Updated: Mar 14, 2019
After the Suboxone is gone.
Cravings are a bitch.
I am not talking about the cravings that we have to eat a salty snack instead of a sweet one. I might call that an inkling… I am talking about a craving that makes you want to jump out of your body. A craving that feels like you have a fish hook going in through your belly button and out through your mouth, pulling you towards the idea of the thing that you are craving. A profound restlessness, where “the calm” seems like an unattainable goal. A craving that leads you to carpet farming or “cleaning” your house in search of one little piece, sliver, or crumb of your DOC. This is the type of craving that can seem an impossible feat to make it through to the other side. But guess what? It can be done. And I imagine you already have some practice making it through.
Changing any really bad habit such as an addiction can seem like a Herculean struggle. But, you are a rock star and you are doing it, or on the path to kicking your bad habit to the curb. After the initial withdrawal off of Suboxone, many people experience cravings.
So what can we do when cravings hit?
First of all, we need to do some work before cravings hit.
You know how in school you did all sorts of fire drills, earthquake drills, etc.? It turns out that practicing those drills actually work. Holy shit do they work. I got to try it out when we had a really fucking big earthquake on November 30 of last year. I was at school (I moonlight as a high school teacher) and we all knew what to do because we have gone over those drills a million times from the time we entered kindergarten. I'll never doubt "the drill" again. So, how can we take "the drill" and apply it to coping with cravings?
The first thing I would suggest is to get a notebook (or a journal, if you will) and write down what you think your cues (triggers) are. What I mean by a cue, is when were you most likely to want to use Suboxone. My cue was when I got home from school. I will always have to come home from work every day, so instead of bypassing my cue, I have to ask myself, “what can I do to interrupt or change my coming home from school routine?”
I don’t have cravings for suboxone anymore, but for me, I do have the habit of mindlessly eating when I get home, so I am employing the tactics mentioned in this article to change that habit.
What about cravings that pop up and there doesn’t seem to be a cue? Usually, there is an emotional cue if you take a moment to be mindful about the craving. Mindfulness is one of the most important practices one can do, not just for people healing from an addiction, but for life in general. I have sung praises about having a mindfulness and meditation practice, and I will continue to. It is going to save your ass in many situations, not just when you have a craving.
Here are a few "drills" you can practice for when shit hits the fan.
Breath: Deep breathing tells our parasympathetic nervous system to take over (rest and digest). You want your exhale to be longer than your inhale.
• inhale for a count of five and exhale for a count of seven
-If you are just starting to learn to deep breath and a five count is too long try
beginning with a three count inhalation and a five count exhalation.
• Play around with different types of Pranayama (yogic breathing). I used Bhramari
breath to birth my second child.
If you are unsure how to take a deep breath into your belly, check out this YouTube video on how to deep breathe.
Breathing and Body Scan - take 3 deep breaths, see above for details. Start with your feet, notice your feet, are they touching the ground? In shoes? How to the soles of your feet feel? See your left calf, how does it feel? Let it relax. How does your right calf feel? Let your right calf relax. Pay attention to your knees and your thighs. Feel your knees and thighs relax… Continue this as you travel up to your head. you can get as detailed as you want with body parts. Get the link to the BODY SCAN guided meditation that I created for you right here.
Dance- I love to dance so for me this one is so great. I put in my headphones, put on some rap music, and dance.
Go for a walk- fresh air is therapeutic. If it is super cold, like it can be for us in Alaska, put on extra layers. You will be surprised at how refreshing it is. If you have dogs or kids, I am sure they'd love a walk.
Visualization- Quite simply put, go to your happy place. Take a few deep breaths, Imagine a very detailed version of your happy place. If it is the beach, what does the sky look like, how does the sand feel between your toes, are you wading in the ocean? What is the temperature? How does the horizon look, are there boats in the water? What does it smell like? How do the waves sound coming in?
The What and the Why: Ask yourself, “why am I feeling this way? Don’t stop at one answer, see if you can uncover the cue to why you are feeling a craving. It may be simple, like you have etched a deep line from doing the same thing everyday, or it might be due to anxiety, either way, you have a starting point.
What are some things that you have tried to calm cravings?