“I stop drinking for a while, and then, all of a sudden I start to crave again right out of the blue.”
“They told me in rehab that I will always crave, and that recovery is my only chance of fighting through that.”
“I get cravings for crack every time I go into the city, so I avoid it as best I can. But sometimes the cravings are too much and I go on a run.”
Each of these statements have been said to me, along with hundreds of other varying stories about the destructive power of cravings. There is little doubt that people crave, and it’s not just in the substance realms that people struggle with cravings. You can crave someone you love, an activity you enjoy, food, sex, or any other “shiny object” you prefer. But do cravings compel people to act beyond the power of will? Do they drive out-of-control behaviors? Do cravings happen to you, or do you actively crave?
Cravings – What Are They?
These are important questions, and they get to the heart of issue. The commonly held view of a craving is that it comes out of nowhere and compels that individual to act in contrast to what they really want. It drives “bad” behavior. It drives the addiction. And most of all, the belief holds that a craving is something other than a creation of your own free will or mind; that a craving comes from somewhere outside of you, and in essence, attacks you. This attack ends with out-of-control behavior, and thusly the addict is compelled to continue their use whether they like it or not. These cravings are seen as “powerful urges”. In this view, we are taught that the best we can do is distract ourselves from these attacks of craving with all sorts of recovery activities such as 12 step meetings, relapse prevention classes, therapy, trigger free living, alternative coping mechanisms, etc. But eventually you fall outside of the recovery community isolative protection and all its daily distractions, and you need to muster up the grit and willpower to fight through the cravings. It’s an exhausting lifestyle this recovery bit.
Unfortunately, this view is based on the myth that a craving “happens to you” or is a thing outside the scope of your own mind and desires and preferences. This lie creates an unnecessary battle that results in a huge waste of time and energy. Only the truth can set you free from craving something that you are truly ready to let go of.
Let’s start with the facts: Craving is not something that happens to you. It is a mental thought or series of thoughts you create within your own mind, based on the belief that you want the object of your desire. It is nothing more and nothing less. This last statement does not mitigate how strong a human desire can be. The craving for a spouse or child lost to an early death can be heart wrenchingly overwhelming. The craving for food or drink after a long, tough day at work can be strong. The craving for crack, heroin or alcohol can be equally gripping. So the question is, how do you resist them? In the book, The Freedom Mode for Addictions, Escape the Treatment and Recovery Trap, this question is answered in some detail. Take a look:
How Do I Resist Cravings?
You don’t get cravings; you actively crave, so no resistance is needed since it is something you choose or decide not to choose for yourself (emphasis added).
Recovery ideology has renamed wanting substances as “getting powerful cravings.” This language distorts what’s actually happening when a person wants to use a substance, or even thinks about a substance. It leads people to believe that there is an objective force called a craving that they “get” or that otherwise happens to them. This mythical craving then becomes something to fight, resist, or prevent by some complicated means. Seen this way, it becomes something that requires strength and support or a special coping technique to overcome or resist. The truth is that craving isn’t a thing or a force; it’s an activity that you choose to do. You actively engage in craving, by thinking in some way “a drink/drug would feel good right now.” It feels “stronger” when your thought amounts to “I need a drink/drug right now.” And there are various shades of wanting in between these extremes. To crave is to actively think that using is the preferable option. So, like quitting, “dealing with cravings” is essentially a zero step process once you know what you want. When you change your perception of substance use, and see using less or none at all as your preferred option, craving will no longer be an issue because you won’t be thinking “I really need a drink/drug right now.”
Until you’ve changed your perception of substance use, you may find yourself revisiting the thought that you “want or need a drink/drug right now.” All you need to know at this point is that there is no powerful craving that’s forcing you to use, and that when you think you need to use, you are free to challenge that thought. You are free to ask yourself “do I really need a drink/drug right now?”
Habit will play a role, as you will be more apt to think these thoughts in the situations in which you’ve always thought this way. If you recognize that’s just habit rather than a “powerful craving” thrust upon you by the disease of addiction, then you will realize there is nothing to battle or resist, and the habit of ideating about substance use will quite naturally die.
In short, know that craving is just thinking favorable thoughts about substance use, and – most importantly – you are free to think differently. It isn’t something that happens to you, it’s something you actively do. And that, you can change.”
If you want to know more about becoming free from cravings, you can get your own free copy of The Freedom Model for Addictions, Escape the Treatment and Recovery Trap at www.thefreedommodel.org/products/ and use the coupon code FREEDOM108 at checkout. For The Freedom Model for the Family use coupon code FAMILY100 at checkout.
Or call 888-424-2626 for help with your addiction.
If you would like to get away and learn the Freedom Model with a certified FM Instructor in a residential retreat setting at The Saint Jude Retreat, call the number above, or go to www.soberforever.net
If you want to learn about The Freedom Model Private Instruction Program, a program you take from the safety and comfort of home, go to www.leaveaddictionbehind.com