About the Big Craving: a Favorite Trick That Always Worked For Me

3 of series of 3 posts on cravings

In my first six months of getting clean, I had lots of using thoughts and many full-blown cravings. And though I employed the various tricks to “stop the thought” or “kill the craving” that we looked at in the previous blog posts, sometimes with a particularly strong craving I found myself overwhelmed. I was a hair’s breadth away from using.

You know the moment: your mind already knows exactly how to find the drug, which hotel to use at, the excuses I’d give my friends so as to drop under the radar for a day or two, and so on—all elaborately planned out in detail. (Sometimes this plan took less than a second or two to formulate; it was that fast.) Whenever this happened, I knew I had to bring out the big guns, so to speak.

I’ll share with you a favorite “trick” that worked, for me, every time. It may seem counterintuitive at first, but I promise this one works without fail–or, at least, it does for me. And, for what it’s worth, no one has ever notified me that they used because of it. Always the opposite. They didn’t use.

Here’s how it works:

When a craving would be so strong that the next breath would find me headed toward the ATM machine, I’d make the following promise to myself. “I will not use for the remainder of this day. I will go to bed clean. But I promise that if, come tomorrow morning, I still want to use, I’ll let myself party without hesitation or guilt.” That was the bargain.

The key here was to be sincere. Always. I had to know I would keep my word. It had to be a real promise, with teeth. So I was dead serious whenever I’d make this promise. It was the only way I could keep myself from using at that particular moment.

Here’s the catch. Every single time, every new morning when I awoke, I felt only one thing: immense gratitude that I hadn’t used the night before. Never failed me. By morning’s clear light, using was the last thing on my mind, the craving long past.

But, I had to be serious about the promise to myself. I had to be willing to let myself use without guilt if I still so desired the next morning.

This always worked for me when I had one of those big cravings that would get out of control. Without fail. For those of you in your early sobriety, or maybe even not so early, it may just work for you too.