First of all, recognize that cravings don’t equate to weakness. Substance abuse changes the way neurons trigger in your brain, and once someone becomes reliant upon drugs or alcohol, their brain is chemically wired to want more. It doesn’t mean they want to return to their substance, but that their body is in a state of withdrawal that comes with unpleasant symptoms.
Cravings can be either physical or mental. Physical cravings often come in the form of shaking, sweating or aching muscles. Mental cravings manifest as an intense desire to want drugs or alcohol and a perceived inability to think about anything else.
Almost any form of exercise will help you get through about of cravings. Walking tops the list. There are so many benefits of walking, including physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual effects. If you are not physically able to walk, getting out in the fresh air can help reduce cravings and lift your mood. Getting outside and taking in some of the worlds around you, with no particular purpose other than to feel better, really works. The gentle, bilateral stimulation of walking is great for calming down an agitated mind. For some people, talking about how they feel when they are having cravings can help them feel more in control. It’s great to have a companion when you’re quitting or coming down from substance abuse. If you do, this is a good time to let them know how you feel. Tell them they don’t have to say anything, that it would help just to have them listen to you. Once you’ve pinpointed what the triggers are, make a game plan for avoiding them in your life. It may mean moving to a new area, cutting yourself off from certain people or avoiding particular parties or events, but stepping away from these reminders will help you to defuse drug and alcohol cravings and avoid relapse.
Cravings can feel overwhelming, but in a short time, they pass. Learn to “ride the wave,” and practice these approaches to coping, and you will become more confident in your recovery.