Cravings are a common and difficult part of ongoing recovery. Even alumni who are continuing to navigate their sober lives are tasked with overcoming cravings in daily life. While staving off cravings is a ubiquitous experience, it is also critically important for maintaining each individual’s hard-earned sober transformations. Developing effective skills to process these feelings and stresses is necessary to prevent cravings from leading to slips, relapse, or otherwise negatively impacting a person’s life.

Fortunately, there are daily strategies that each alumnus can use to address cravings. Meanwhile, continued professional and peer support are available to help each person find their own set of best practices for staving off cravings in a healthy and successful sober life. 

What Are Cravings?

While an individual may have graduated from a center for alcohol and drug treatment and is balancing their sober lives in outpatient treatment as an alumnus, that doesn’t mean that there won’t still be many challenges ahead. It is common for an individual to feel compelled to reengage with addictive substances after treatment, even after maintaining their sobriety over a long period of time. 

Cravings are the intense urges or compulsions of those in recovery to compromise their sobriety and reengage with substance(s) used previously. It can be incredibly difficult to process and overcome cravings without succumbing to them. However, simply experiencing a craving does not mean that an individual has somehow “failed” in their recovery efforts. Rather, recurring cravings indicate the need to have a plan in place to stave off cravings without engaging with these substances again. 

How Do I Deal With Cravings After Years of Sobriety
How Do I Deal With Cravings After Years of Sobriety?

Dealing with drug or alcohol cravings years into sobriety still requires self-awareness and patience. Call Hawaii Island Recovery today at (866) 390-5070.

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Cravings can also be tied to particular stresses, with certain circumstances, places, or people bringing back memories or impulses that may inform a person’s body or mind and cause them to crave addictive substances. Some of the common stresses that can cause cravings include:

  • Spending time with someone who continues to engage in substance use
  • Going to a place where a person used to engage with drugs or alcohol, such as a social area, a particular friend’s house, or even a room in a person’s own home where they used to hide drugs or alcohol
  • Certain times of day that were associated with substance use, such as after work or with breakfast to start off the day

Other cravings may manifest without clear stresses or sources but are just as intense. Having a plan to process and overcome these cravings when they do occur is paramount for the continued sobriety of alumni. 

Embracing Skills for Staving off Cravings

Cravings are difficult to process, even for those who are successfully managing and maintaining their hard-earned sobriety. Not only can they manifest at any time, but they can also vary in frequency, intensity, and duration. For this reason, making dedicated plans for staving off cravings is crucial across varying situations. While cravings can be incredibly difficult to navigate, cravings will pass in time, and filling this time with strategies and techniques to avoid engaging with these compulsions is key to staving off cravings. 

Identify the Craving

Before an individual can employ any strategies for staving off cravings, they must first identify the craving taking place. For some, these intense feelings can be obvious. Images and thoughts of engaging with drugs or alcohol can flood a person’s mind, and an individual may also romanticize particular memories that were suddenly interjected. 

However, it is also possible for cravings to build up through stress, and an individual can be taken by surprise if they are not prepared to cope with these feelings. Regular use of mindfulness techniques, breathing strategies, and more can all help those in recovery identify when their bodies are reacting to seen or unseen stress, and situate an individual in the present moment rather than feeling emotionally transported back to a time when the use of drugs and alcohol was normal. 


Working with professionals to establish breathing techniques and having regular mindfulness practices throughout the day such as yoga, meditation, or personal daily strategies, can all help an individual create a new sense of normal and identify when stresses or cravings may impact this normal. Likewise, using journals to identify patterns where cravings are more prevalent, such as in certain locations, times, or following certain stresses, can further help those maintaining their sobriety identify and prepare for them effectively. 

Keep Mentally Occupied

Thoughts of reengaging with drugs or alcohol can be intense, and it is important to find ways to distract oneself mentally to avoid any complications. Having something to focus on can help an individual process these thoughts and overcome such impulsive notions. Reading a book, making a list of daily tasks remaining, or even reinforcing sobriety by looking at a memento of a sober journey, such as a photo of a loved one or a reason for getting sober, can all help challenge these thoughts and keep a person’s mind focused while under the stresses of cravings. 

Dealing With Cravings While in Recovery
Dealing With Cravings While in Recovery

Overcoming cravings in recovery can feel challenging, but it is possible. Hawaii Island Recovery can help you on your journey. Call us today at (866) 390-5070.

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Actively Staving off Cravings

Likewise, physically getting moving or active can also be instrumental, giving not only the mind something different to focus on, but also occupying a person’s behaviors. Going on a walk with a pet, walking along the beach, painting, listening to music, or even writing down feelings and intense challenges in a notebook can all be ways to process cravings while keeping the mind and body busy until cravings inevitably pass. 

Contacting supports to engage in activities, or to just talk through these notions, can also be incredibly effective, with educated support readily available by phone for continued encouragement and understanding.

Cravings are difficult and common, and we at Hawaii Island Recovery can help you create the best, most personalized strategies for overcoming cravings for a sober life. Our committed and comprehensive center for alcohol and drug treatment comes with trained professionals and a caring community of peers that not only understand the continued challenges commonplace throughout recovery as an alumnus, but are also ready to help you explore the strategies, opportunities, and skills to help you stave off cravings for continued success in sobriety. From personalized therapies to new social connections and supports, we can help you reach your next sober milestone. For more information on how we can help you, call to speak to us today at (866) 390-5070.