Cravings are common in early sobriety.
Suddenly, drinking is all you can think about and that little voice in your head whispers, “just one won’t hurt!”
It’s normal to experience cravings. They’re not a sign that you’re weak, flawed or destined for failure. They’re just a sign that you’re changing a habit and you’re feeling it.
I know how tough cravings are to deal with, particularly during the boozy festive season, when there’s so much alcohol around.
So this blog is all about going back to basics. Here are 5 simple strategies for stopping cravings in their tracks:
Listen to the craving
Cravings nearly always have something to tell us – they’re often a sign that something is wrong. We need to address the problem, rather than trying to smother it with booze.
Often, the message cravings have for us is that we’re hungry and thirsty. Seriously – it can be that simple. Having a glass of water and a snack can be a simple fix.
Play the movie to the end
Close your eyes and picture what will really happen if you have ‘just one drink’. How will you feel later tonight or tomorrow morning? Spend two minutes doing this. Be brutally honest.
The fantasy is always that you’ll be able to control your alcohol use this time – but if you could do that, you would’ve figured out how to do so by now. (I explained why moderation rarely works here).
Ask: how will alcohol fix this situation?
Remember, booze doesn’t change things. Whatever you’re drinking to escape will still be there when you sober up (only it’ll be even harder to cope with because you’re hungover).
People always talk about alcohol being ‘relaxing’ and ‘a great stress buster’. But I’ve yet to meet anyone who feels calm and stress free the morning after drinking too much.
Change your surroundings
Get outside and go for a walk. You could run off your cravings, or swim away from them, or sweat them out in hot yoga. Even something simple like a hot bath or shower helps.
Cravings are often a sign that we need a break and some headspace. Forcing yourself to change your surroundings can help satisfy this need.
If all else fails, strike a deal
Agree that you’ll reconsider the situation – tomorrow morning. Deciding to drink again is a big deal, so you’ll want to sleep on it first. You’re simply postponing the decision.
It’s unlikely you’ll wake up in the morning and think “I should’ve drunk last night!” But if you do, well – you know what to do! At least you’ll be making that decision in the cold light of day.
Bonus tip: don’t forget to do the deep work
Consider the tips above as emergency first aid. They’ll help you get out of a craving when you’re in one – but for long term, happy sobriety you really do need more of a strategy.
Focus on building a solid sober foundation for yourself. This means educating yourself about alcohol and addiction, learning new coping mechanisms and tackling the root causes behind your drinking.
(This is the kind of work we do in my stop drinking course, Getting Unstuck)
Let me know…
How do you deal with cravings? If there’s something that helps you stay on track during difficult times, I’m sure other people would love to hear about it. Leave a comment below!