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How to Manage Addiction Cravings Over the Holidays

How to Manage Addiction Cravings Over the Holidays

Overcoming an addiction might prove to be a more challenging task than you thought. However, learning to overcome your addiction is extremely important whether it’s a substance use disorder, alcohol use disorder, or behavioral addiction. Recognizing there’s a problem and taking steps to address it are huge first steps in your road to recovery.

One of the biggest hurdles to overcome when recovering from an addiction is dealing with cravings. It’s a very normal part of the process, and it’s one of the main reasons people tend to relapse. So, it’s important to better understand those cravings to be able to handle them appropriately. 

At her practice in Newport Beach, California, Venice Sanchez, MD, and the rest of our team want to help you in your journey to achieve and maintain sobriety, especially when it becomes extra difficult this holiday season.

In this blog, we define addiction cravings and give you some tools for dealing with them.

Explaining addiction cravings

Addiction cravings are extremely intense desires to use a substance or carry out a certain behavior, and they often lead to an intent to follow through. Often, these cravings can be so strong that they can affect your ability to think about anything other than satisfying that craving.

It can be difficult to push past cravings since addictive substances and behaviors can wreak havoc on the reward center of your brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in your brain that’s associated with both reward and participating in pleasurable activities. 

When you use substances or partake in an addicting behavior, large amounts of dopamine are released which reinforces your brain’s desire to keep repeating those activities. It might even become difficult to experience any kind of pleasure outside your addiction which is why your body craves it so intensely.

How to push past cravings

It is difficult to push past cravings at first. However, the more often you overcome these addiction cravings, the less frequent and less severe they’ll be. Here are some ways you can manage these cravings when they’re threatening to overwhelm you:

Avoid triggers

Cravings are going to come on strongly and suddenly if you’re in an environment where you used to use a substance or participate in certain behaviors. Other common triggers are stress, relationship struggles, going to a bar, and hanging out with people who are drinking alcohol or using drugs.

Try to make a list of triggers that you already know of and be aware of anything else that you think might trigger you in order to avoid them whenever possible.

Delay as long as possible

If you feel like you’re going to give in to your craving, keep telling yourself to wait 10 more minutes. During this time, try to keep yourself busy with something that effectively distracts you. You might be able to trick yourself into moving past the urge.

Never tell yourself to have “just one”

A common cause for relapse is thinking you can control yourself with one drink, binge, or high. However, this is a slippery slope and you can find yourself losing control and slipping right back into your addiction. 

Move around

Try exercising to push past a craving. You can try running up and down the stairs a few times, going for a walk or a job, or just doing a few sets of bodyweight squats. You could also try moving your body and exercising your mind through knitting, woodworking, cleaning, or organizing to keep busy.

Find a support system

If you don’t trust yourself to overcome addiction cravings on your own, ask a friend, family member, or support group to help you through. Our team is also available to talk you through your cravings and give you some tools to work through them.

For more information on how to manage addiction cravings this holiday season, reach out to our team with any questions that you have. You can contact us online or over the phone today.

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