Tricks for Resisting Drug Cravings and Avoiding Relapse

For individuals whose addictions haven’t reached critical levels, or for those transitioning out of inpatient treatment, outpatient rehab programs are an alternative solution which gives individuals the opportunity to receive structured addiction treatment with the freedom to continue working or going to school.

Most of the time, individuals going through outpatient treatment have already undergone detoxification. However, even those who have gone through this phase may find themselves having withdrawal symptoms, such as strong urges and cravings. However, there is no need to be alarmed. There are proven strategies to avoid relapse.

Understanding the Cycle

Before we go into methods of combating cravings, it is important to remember that having cravings or urges is a perfectly normal occurrence. There is no need for shame or embarrassment. In fact, recovering addicts can expect to feel these impulses from time to time. The key to successful recovery isn’t to diminish the feeling entirely, but rather to identify the beginning of a craving cycle and how to take a proactive approach to stop it.

Identifying the Trigger

Most craving cycles begin or are induced by some type of trigger response. These trigger responses can manifest from a variety of sources, including a person, event, or sensory experiences, such as familiar sights, sounds, smells, and surroundings. These stimuli cause individuals to recall thoughts and emotions surrounding former addictive behavior.

Finding a Distraction

Once you identify the trigger, you should remove yourself from the situation and find a healthy distraction to redirect your thoughts and feelings. There are a few ways one can carry this out.


The simplest and most efficient solution is to go for a walk. Not only is it a great way to leave a provoking situation, but the bilateral stimulation helps to ease an agitated mind. It also has positive effects on your breathing and nervous system. Simply by walking, you can lessen the urge to binge within 15-30 minutes.

Talking It Out

Others find that talking to someone about how they are feeling allows them to get back in control of their situation. Whether it is a trusted friend who knows your situation, your sponsor, or a family member, having a sympathetic ear can go a long way.

Engaging in a Fun and “Clean” Activity

student using pen for writing in diaryWhether it is watching a movie or playing a favorite video game, participating in an activity you enjoy can instantly ease the stress on your mind. You can also express your feelings by doing art or keeping a journal.

Long-Term Solutions

You don’t have to wait for a craving cycle to begin to engage in activities that can help you curb your cravings in the long run. The following solutions are examples of activities you can implement in your daily life:

  • Exercise
  • Meditation
  • Relaxation (such as taking a bath)

Professional Support

Recovery is a lifelong journey, and it is important to find caring professionals to help you find your way. To get in touch with an addiction counselor, call us at (973) 298-5776.

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