How to Cope with a Craving in 5 Steps

You’re sitting there fidgeting and looking around wondering how the next few hours or minutes are going to go as that voice in your head keeps trying to convince you that it’s okay to take one hit, just one to get your bearings back and your head on straight. You don’t want to go down that road again but the temptation and the craving, like a calling from some old friend, is right there over your shoulder. It’s a private battle in your head, one the others around you can’t see. The worst part is it makes you feel powerless to its allure. 

What do you do?!

There are 5 core steps to answer this question. Write these down on your hand and walk through them when you start to feel that itch and hear that voice. Cravings are just chemicals in your body and thoughts in your head. You can beat them. 


First thing’s first; just stop what you’re doing and take a moment to check your actions. If you’re walking in circles or sitting by the window or browsing the alcohol aisle at the store and the conflict starts up... just pause what you’re doing for a moment and think. Reflect and assess your actions. 

Often we get into these patterns where we’re on auto-pilot and old programming can sneak in. That’s probably what’s getting you in this funk so cut it off now and...

Get Out

After you stop and assess, the next important step is to change what you’re doing. If you’re sitting in the house making yourself crazy, get out of there and go for a walk or to the store. If you’re cruising the beer section of the store, put your items down and walk out. Proximity is a powerful temptation and staying in one circular pattern of struggling with yourself in the same place can wear you down. Stop and get out of there. A change of scenery and motion will shake up those conflicting thoughts and help you wrestle yourself under control.

Get Busy

It’s our regular patterns that are often responsible for falling back into temptation and cravings. Idle hands are the devil’s playground, as they say, so find something to do! Focus your energy and attention on some task, project, or hobby in order to get it away from the desire for a fix. This can be a run or workout, a creative project, or just going to a friend’s house to hang out and talk. Just find something to do that gets your mind off the craving.


One of the cornerstones of a successful substance abuse recovery is a good solid reason for getting clean. Whether it’s your work, friends, that beautiful kid who looks up to you, or a commitment to God, you have to rely on your reason in order to remember why you’re doing this. Remember, and remind yourself often, what pain and hell lies down the path of relapse. The only way to fight the sweet smooth-talking words of your inner craving is to remember your last detox and the way you hurt people. Don’t let yourself forget why you’re doing this.


Finally, after you stop mid-craving, get yourself out and doing something, and have re-affirmed your reasons for staying sober, the final master stroke of dominating that craving is to find another struggling addict to support and help. It’s not just you that needs a lifeline. The greatness of the Master is that he teaches the Apprentice and keeps learning as he does so. Reach out to someone in your support group or through a clinic and help them fight their own cravings. The added strength of will and confidence you get from altruism is more powerful than any chemical. 

Cravings are just chemical reactions in your body and old thought patterns in your head.

You’re in control.

You win.

Published on Fri, 01/09/2015 - 12:05
By Addiction Recovery