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193: Cravings and Obsession (Sort Of)
Welcome to Recovery (Sort Of), the podcast where we explore the winding paths of mental health recovery. Join us on a journey of self-discovery and growth, as we navigate the highs, lows, and unexpected detours of the recovery process. From managing anxiety and depression to coping with trauma and grief, each episode delves into real-life experiences, insights, and practical strategies for finding balance and healing.
What do you do when you get cravings? How do you deal with the obsession that says the thoughts won't go away until you do the thing? We are exploring the world of cravings and obsession. What causes these feelings? What can we do in the moment to help ourselves find relief from the pull to action? We talk about breathing, exercise, meditation and other ways to help with cravings and obsession. Listen in and then share your thoughts with us.
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What do you do when you get cravings? How do you deal with the obsession that says the thoughts won’t go away until you do the thing? We are exploring the world of cravings and obsession. What causes these feelings? What can we do in the moment to help ourselves find relief from the pull to action? We talk about breathing, exercise, meditation and other ways to help with cravings and obsession. Listen in and then share your thoughts with us.
In this episode:
How to find us and join the conversation:
recovery sort of is a podcast where we discuss the recovery and addiction topics from the perspective of people living in long-term recovery this podcast does not intend to represent the views of any particular group organization or Fellowship the views expressed here are solely the opinion of its contributors be advised there may be strong language or topics of an adult nature
welcome back it’s the recovery sort of podcast I’m Jason and I want stuff and I’m Billy I’m a person in long-term recovery I’m Jenny I’m also a person of long-term recovery I’m Caroline and I am also a person in long-term recovery and today we’re exploring the idea of Cravings or coping with Cravings or what do you do when you want stuff really really bad uh I think I mean I guess starting out like maybe we should start with our personal understanding of where this is coming from like craving I mean no that’s a word I think we use pretty regularly in like maybe the 12-step world but maybe that’s not a word everybody’s familiar with so what are we talking about when we say we had a craving is this just about like I want some heroin right now or what are you thinking I always pictured Cravings like stronger thoughts like for me it’s more it be it’s about obsessive compulsive thinking it’s not just like oh I want some ice cream it’s like [ __ ] I need to get some ice cream like kind of now not later not in the future like right now I need to get this thing or have this or want it right and there’s there’s a little bit of longevity to that I feel like too it’s not a passing thought it’s like it won’t leave your mind until you satisfy that craving like just that like non-stop thinking yeah obsessive yeah I remember the craving for alcohol when I was drinking and like just being at work being like Oh my God I can’t wait till five o’clock so I could just put liquor in me you know so it’s interesting why didn’t we go with the word Obsession because it sounds like that’s what we’re really talking about I think a craving usually at least to me has to do with wanting something to satisfy the obsession like I can obsess over things but there’s no easy solution right craving has an easy solution yeah it’s for a thing like I’m looking for a a substance or yeah yeah okay so here’s here’s okay the definition of craving we had a strong feeling of wanting something I don’t know if that’s what we’re really talking about here the second one a strong or uncontrollable desire that sounds more like what we’re referring to I think and then I looked up Obsession that’s something that causes an obsession
yeah so helpful dictionary a persistent disturbing preoccupation with an often unreasonable idea or feeling that’s interesting I’ve never thought of that like huh I thought I’d get obsessed over pretty reasonable [ __ ] usually yeah finances or something like that weird news stories right huh so that’s watching on Netflix that’s an interesting take but I I really I think the thing that is more interesting for me is the idea that I’ve never really I have never considered Obsession separate from the craving part of it like I just always assume the problem with Obsession was the fact that I thought I needed something to stop it or to quelch it or to quench it or whatever like I’ve never considered Obsession as like being able to be separate from that because it’s uncomfortable to obsess and I’m looking to relieve myself from it somehow that’s interesting that you guys like that’s different for you and your brains I guess yeah because I can obsess over things and there isn’t an immediate like drive to go get something or they it’s just thoughts that keep rolling around racing around in my head that I can’t necessarily get rid of but okay so they’re like intrusive thoughts right can be yeah don’t they generally tell you to do something or that something’s got to happen in order to avoid some bad outcome well they give me thoughts like over a relationship or they could be over money or they could be over like my career like oh what am I gonna do I mean it doesn’t mean that like they don’t make me immediately want to run and quit my job or immediately want to run and fire some person it’ll just be like obsessive like oh we got this issue going on with this guy and it’s really bugging me and blah blah blah blah I feel like mine are obsessive with the understanding or goal at least that the the relief comes when I solve the problem whatever it is like if it’s I’m obsessing over should I be in this relationship or not I’m still seeking a relief it’s just the solution the answer right right that’s a little bit more that’s not something you can just action and have happen and solve the problem like you have to figure it out I know it’s more abstract right
