Coping With Addiction’s Cravings and Temptations

Stopping or scaling back on problem and deeply ingrained behaviours is likely to generate cravings for substances or temptations to spend. The risky situations of your life trigger the craving response and lead to an automatic reliance on your substance or activity of choice. Examples of risky situations would include such things as negative thoughts, stressful events like dinner with your boss or in-laws, coping with difficult people at home or work and upsetting emotions such as anger or boredom. Specific or routine circumstances can ignite a craving response – the phone rings and you immediately reach for your cigarettes or payday prompts a highly predictable trip to the IT store or fashion boutique. Specific environmental signals – sights, sounds or smells, summon pleasant recollections of fun times in a favourite store or restaurant.

These memories become powerful high-risk triggers. What are some of your triggering situations? Learning to deal with cravings and temptations is much easier when you know what brought them on in the first place. The ability to form these associations in the early days of a program of behaviour change is a big step in the direction of lasting transformation. Cravings are felt at different levels of intensity. Some are fleeting, gone in a minute or two – others may be moderate or intense. What’s important to realize is that cravings, whatever their intensity, will pass in a few minutes, if you don’t give in and reward them. Cravings and temptations will decrease in number and strength over time.

Strategies to Cope with Cravings and Temptations

• Make a note of your thoughts and feelings when cravings strike. You’ll begin to see patterns of people, places and things that trigger your temptations and cravings.

• Distraction is a key strategy for successful coping. Physical and mental busyness works wonders.

• Substitution – eat something, drink a non-alcoholic beverage or go to the gym instead of the mall.

• Practice meditation, deep breathing or yoga. A moment of deep breathing and visualization at your desk is guaranteed to reduce your stress level.

• Your internal dialogue can be your best friend in a craving situation. “I’m uncomfortable but I know it will quickly pass. My feelings are normal. Everyone goes through similar experiences. I can cope because I know what’s happening to me.”

• Visualize your craving as an ocean wave dissolving on the shore.

• Review the negative consequences resulting from your problem behaviour.

• Review the benefits of change you’re looking forward to.

• Silently shout NO when a craving strikes.