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One of the hardest parts about the recovery process is coping with drug and alcohol cravings. For those who haven’t been through addiction before, it can be hard to understand just how powerful these cravings can be. You need more than willpower to fight them. The only way to get better and reduce the intensity and frequency of cravings is through an Arizona treatment center.

Wolf Creek Recovery is an outpatient treatment center located in Prescott, AZ. We encourage our clients to start with medical detox so they can safely withdraw from drugs or alcohol. After detox, our clients typically start with our Phase One program, and then move onto Phase Two. We also have an Extended Care program, which is ideal for those still struggling with powerful cravings.

Here are some of our best tips for managing drug and alcohol cravings in early recovery.

Distract Yourself

One of the best ways to ride out a drug craving is to distract yourself when it arises. Have a list of distractions that you can count on, such as going for a drive, sitting in a hot tub, playing a musical instrument or listening to your favorite music.

Drug cravings tend to ease up after 30-45 minutes. Even though they are intense, they tend to run out of steam fairly quickly. If it helps, you can set a timer for a half hour. If you’re having trouble finding a distraction, call your sponsor. This is what they’re here for.

Substitute with Something Less Stressful

Harm reduction strategies do work, and they can be helpful when you’re first recovering from substance use. For example, if you have the urge to drink, enjoy a refreshing soda instead or eat something sweet.

These habits aren’t exactly healthy, so you don’t want to rely on them for too long. But they can be helpful in the early stages of quitting.

Practice Mindfulness

When a craving arises, you can also try to examine it mindfully. Typically, when a craving starts, it’s as if something is compelling you to drink or use drugs. You have two options: You can push it away or give into it.

Once you get stronger at mindfulness, you can take a step back and look at the craving without judgment. What does it feel like? Where do you feel it – the chest? Stomach? When you’re able to observe your thoughts and feelings, you’ll have an easier time riding out urges.

Play the Tape

Another strategy that works for many people in Arizona drug rehab is ‘playing the tape.’ What this refers to is thinking beyond the immediate reward of drinking or using drugs. What comes next – feeling let down? Telling your family about your slipup? Having to enter treatment again?

Your mind has a way of reminiscing about drug and alcohol use, and this can cause you to fixate on the good feelings. However, there is much more to using ‘just one more time.’ In reality, that one more time could cost you your life.

Talk to Someone

And finally, if you’re finding it hard to get through your craving on your own, talk to someone. Reach out to your sponsor, call a trusted friend or ask someone in your family to grab a cup of coffee. Not only will this distract you from your urge, but also it will allow you to talk through your feelings, which is an important healing tool.

These are just some of the ways that you can fight drug and alcohol cravings. It’s not easy at first, but it will become easier over time. The best approach is to be aware that cravings do happen, so have different coping tools and strategies in your back pocket. And if you need help along the way, contact our drug rehab in Arizona and ask about our Extended Care program.