Sometimes cravings can’t be avoided, and so you need to find ways to cope with them. Below are some things for you to try out to cope with the physical, behavioural and psychological effects of cravings. Put a tick in the box next to those things you think you could do:

To manage the craving, by concentrating on the moment, rather than worrying about thoughts, or worrying about the past or the future. Use mindful walking, alien vision or mindfulness skills for any other activity you enjoy to keep yourself fully in the moment.

When you experience a craving for alcohol or other drugs, put off the decision to drink or use for 1 hour. Do something else for that hour like practice your mindfulness skills, take a bath, go for a walk, listen to music, write in a journal, do the dishes etc. This breaks the habit of you immediately acting on the impulse when it comes. You will find that once you are interested in something else, the impulse will go away.

Concentrate on your breathing – fully focus on it. Breathe deeply in, and as you breathe out, say the word “relax”. Wait a few seconds between each breath. Once you are relaxed, form a picture in your mind of a wave at the beach. This is the impulse wave, and remember that the wave will build up to its highest point and then fall away as it rolls into shore. Picture the wave building up, getting ready to break, see it break, see the foam form, and see the wave fade away as it rolls into shore. Now, picture yourself riding the wave, surfing the impulse wave into shore. You don’t fall off, you don’t get dumped and churned around, just picture yourself calmly surfing the wave into shore. Remind yourself that this little wave is only a small part in your day. You can surf the wave at any time, and wait for it to fade away.

Tell yourself that this feeling will not last all day. Tell yourself “This feeling will pass.” You will find that the urges themselves will be easier to deal with. Say to yourself, “Yes, this feels pretty bad, but I know it will pass soon.

(Adapted from Marlatt & Gordon, 1985)


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