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Experiencing Intense Cravings For Drugs and Alcohol. How Do I Get Through This?

by Gavin

Hi. I’ve been clean and sober for about a year now. I’m experiencing pretty intense cravings though. I was using drugs and drinking heavily for a period of about 10 years before that.

This is my third attempt at recovery, and the longest period of sobriety I’ve managed. I sort of follow the 12 steps on and off, but never really enjoyed going to meetings. I guess I’ve relied mostly on will power to get me this far, but it feels like a struggle most of the time. I know I can’t go back to my life as it was, but I’m finding it really hard at the moment. Any suggestions?


It is worrying that you’re finding it so hard still and still experiencing intense cravings after a year. You’re always going to have your ‘bad’ days where you feel like drinking or using – but the trick is to not give into those feelings, because you know your worst day in recovery is still better than the best day you’ll have using.

But if you’re having these cravings on a regular basis it could mean a couple of things. First, that you’ve still got remaining alcohol or drug residue in your system causing these cravings. So you should look at doing some kind of detox. Things like sauna’s, deep tissue body massage, and juice fasts can all help greatly in this regard. A good homeopath could probably also offer some helpful suggestions.

The other contributing factor could be that you’re living too much in your head and don’t have enough stuff to do or focus on that keeps you active and your mind away from the thoughts and emotions that could be causing these cravings. That’s why building a life in recovery involves so much more than just abstinence. It’s about creating a whole new lifestyle and way of living. What are you passionate about? What sports or hobbies do you enjoy doing? How can you be of service? What can you do to help others? What can you do to give your life real meaning and purpose? How can you develop your spiritual life?

A shift in awareness is sometimes all it takes so hopefully some of the suggestions above will help with that. And don’t underestimate the power of prayer – even if you’re not religious. I know remarkable stories where people have gotten through periods of the most intense cravings, simply by praying with all they’ve got, sometimes at no one in particular. Take a look at these relapse prevention tips too. You might find some useful ideas in there.

You’ll get through this I’m sure. Go well.

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by: Anonymous

I love the comment on prayer, "even if you are not religious". Those of us who are not religious don't believe in prayer.. therefore it can't have any psychological effects...

Anyway drug addiction is a symptom not a problem. Drug addicts are self medicating for something... be it depression, loneliness, neurological illness.. whatever.

If you can isolate the source of your drug addiction, and remedy that, the cravings will disappear. In the mean time your will power WILL get you through. Do not listen to those weak willed people who tell you it wont; just because they were to weak willed to stick it out does not mean you are as well.

I worked as a drug rehab counselor for five years, I am not just talking out of my behind.

Blessed be,

Will power?
by: Sheri (South Africa)

I don't believe that an addict can only rely on will power to stay clean. I tried it in the past and, although my drug was heroin, I felt like a Dry Drunk - just abstaining til the next time I'd use. I've been clean only 2 months now, but attending a proper rehab programme for 21 days really changed the way I view my recovery now. Learning that you have to change your way of life completely, as well as working out what daily coping skills and craving coping skills work for you - no good someone gives you a list of their coping skills and they have not been refined to fit your personality. So my suggestion is to attent a programme, in-patient if possible, and continue from there. AA / NA doesn't work for everybody. You need to find a plan that works for YOU. You shouldn't have to rely on will power alone (although it does play a large role), it's about changing the way your mind works and working on that so that one day you'll wake up and not have a single thought about using at all. Your life will be so different you won't need to use will power. Just my advice...

Thank you
by: Gavin

I think I have been spending too much time in my head. Sitting around and wallowing in self-pity isn't going to get me very far. Time to get active and doing stuff again. Thanks for the suggestions. Lots to ponder.

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