I remember before even getting help (going to rehab and doing iop afterward) my main obstacle to staying sober was dealing with cravings. I saw cravings/urges as something that I don’t have the power to overcome. Every time I tried fighting it I would lose and end up at the liquor store. That’s why I felt so hopeless. I had this strong desire to become sober but yet no ability to overcome the mystic powers of urge/craving.
So what does craving mean to you?
I have never just stopped and tried to understand the psychology of craving till I learned about mindfulness. After having experienced many cravings throughout my first year of sobriety I have come to the conclusion of how much this feeling is complicated. It is not just simply a feeling of desire and urge.
Craving is not me
Mindfulness gave me the capacity to separate myself from craving. Before I thought that if I want to drink it means it’s me who wants to drink. It’s untrue because it is possible for your mind to send you suggestion signals even if you don’t want them, therefore, I don’t need to feel bad about feeling an urge. Just because I feel it that doesn’t mean that I want it. The feeling doesn’t mean you want it. To me urges aren’t welcome anymore, yes they produce desire…
Craving is a habit
I have noticed that a lot of my cravings appear simply out of habit meaning brain loves same patterns and if I happen to repeat one from the past that leads me to get drunk I will develop a craving. Being aware of my past patterns can help me to downplay the urges that come up or I can simply avoid doing something in particular if I think this will trigger me.
Craving is an urge
Every time I have it I feel like it’s calling me. You have to do this. You must! I found that I can still take this action but substitute it with something else than alcohol. Food, seltzer water or just getting up and changing my current location will quiet the sirens.
Craving is an instant gratification
Give me now so I can feel good now. Part of drinking pleasure for me was that it acted as a reward. I had a bad day or I felt angry with someone, therefore, I must please myself. Who can say no to pleasure? The way I combat that is by being aware that I am taking specific action for the purpose of install gratifying myself. Why do you think fast food tastes so good even though it is terrible in reality? By being aware of the sneaky gratification want behind my action I am also saving some money. No more gas stations on my work breaks! I can plan ahead and buy something in bulk for my daily gratification needs. Alcohol was extreme gratification item for me.
Craving is a desire
And desires are hard to combat. The worst mistake I have made in the past is try to deny myself that particular desire. Denying it made it even stronger. Now I ask myself what am I desiring? There are so many negative sides to drinking that once I play the tape through it automatically subsides my desire. Cancer, dehydration, hangover, pain, regret and the list goes on…
Craving is the want to escape
I never understood when in rehab they would keep on repeating word escape. Escape from what?- I was in denial. Now I know that I used alcohol to escape from stress, boredom, social over stimulation, my sorrows, frustrations, and self-pity. One reason why sobriety is so scary is how will I erase everything on that particular day and become refreshed? Yes, that is what I actually believed in when I was drinking.
Craving is an irritation
Every time I have a craving I am in a mild pain that it is so irritable that I want to cry. The more I think and obsess about it the longer it lasts. If I still feel the craving after 15 minutes I know that its because I am obsessing about it. Learning of letting go in this case is very helpful.