What is the secret to ridding yourself of cravings for alcohol or other drugs?
Here is the first part of the equation: the secret is not in focusing on eliminating the cravings. You can’t beat an obsession by focusing on that obsession. That will only make it worse.
The second idea people might have is to simply let go of the cravings and release them. Stop paying attention to them and let the cravings just evaporate. Guess what? This doesn’t work either. If you are obsessing over using a drug you can’t just ignore it or wish it away. If you could then overcoming addictions would be a whole lot easier.
So when dealing with cravings, we have so far:
* Actively thinking about the problem does not work.
* Passive behavior does not work either. The cravings do not leave on their own.
So what is the solution? In a nutshell: distraction. Notice the root word of action in there. Distraction contains action.
Now I’m not just talking about going to a movie in order to get your mind off of drugs (although that could be one distraction tactic for some people). What I’m really talking about here is setting up your entire life as one big distraction from drug addiction.
When is a distraction not really a distraction? When it does not hold your interest. If someone tries to distract you with something, and they are rather boring, is it going to work? Of course not. You will quickly lose interest and go back to what you were doing.
So, what defines a good distraction in recovery?
Passion. Purpose. Enthusiasm. Creative energy.
So really this comes back to the idea of using creative recovery as relapse prevention. It also ties in nicely with building up your self esteem as an insurance policy against relapse. The two ideas can work powerfully together in helping you to stay clean and sober. Once you start creating with purpose, your life will improve and you will start to care more and more about yourself (and about others). When you have a purpose in life and can get excited about it, you start to value your life more because the work you are doing is important. This generates self esteem from the inside and provides further insurance against relapse.
The key to beating cravings is to take action every day in your recovery. Creative, purposeful action that gives your life meaning. Stuff that gets you excited. If you can’t find what that is then start with the idea of helping others in recovery. That alone can be enough to get most people into a creative and purposeful life.
Find something that matters in your life and start chasing it. Make it your passion.
Get excited about creating something new in your life and your cravings will disappear.