How to Manage Cravings

Cravings are an expectable part of early recovery. The goal is not to chastise yourself if you do have an urge to drink or use, but to recognize what triggers your cravings and to be able to manage, control, and not respond to them.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism states that there are two types of triggers for people in recovery: Internal and External.

External Triggers

External Triggers are potentially high-risk, but can be easier to manage than Internal Triggers

There will be people, places, things, or times of day that cause you to think of drinking or using. Here are some suggestions to help you avoid External Triggers.  

  • Make plans with people that support your sobriety.

  • Steer clear of bars, parties, and scenes that you used to party in.

  • Avoid triggering people (contentious exes, party pals, or people who anger you).

  • Walk an extra block home or drive a mile in a new direction so you don’t drive past your old bar or dealer’s house. Be willing to go out of your way for sobriety.

Internal Triggers

Internal triggers can be really sneaky, but can be managed!

Internal Triggers are thoughts that seem to appear out of nowhere, and may feel like an uncontrollable urge. They often occur due to an emotional or physical feeling: stress, anxiety, anger, fear, pain, discomfort, excitement, you name it! Addicts and alcoholics have brains that have been trained to react to feelings with a drink or a drug. The good news is, you can learn tools to handle these urges and NOT react by drinking or using when they occur. Some tools to help with Internal Triggers.

  • Recognizing that emotions, feelings, and thoughts pass. You CAN survive discomfort.

  • Have a sponsor, or trusted friend in recovery you can call at any time for support

  • Pause! So many urges are knee-jerk reactions. Stop what you are doing. Take a breath. Call someone for support. Let the moment pass. Most cravings may pass within minute.

  • Distract yourself until the feeling passes: Call someone. Take a walk. Wash your dishes. Do ANYTHING but what your brain tells you you must do. Because it’s not true. You don’t HAVE to have a drink or a drug. You can survive the moment.

In addition to these tools, there are forms for preparing for and tracking urges. Work on these with a sponsor or  recovery personnel to avoid being triggered by your trigger preparation! Safeguarding your sobriety is the number one priority in your life. By recognizing what triggers cravings and urges, you will begin to recognize they don’t control you. If you are considering seeking professional help for yourself or a loved one, you can find help 24 hours a day, at the Pat Moore Foundation.

Image: Flickr


Pat Moore Foundation teams up with D’Amore Healthcare. D'Amore Healthcare specializes in treating mental health and behavioral illness along with the wide variety of addictions such as alcoholism, opiate addiction, cocaine addiction, crystal meth addiction, and prescription drug abuse.

Our caring, qualified staff is here for you. If you have any questions regarding help for yourself or a loved one please contact our us anytime 24 hours a day at 714.375.1110 or fill out the contact form.

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