now right right but it doesn’t have that quick and easy that fix that there’s a quick and easy fix for these Cravings which is the object of your craving that’s an interesting craving part is like that Obsession but it’s like I want something because it’s going to make me feel better like it’s a I feel like I am never so when I’m in that and I’m not saying that everybody’s like this just share mine like when I’m in that should I stay in this relationship or not should I leave this job or not I am very much [ ] miserable trying to solve it because there’s no relief until it is fixed right so in my mind I don’t ever experience the feeling of obsessing about something without the thought of there’s a solution for this and I just need to [ ] get to it like I just need to keep thinking and thinking and thinking so maybe it’s not this immediate thing that I can definitely go grab off a shelf in a store or from a person on a corner or anything but it is definitely like I’m never ever thinking about oh I’m obsessing without the idea of I’m seeking that solution or the quickest fix possible too to it so it’s just it’s fascinating to me that you guys like had the craving is different because I to me they’re very very attached and that just could be my own like constant relief seeking I don’t know so when you’re obsessed over something like leaving the job or the relationship do you like feel it in your body like in your torso like like Sam a craving of food like I just like it’s like my whole body feels that I want chocolate right now does that happen when you obsess over uh like a behavior change or in my mind the best way I can describe it now with the words I understand is like my nervous system gets disregulated and I just get into that sympathetic reaction and even though it’s not the the high level I’m ready to beat somebody up or anything it’s it’s very much this irritability and agitation just through my whole day it just feels like everything’s bad it’s never going to turn out right but it’s not like passive Eeyore it’s like active frustrated Eeyore so that I mean I don’t know the best thing I’ve figured out how to do with that is just stop thinking and I think with the craving though like I don’t know that it seems like it can immediately be a re relieved with the use or consumption of whatever that thing is well yeah like that immediately fixes everything at least that’s the way it feels no no I get that so I’m just thinking back like I feel like that’s why I use drugs it was like I had all the stress of solving all these [ ] problems that I couldn’t in the moment and drugs gave me the relief now and I didn’t have to wait till later to figure out the answers to the problems and so when I got into recovery and I stopped using the drugs I just ended up with the misery of not having the answer to quickly solve it yeah and I mean this is I guess unscientific but that’s for me like in the the recovery language would be the mental and physical aspects of the disease of addiction that’s how they play out it’s like the mental obsessions and then the physical dependency like those two things contribute together to make that obsessive compulsive drive to use I mean it starts with that internal whatever feeling uncomfortable feeling like I need something to make me feel better feeling like I need something to get out of the way you know get out of my feelings or my thoughts and then that rolls over to hey drugs will do that because they work every time well I’m not I’m not arguing oh no no no so maybe we could uh get back on the track of cravings and talking about how we wanted to talk about it I don’t want to divert us too much I just I thought it was interesting I am always the guy who when I’m miserable I’m like yeah there’s a solution for this somewhere God damn it I’m gonna find it um so so go ahead Caroline you had this idea for Cravings what inspired it maybe that’ll help us all kind of get in the place yeah so I mean just kind of thinking about things that I’ve been experiencing recently and and trying to um deal with some behaviors that are that are going on in my life and feeling like it kind of in some ways mirrors this experience of of Cravings um that people probably struggle with in in earlier recovery that I know I struggled with in early recovery and just thinking it would be a good topic to visit because I don’t think you know for for a podcast that is uh pretty focused on recovery topics it seemed relevant and it seemed like you know one that we hadn’t done yet so um so I guess the first thing we kind of talked about is just what are those coping skills if you you know from looking at this kind of more of the traditional sense which is probably for a lot of listeners a substance craving um probably earlier in their recovery Journey what what do we do what did we do that worked for us how did we sit through that how did we um how do we not pick up when we wanted to when everything in US was screaming to pick up how did we and I want to jump back just a little bit earlier in my life to say as I got into drugs early on and I liked the feelings and liked the things that they did for me when I was a young teen like no one in my family was telling me what to do when I wanted to use everyone was just telling me don’t do that it’s wrong just stop but when I would get in those situations like the overwhelming desire to use was there and no one was giving me any information on what they would just say well just don’t do it and I’ll be like I don’t know how you just don’t do it like my whole obsessive and compulsive brain is about I don’t want to feel the way that I’m feeling I want to be high I want to be drunk I want to be whatever and you know it just seemed like everyone would be saying well just stop just don’t do that so I didn’t get any even so I thought I was bro I was like oh something