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How to handle cravings

It’s normal to get cravings (urges) when you cut down or stop drinking or using drugs.

You can get through cravings

Fighting cravings or telling yourself you shouldn’t be having them can leave you feeling ashamed and disappointed.

It’s more helpful to recognise that cravings are a natural part of cutting down or giving something up.

It may feel like they are unmanageable. But they are only thoughts and feelings and you can push through them.

Cravings don’t last for ever

Cravings last an hour or two at most. Sometimes they only last a few minutes.

It may help to think of them as a wave that builds up, peaks and then goes away.

Distract yourself till they pass

The big thing is not to give into cravings. Instead, plan ways to distract yourself when they come.

You could try this simple deep-breathing technique.

Or you could go for a walk, listen to music, make a cup of tea or do a puzzle - whatever works for you.

Need more distraction ideas?

It gets easier

If you don't give in to this craving the next one will be easier to manage. Each time you get through a craving, your confidence will increase.

You can start to challenge any beliefs you may have about your cravings being stronger than you.

Give yourself time

Feeling more confident about coping with cravings won’t happen overnight.

It takes time to change and break an old habit.

But resisting the urge to act on cravings will get easier.