Saturday, November 29, 2008

Urges and Cravings

My therapist works with women who have or who have had eating disorders, alcoholism, and behavioral addictions like cutting. We have been talking about my habit—now starting to seem like an addiction—to fear thinking. I scare myself with “What if…?” scenarios. In the last few weeks as I have become more conscious of doing this I am noticing that it may correspond with times that I am feeling ok, or even—Good. Something in me needs to disrupt that?

Anyway, we’ve been talking about this way of thinking as a habit and that led to how do I change or disrupt that? Is there a way to not succumb to the part of me that wants to upset or scare me?

That’s when she said that she has a technique that she teaches women who binge eat, or purge or cut and that is to have some “urge distracters”. These are things they can turn to when the urge to indulge in their bad habit comes over them.

She said—this is the good part: “”We know from the research that any urge will pass in 15 to 20 minutes.”

Fifteen or 20 minutes! That’s not bad. When an urge to “use” hits an addict the feeling is always that this urge is going to last either forever or until I give in to it. But no—just 15 to 20 minutes. Now that is pretty manageable. Not easy but manageable.

The advice then is to be prepared ahead of time (the key to prepare ahead) with some activities or behaviors that will distract me for the necessary 15 to 20 minutes. I made a list: read Vogue, shop online, clean a closet or one drawer, call a friend, sing out loud etc.

Then it hit me. Alcoholics Anonymous—with out any research—knew this intuitively. When we talk about the craving to drink AA suggests:

Work with another alcoholic
Move a muscle change a thought
Call your sponsor
Call someone and ask them about them

This too shall pass.

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