Craving Management

Craving is not a word reserved only for drug or alcohol addiction. Craving began when we were born. Because of our need to survive our brains came wired with circuitry to want, need, appreciate, and to pursue natural rewards such as food, water and sex. But in today’s society we crave far more. From cigarettes and gambling to email and smartphones.

Alcohol and drugs used by addicted people activate the very same circuitry in our brain that motivates our need to eat and our desire for sex. Signals within our brain called cues can actually be stronger for drugs and alcohol than for food or sex.

We’re All Different

All people are different. Some have a much better ability to manage their cravings while others have difficulty avoiding harmful drugs and alcohol, putting them at increased risk for cravings and addiction. Cues can be merely sights and sounds, to thoughts or even smells, and can last just one second or even less.

Add-On Triggers

Adding to this difficulty of managing cravings may be accompanying mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety, which are triggers for alcohol, drugs and food. Along with the availability and convenience of all things craveable. It’s easy to see the coming relapse. Being addicted to drugs and alcohol raises the risk of becoming depressed, and that can lead to self-medication and eventual addiction. Today, nearly half the people in treatment have alcohol use disorders along with other mental illnesses.

The Right (Easy) Tools

There are a number of craving management tools as well as anti-craving medications that may be helpful in managing your craving.

One easy and effective anti-craving strategy is to make a short-term contract with yourself, say 5 minutes. You agree with yourself not to cheat, desire or engage in the substance for the next 5 minutes. At the same time you enter into a distracting activity, like gardening, sports, jogging or playing with the kids. Many cravings are temporary and get weaker as you maneuver around them for those first few minutes. Continue with the 5-minute contact. If it is successful turn it into a 10-minute contract.

View your cravings in an objective way. Having cravings doesn’t mean you are weak or not motivated. Learn all you can about them, and what triggers them. Use the 5-minute contract to manage them.

This report is not a diagnosis. We hope this information can guide you toward improving your life.

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