let’s just be wrong with me like I’m just [ ] up I’m just I’m broken whatever you know that thinking was I just thought it was me and I was like well I’ll never be able to not think about it or not want to do it so there’s it felt hopeless yeah and I think that that is um you know as I’ve been thinking about this too I think one of the things is kind of like there’s got to be some level of willingness there I remember um I remember before I got clean this time I would hear people in meetings say like if you want to get high call someone and I remember thinking that’s so dumb because if I want to get high I don’t want someone to talk me out of it so there has to be like some level there’s the desire to stay clean or sober or abstain from whatever the behavior is has to be it has to be like 51 to 49 at least or you’re not going to be willing to take the actions that are suggested to help like there has to be some part of you that really does want to stop or not or not start I feel like and that’s the tricky part right is I mean if we could solve how to get there then we’ve solved addiction maybe um when I can speak at least my experience with drugs some of the other things not so much but with drugs I think it was important to get separation of like that’s why I think the 30-day rehabs and the long-term rehabs are a big deal because there is some like separation of space and time that we need to get out of that lifestyle to get away from those people to get a change of scenery and environment that helps I mean obviously it doesn’t always work but it definitely you know just that 30 60 90 days of of just not using is super I think important early on in recovery yeah I agree that was critical for me I I I couldn’t just stop in my environment I had to be removed from it I adapt pump the brakes a lot of us will have that opinion that like we had to change the environment to find some relief from the drug use but we don’t put together that maybe the drug of the environment is what’s causing the drug use or a big part of what’s contributing to why we’re using and maybe like we could go about solving the problem in a different way if we could look at it that way it can but I think for a lot of people and my experience included is before I got in recovery I had tried geographical changes or moving or changing scenery and you know moved out of my parents and went and lived with my sister like I had tried some of that stuff and it didn’t all that happened you know I took the problem with me to use you know recovery languages like I would find myself in the same situations in new environments and it doesn’t matter when I was at my parents when I was at my sister’s when it was on my own like I just always ended up in the same spot so just the separation from that lifestyle and this was changing states and moving different you know from Cecil County to Baltimore city like it didn’t matter that the change yeah well and I think that makes a lot of sense from a standpoint of like you know changing your physical environment that you can see taste touch smell and hear um but maybe looking a little more at the environment of like safety around you and the connections you have in your environment and like how good do you feel interacting with the people that you interact with and those kind of things like that that level of safety for our nervous system and maybe if we could create that kind of like safe secure nurturing environment that would probably change a lot of what we’re looking at yeah I think that’s what any like hopefully I can’t say that’s what you get but hopefully that’s what treatment centers and early recovery experience are giving you is like connections to Mental Health Resources connections to whatever maybe 12-step fellowships connection to those things because in my life actively use them before any kind of treatment like I just thought oh I want to use so I’m going to use like I didn’t I didn’t have any idea what to do with that I had no idea what made me what caused that drive to use it was just I want to do it so I owe it to myself to do it like that’s what I got to do that’s the only thing that I knew to get rid of that feeling was just to go do it right right I guess it was just coming to me like when Caroline’s saying like we don’t know we didn’t know what to do and you know people if they could solve addiction and all and I was like that detox rehab environment in my mind at least I don’t know how it’s changed in the landscape since I’ve been to one but that does not look like safety that I’m thinking of today right I’m thinking if we could like pluck young Billy or young Jason out of our our active addiction as we call it and put us in a safe stable household it had a family operating that looked pretty healthy and like had some pretty healthy boundaries and like I don’t know man I think within three months the yeah we probably stop using lose the desire to use and find a new way to live not not that we could just go out after three months and be healed and recovered and grown or anything but I think being introduced to that kind of safety over time and this different modeling and like this re-parenting in a corrective way I don’t know how do you do that I mean that’s great yeah but how do you tangibly do that like I feel like in the absence of these Perfect Solutions we have these solutions that we can at least Implement they they aren’t as great but they’re they’re actionable well it’s just like everyone’s treatment experience I mean some kids go to let’s say foster care like you’re taken out of a chaotic environment and put in a foster care and I am sure there are some amazing foster care parents that have just had bad experiences with kids that just weren’t receptive to what they were trying to do you know what I mean they just were like [ __ ] off you know what I mean like I’m just gonna do whatever I mean because it’s not there isn’t an easy one size fits-all solution to trauma there isn’t an easy one-size-fits-all to abuse and neglect you know like what works for one kid