etc.

Ultimately learning to cope with cravings means making the commitment to cope safely no matter what!

It is being willing to look within for answers instead of taking something from the outside to make us feel o.k.

It is the willingness to be present and notice our thoughts, feelings, actions, and reactions. It is to accept whatever is going on without trying to alter it.

Your task in working with your cravings is to befriend the craving but not give in to it. It is to look underneath the craving and find the unmet need. Then to give to yourself in a healthy way. To love and nurture yourself as you would a beloved child or friend.

You can look at your craving as your teacher. It’s there to show you something. When it comes up it is presenting you with an opportunity to choose differently. And every time you choose differently, meaning coping safely, it becomes easier to do the same next time.

Please take time to share your thoughts, questions, and comments below.

Peace, Love & Gratitude

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