Intense cravings are, perhaps, the most defining characteristic of substance use disorders. Cravings remain after the initial medical detox period and may persist in lesser forms for the rest of a recovering individual’s life.
However, many people do get rid of cravings completely and most recovering individuals can manage cravings to the extent that they are no longer a significant issue. Drug and alcohol rehab centers in Boston have had decades of success helping thousands of people achieve a full recovery.
While it’s disputed what exactly causes cravings, today it’s generally agreed that they are related to the corrupted brain pathways caused by drug and alcohol use. Most strategies found to be beneficial for controlling cravings tend to either buy time for cravings to subside or help the brain grow new connections to bypass the defective ones created by substance misuse.
Thankfully, given time, cravings can be controlled or even cured Below are some ideas you can use to help control your urges to engage in self-destructive behaviors.
1.) Get professional help
Cravings related to substance use disorders are so powerful, the vast majority of people are unable to kick their drug or alcohol habits by themselves. This makes it incredibly important for anyone who has a problem to seek help immediately.
Seeking professional help does a few things. First, the very act of talking to someone about your problem can help blunt the intensity of your cravings, especially if your substance use trigger is related to loneliness or boredom. Second, talking to an expert gives you access to advice and resources that are proven to be effective for taming cravings in your specific situation. Lastly, talking it out can give you some clarity about your situation, which can help you make the right decisions later on.
2.) Take time to meditate every day
Meditation has gone from being a relatively fringe idea in psychiatry to a mainstream healthcare practice with about a dozen of proven benefits for people with mental health issues.
For the simplicity of explanation, meditation is any kind of focused, purposeful contemplative practice, including prayer, mindfulness, transcendental meditation, and so on.
This added focus makes meditation different from simply being in a quiet space doing nothing. If you’ve never meditated before, you might just be surprised at how tough it is.
Focused meditation of any kind for 10-20 minutes a day can help emotional regulation, which is essential for controlling cravings. It also helps with depression and anxiety symptoms, both of which are often associated with substance misuse.
There is also evidence that regular meditation speeds up the creation of new connections in the brain, and possibly the regeneration of brain matter, which can be essential in achieving a full recovery from substance use disorder.
Meditation can also greatly help with self-awareness. This makes it a valuable supplement to other mainstream therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy. Some types of therapy such as dialectical behavior therapy even rely on meditation to help recovering individuals become stable enough to receive other psychiatric interventions.
3.) Include exercise in your daily schedule
Exercise is one of the oldest known interventions for controlling residual cravings. It’s so effective that virtually all residential rehab programs, regardless of the approach, will include daily exercise as part of the curriculum.
As with meditation, regular exercise can help reduce depression and anxiety symptoms, which can often help resolve cravings or bring them under control. It can also induce a natural high that gives you an alternative to the ones associated with substance misuse. Exercise can also help improve sleep patterns, which can help relieve cravings for people who previously relied on depressants for inducing sleep. Exercise can also help build confidence and help with self-image issues that are sometimes associated with stimulant misuse.
4.) Keep a regular journal
Gains in reducing cravings can often be slow and incremental, which makes it difficult for recovering individuals to conceptualize just how far they’re progressed. Keeping a regular journal can help you to better process and understand just how far you’ve come in controlling your urges. It can also help you better express complex or conflicting emotions that you may have about your recovery. All the information you record can also come in handy when you visit your therapist or if you change mental health care providers.
Get help for cravings today
While they can sometimes be extremely difficult to manage, cravings are, fortunately, controllable in the vast majority of cases. The key is to find the help you need and to build routines that facilitate a steady but sustainable recovery.
Boston Drug Treatment Centers give you a wide selection of resources for helping you better understand and address your cravings. Our expert team can put you in touch with some of the best addiction treatment specialists and programs in New England and beyond. Find the help you need today.