Temptation runs high for addicts who are trying to wean themselves off drugs and alcohol. When the craving hits, it’s important for the individual to have something productive, safe and healthy to focus on so they don’t give in and use. Here are some ideas of how to spend 20 minutes instead of abusing drugs and alcohol:
Finding a form of physical exercise to enjoy can mean a world of difference in the recovery process. Whether it’s a 20 minute jog or a workout video, exercise can be a great distraction from the lows of craving drugs and alcohol. Cardio produces endorphins which create a natural, visceral high, and it’s good for the body. Some athletes call it addictiVE, and while it’s never good to replace one addiction with another, turning to a good workout instead of caving to substance abuse is a positive and productive way to further your recovery. Joining a gym or a fitness club of some kind can curb the cravings.
On a similar note, doing 20 minutes of yoga can be a great way to relax and refocus. The calming effects are therapeutic, and the physical benefits are immense. Learn a series of poses, get a DVD, or find a short video online to guide your way through your craving by meditating on the positive things in life, and take your attention off the cravings. Joining a studio can help with the on-going cravings as a continuous part of therapy.
Perhaps you’ve always wanted to play the piano or the guitar – taking a weekly lesson and then practising for 20 or 30 minutes daily can be a productive way to get your mind off the need to use. Learning a new skill is a great way to challenge the brain and continue to develop one’s self, and have a positive result to show for it at the end of the day. It’s a great motivator and a good reason to stay clean. Art and music can be therapeutic as well, so channelling stress and other emotions into art is a great way to create, rather than destroy, within one’s own life.
Start drawing. Learn to knit or crochet, or take up woodworking. Whatever is of interest to you can be productive, as long as it’s not harming your body and mind. Making things with one’s hands is good for the mind, and allows for a feeling of fulfilment and satisfaction. Instead of feeling the shame and guilt of drug and alcohol abuse, the recovering addict can feel proud of making something beautiful out of nothing. It may take some time to discover what hobby is most enjoyable, and to learn the particular skill, but it will be so much more rewarding than substance abuse, and will create the perfect distraction when the cravings it.
When the craving hits, decide it’s time to make dinner, even if you don’t eat it until dinner time. Channel that energy and craving into a love of good food and start making colourful, healthy, fresh meals for yourself, or even for your loved ones. Cooking is an art form, and it can be a way to focus on one’s health. By channelling the stress of the craving into a healthy meal, you’ll be less likely to want to undo that health by using again. Cooking a good meal takes about 20 minutes, so get a nice cookbook and become the chef you always wanted to be.
Maybe you feel you wasted those years of your life as an addict, and now it’s time to make up for lost time. Create a reading list for yourself: all of the classics you never bothered to read before; become an expert on something; whatever it is, make your list, and when the craving hits, get lost in a good book for 20 minutes.
The key to finding a good distraction from the cravings is to find something productive to do – not something that is replacing one bad habit with another, but something that will better your life. If you consistently turn to that activity when you start to feel the craving, you’ll begin to associate the positive feelings the activity gives you with the feelings of want, and you’ll soon become attached to that hobby, but in a good way. Your body and mind will thank you for spending your time with your new love, instead of relapsing into drugs and alcohol.