The Urge to Drink has Returned. Now What?

Cravings and Urges are a Process in Recovery

When you are a recovering addict, whether you were addicted to drugs or alcohol, relapsing is always something that you want to refrain from happening. Part of recovery will be urges and cravings to take drugs or have a drink; this is simply the nature of addiction and recovery. In early recovery, cravings are especially prominent and individuals are in their most vulnerable state at this time.

There is hope, though, as cravings do not always lead to relapse. Learning how to cope and manage your cravings will help you overcome the temptation to drink when the craving is there.

What is an Alcohol Craving?

When you experience a craving, you are experiencing an intense and overwhelming desire to have a drink. Some common thoughts while having a craving are:

  • “If only I could…”
  • Just one sip…”
  • “It would be so nice if I could…”

Oftentimes, especially for those who are new in their recovery journey, will dream about their vice which can be alarming when you have woken up. An alcohol craving is mental and physical as individuals experience both a psychological desire to have a drink and they are also physically envisioning themselves holding a drink up to their mouths and consuming it.

When alcoholics drink, they continuously keep their alcohol levels in their blood high so that they do not experience withdrawal symptoms. What this also does is engage the craving that you have; this is how alcohol addiction is so vicious.

You know if you are addicted to alcohol because you experience withdrawal symptoms such as the shakes. When you experience these, you will want to do anything to mitigate them. For those with an alcohol problem, it often means continuing to drink.

How to Deal With Cravings

There are a number of strategies and tactics that you can utilize when you are experiencing a craving or urge to drink.

  1. Avoid Triggers: Avoid triggers that may lead you to relapse. This could mean avoiding certain friends, places, or activities.
  2. Practicing saying ‘no’: Rehearse the word ‘no’ repeatedly and imagine yourself in scenarios where you will have to say ‘no. This will make it easier to say when the time comes where you have to say ‘no’ to an offered drink.
  3. Get a hobby: A key part of a successful recovery is getting hobbies. This will keep you distracted so that you do not get bored and begin to think about having a drink.

By considering these helpful tips, you can lessen your chances of relapse when you find yourself in risky situations.

Learn to Manage Triggers

There are several ways in which you can manage triggers when they arise.

  • Speak about it: By speaking with someone that you trust such as a therapist, counselor, or loved one can help you get the support you need in order to ensure cravings.
  • Respond rationally: It’s important that you do not respond without thought as this is simply an automatic response. You must assess the situation at hand an be aware of them in order to properly overcome them.
  • Ride it out: Cravings and urges will come and go and you may even endure them for years to come. The best thing to do is implement coping strategies and ride it out. The urge will dissipate in time but you must be patient and not give in to the addiction.
  • Use flashcards: If you plan on going out and fear that you may come in contact with a trigger, consider carrying around a few flashcards. These flashcards should have positive affirmations and words of encouragement on them.

It’s important that you do everything possible to manage your cravings when they occur. This way you are being diligent in maintaining your sobriety.

Sources:

https://www.rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/Tools/Interactive-worksheets-and-more/Stay-in-control/Coping-With-Urges-To-Drink.aspx

http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/alcohol-use-and-abuse-what-you-should-know

If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.