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Coping with Cravings

After treatment for addiction and while in sober living it is very likely that a recovering person will experience cravings. Although they can be powerful and frightening, the fact is that they are completely normal. It’s been found that people who are recovering from an addiction have experienced chemical changes in the brain. The good news here is that they don’t last forever.

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Utilize Peer Support

One of the best ways to manage cravings is to use the support of those around you. This is one of the reasons going to a sober living in early recovery is so important. Talking about cravings to someone that has experienced the same feelings can be just what many need. Not only does talking about it help get the feelings out of the head, it also helps to enlist support from those around you. While in sober living you will be surrounded by others in recovery who will understand and reinforce positive self-talk. They can also be there to remind you of how bad it was when using drugs and alcohol.

Exercise

Physical activity is something that can be beneficial for almost every aspect of health and cravings are no exception. Exercise releases endorphins in the brain which will help you feel better. It also changes your thinking to focus on the activity rather than the cravings. Besides helping clear cravings, it also boosts mental health overall and allows the brain to start rewiring those circuits that may have been damaged by drug abuse. In just one example, it’s been found that exercise helps ameliorate damage to dopamine and serotonin receptors that is commonly caused by methamphetamine abuse. Due to all the incredible benefits that exercise can give to a recovering drug addict or alcoholic, Open Sky Recovery sober living offers an included fitness class with a certified personal trainer weekly, along with personal training services as needed. It’s just one of the many things offered in our recovery home to help those in recovery.

Analyze It

Another method of coping with cravings is to analyze the thought process surrounding it. Many times a craving can come from feeling upset about something else that happened. This can help to recognize the faulty thought process and kick that craving to the curb. One way to do so is called the ABC method. It can be done quickly and in your head. The best part is that it can be used for anything that’s bothering you!

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A: Identify the activating event. What is causing those cravings or upset feeling?

B: Find the irrational beliefs about it. Where is your thinking wrong?

C: Recognize the consequences of the irrational belief.

D: Dispute the belief. Find the reason that the belief is irrational.

E: Realize an effective new belief or way of thinking to replace B.

Here is an example of how you can use this method quickly and easily:

A: I didn’t get the job I interviewed for.

B: I feel like I am a failure and can’t be successful in recovery because of it.

C: I’m depressed and feel cravings to get high.

D: Who says I NEED that job to be successful in anything, let alone my recovery.

E: I wanted that job but I know that despite needing to find another one, I can stay sober and be successful.

Medication

On top of the coping skills above for dealing with cravings, sometimes medication assisted treatment (MAT) is appropriate to help as well. There are several medications that can be used very effectively to reduce the frequency and strength of cravings. One example is the medication naltrexone, which is available as a daily tablet or a monthly injection under the brand name Vivitrol®. This medication helps with both alcohol and opioid addictions.

While naltrexone isn’t going to be right for everyone, there are many other options and the best way to find what is right for you is to talk to your doctor.

At Open Sky Recovery we allow many forms of MAT at our sober living so long as our clients are under the care of a medical professional to monitor their use and effectiveness.

Contact us today to find out more about our sober living home and to see if it’s the right fit for you or or loved one. Picking a recovery home isn’t an easy decision, and we are here to help you. Give us a call or send us a message on our site for fast and confidential support.

References:

Claire Twark, M. D. (2018, December 26). Can exercise help conquer addiction? Harvard Health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/can-exercise-help-conquer-addiction-2018122615641.

O’dell, S. J., Galvez, B. A., Ball, A. J., & Marshall, J. F. (2011). Running wheel exercise ameliorates methamphetamine-induced damage to dopamine and serotonin terminals. Synapse, 66(1), 71–80. https://doi.org/10.1002/syn.20989

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US). (n.d.). THE NEUROBIOLOGY OF SUBSTANCE USE, MISUSE, AND ADDICTION. Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health [Internet]. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK424849/.

Umhau, J. C. (2019). Conquering the Craving. Journal of Christian Nursing, 36(3), 148–156. https://doi.org/10.1097/cnj.0000000000000624

VIVITROL is a registered trademarks of Alkermes, Inc.