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How to Interrupt a Craving

Cravings are always worse in the beginning of recovery. Not only are they more intense, they’re more frequent because you haven’t had much practice identifying and avoiding triggers. Although it’s best to avoid triggers in the first place, there will be times when you suddenly find yourself having cravings.

The first thing you want to do is label it. Say to yourself, “This is a craving. It’s just a feeling.” Know that it will pass. You have no doubt experienced cravings before and you know they don’t last forever. In fact, unless you dwell on it, or worse, give in to it, an intense craving will only last about a minute. Once you have identified the craving as a feeling that will pass, you have several options to keep yourself out of trouble.

Play the tape.

The craving is only about anticipating the moment immediately after relapse. Don’t let yourself dwell on that moment. Instead, think all the way through. What are the next few hours like? What about the next few days and weeks? Vividly remember what was happening when you finally decided to get sober and use those feelings to combat the desire for one momentary pleasure.

Call someone.

Call a friend, relative, or sponsor, and talk about what you’re feeling. Meet them somewhere if necessary.

Distract yourself.

You can only focus on one thing at a time. Read a book or watch a movie. Ideally, do something that takes a bit of concentration so you are actively engaged, like maybe a video game. It’s better to put your attention somewhere else rather than try to push the craving away. You can’t push it way without thinking about it. It’s much better to say, “Fine, I’m having a craving but I’m going to pay attention to this other thing I want to do.”


If your craving is really bad, you might not be able to focus on reading or whatever else you are trying to do. In that case, take a walk or go for a run. More strenuous activity is better because the stress signals your brain to pay attention to what you’re doing instead of the craving. Something that requires a bit of concentration, like basketball, might be helpful too. Most importantly, exercise dampens stress and anxiety, which are probably fueling your craving.

Be around people.

Go to a meeting or meet up with friends. Go to a coffee shop. You don’t want to be sitting around bored and lonely while battling a persistent craving.

Cravings are temporary, but if you are in the middle of one, it feels threatening and permanent. Having a plan for dealing with cravings can save you a lot of trouble. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, Gardens Wellness Center can help you detox safely and decide on a treatment strategy. Call us today at 844-325-9168 or email us at to learn more.