Getting past the cravings
A while ago someone asked ÔHow do you get past the bad
and I looked back and found these notes I made. Maybe
these ideas will help you. Let us know!
The physical cravings pass in about 72 hours. Those are
mostly related to blood sugar and your change in your daily cycles, both
physical and mental. Your body is still making large quantities of the enzyme
for digesting alcohol, and suddenly it isnÕt there. Your body expects a steady
flow of sugar. And your brain is expecting a river of dopamine to flood your
synapses, and it isnÕt there.
The longer term desire for alcohol doesnÕt seem to me to
be accurately described by the term ÔcravingsÕ because they are more
theoretical in nature. What seems like an intense ÔneedÕ is really a very, very
strong Ôwant.Õ Those wants result from some core beliefs that you have created
and now hold and even cherish: that you must have alcohol because.....[you fill
in the blanks here].
If you havenÕt specifically articulated to yourself why
you LIKE to drink, this is the time to do so.
A cost-benefit analysis can be a useful way to do this if
you are the kind of person who likes to make lists. I found it useful to go sit
under a big tree and talk about it to myself (or the tree; itÕs a good
listener). It was important to me to state clearly that I liked alcohol. I
liked what it did to my brain—relieving stress and anxiety, and calming
the niggling part of the brain that keeps us juggling the many facets of our
But I didnÕt like the other things it did, and I had to
realize that I probably couldnÕt drink just enough to accomplish what I liked
about it and then stop. So it was time to try to find other ways of
accomplishing what I liked about alcohol. More important, it was time to stop
All of this is great in theory, but when you are walking
past those bottles in the store thereÕs a great temptation to just reach out
and put one or two in the cart. So I created a short-cut through the long
process of reasoning with myself. In my case I reminded myself that I had made
a promise to my kids. ÔNo, you told the kids you wouldnÕtÕ was a simple thing
to say to myself.
Of course, there are plenty of times that I could buy it
and they wouldnÕt know. So the next reminder was Ôif you donÕt buy it, you canÕt
drink it.Õ And if I thought Ôyou could just buy oneÕ IÕd remind myself Ôbut youÕd
enjoy more than one. Next time youÕll want to buy two. If you donÕt buy it, you
canÕt drink it.Õ
The point of this long discussion (canÕt you just see me,
standing in the grocery store, talking to myself? Clerks looking at me...Õuh,
sir, can I help you find something?Õ ÔYeah, my mind. It seems to have wandered
off.Õ) is that I made myself some simple mantras and quick arguments to cut
through the clutter and make the seemingly spontaneous decision TO buy turn
into a conscious decision NOT to buy.
Then, when you have more time, you can ponder the
irrational beliefs that led you to think that drinking was going to make
something better. Which leads to another of my favorite mantras: ÔthereÕs
nothing bad that drinking doesnÕt make worse.Õ
Pretty soon drinking isnÕt something you think about
several times a day. Maybe once or twice a day. And if you donÕt do it, those
thoughts will continue to diminish. ThatÕs very important to remember! If you
DONÕT DO IT, the thoughts will diminish! I guarantee, if you DO drink, the
thoughts will increase.
And I promise you that eventually you have whole days
where you donÕt even think about drinking, or if you do itÕs in a sort of
ÒI used to do thatÓ, frame of mind. You just donÕt do it
anymore, or particularly care about it.
It does help to keep yourself busy by developing an
interest that youÕve had in the past—now that you have more clear-headed
time to make use of. But thatÕs a whole Ônother topic.
Please feel free to share your irrational beliefs with us.
YouÕll be surprised how many of them weÕve had ourselves.