Cravings & urges can feel all-consuming. When our bodies and minds have spent years responding to the urge to drink with a drink then that’s a lot to unwind. It takes practice and some work to rewire our habits but it’s possible. The most important thing to remember when it comes to cravings & urges is that they are just emotions, and they will pass.
Identify the time of day & distract
The first part of tackling an urge is to identify what time of day the urge to drink comes around. For it was around 3pm that I would get the urge and start looking forward to a glass of wine to unwind. This was the time of day when my kids would start coming home from school, the stress of the day was mounting and everything that I did not get done would be weighing heavy. The urge to numb out and get relief was super high. Knowing that this was on repeat daily, I started to plan my day around this time to ensure I was doing something either relaxing or distracting to keep my thoughts away from the drink. Since the urge to drink is an emotion and will pass, the distractions would help in the moment and some days I’d completely forget and suddenly it would be 7pm. If I made it to 7pm I was usually golden because by that time I was so exhausted the urge had passed and I was over it.
What’s the real need?
Distractions help in the fleeting moment but to combat the urges we must uncover what the need is behind the craving. For me, that was the desire to numb out and not feel the overwhelm I was experiencing in my life. Before the craving even hit, I could feel myself start to spin. My hyperarousal would be in full force and there was no reasoning with my logical brain. My thoughts prior we at the route of the need to checkout. Slowing down and using grounding techniques help me get back into my body. Mediation and exercising also can help ease the itch. When you slow down enough to find out what the real need is, you can start to nurture that part of you instead of trying to numb all parts out, good and bad.
Name the urge
Another way to tame the beast is to start to name it. Once you name the urge, you can confront it like the slimy sneaky life-destroying emotion it really is and tell it to back the f off. I’ve heard people call it the wine witch, or boozy Betty whatever name works. That person is like a whiney toddler, she wants to get her way no matter what. Now that she has a name, you get to address the situation and remind her who is calling the shots. Holding space for all emotions, good and bad is the ultimate goal however that wine witch is relentless! Tell her she can have some wine tomorrow if she still really wants it, just not today
Come up with a plan
Alcohol is everywhere so it’s incredibly important to come up with a plan during transition times. Pinpoint reasons behind the urges which are usually rooted in some sort of emotional distress, like loneliness or boredom. Fortunately, there are plenty of other things you can do instead of drinking; for example, exercise more, talk with friends about your feelings, meditate and so on. Whatever it takes to make yourself feel better make a plan for something else to do instead of picking up.