isn’t necessarily going to work for another we kind of have some general ideas but and I think it’s the same with Cravings like the craving in the drive to use are very personal and individual you know what each of us is running from or trying to escape like those feelings aren’t the same for everybody they’re very different nobody said it yet but I keep thinking about the simple people places and thing like that they say in the program and my you know I only have one recovery experience um and I just remember like I had I did have the same environment I I didn’t go anywhere like I was put right back in the same environment that cooked me into an alcoholic I guess you could say and um but I did have I started shedding friends over time and and places and environments it’s funny now so I used to work on Route 40 and so you know that was like my commuter location and there’s so many bars like up and down Route 40. work on Route 40 has a very different meaning when you live in Elkton rephrase that no wasn’t that exciting um but I was um so I ended up when I got sober I left that job now when I go to that part of Route 40 there’s like like 20 bars I used to get wasted at and it like it doesn’t make me want to drink it makes me like feel really uncomfortable like but anyway that was like eventually one of those places I had to shut off like um you know like in the people places things I mean is that really simpleton thinking that people place this thing that that was like really sound advice for me in the beginning it was like the best defense is a good offense kind of thinking like just get rid of the environments and things where you drank and I did but I mean I didn’t get rid of my family or home you know the actual structure I live in I’m still in the same place and it’s true believe me there’s sometimes I do shudder at certain things in my neighborhood I’m like oh God like a memory that’s triggered like from back in my tricky days because we have two local bars and I’m like but it’s not like you know it’s not the kind of uh guilt that makes me want to go pick up a drink again but [Music]
oh [Music] so what do we do I think we’ve we’ve talked a lot about what Cravings are and maybe these utopian Solutions but what do we do when we actually want to pick something up to make that feeling stop so for me like it’s been a long time since I’ve had a craving for drugs but there can be like in different say like times I’ve tried to do different uh healthy eating practices like sugar is one it’s like when I’m eating sugar or getting into patterns of behavior like I can start craving like I want to have ice cream before bed every night I want to have cereal before I go to bed every night and like really not knowing what to do with that so I think finding a way to break the habits I use the same things that were explained to me early in recovery it’s like you know like Jenny said kind of change people places and things and in the case of like eating at night it might not be that but it might be getting into like a different practice like I’m gonna eat something healthy earlier at like seven o’clock instead of waiting till I get to bed and be hungry and have that craving um but changing the people places and things changing those patterns of Behavior Uh was a big one for me too like that’s and something I still use now like I still use the same [ __ ] that was explained to me early in recovery to deal with like obsessive thinking or Cravings that I get now you know what it’s funny when you brought this topic up um recently I had a craving for a cigarette because I used to smoke cigarettes too like an overwhelming like oh my God I really want to smoke a cigarette like so I quit smoking before I quit drinking thank God because if I quit I probably would have still be smoking if I waited on that one but um um it was that that whole body like oh my God I want a cigarette and what I had to think about was like what do I really want I had to think behind the craving um what I really wanted was the ritual break like sit down on the porch and chill for a minute and so I actually gave myself that because it passes Cravings pass and if anybody’s in early recovery who gets like overcome by Cravings you gotta know they just pass you know it’s it’s a thought and I know you feel it in your whole body but I guess knowing that the craving will pass just kind of do something to distract yourself like when I was quitting smoking um smoking in the car was big so I would uh won’t always have something to drink something cold and like I don’t know Sensational like bubbly or whatever um and I would sing like I would sing at the top of my lungs in the car just to like get me over the craving because it’s your mouth too you used to smoke with your mouth so singing with your mouth like and I would sing until I was like a horse so that that helped me get over smoking cigarettes
nobody else was in the car so that was helpful it was like commuting to and from work I was so used to smoking cigarettes but um craving when I was getting over drinking first of all I think I had just terrified myself so much with drinking that in the first couple months there were no Cravings to drink because I was I’d like scared myself you know almost to death um but nowadays if I have a craving for alcohol it’s usually after something super stressful like taking my daughter to the doctors like me my daughter’s disabled and it’s taking her to the doctors is kind of super stressful and when I’m done that that’s when I want to drink or taking her to the dentist oh my God so what I do is I I know it’s going to pass and so sometimes I do different things I still go for like a cold drink like a shocking drink um uh and fitness like I’ll go for a walk or like go do like a vigorous yoga I don’t know what you’d call that but like something that like just kind of shakes my body up and then it passes and I think that’s that’s always been my go-to is like moving around um you know maybe maybe it looks like um obsessive house cleaning but what it really is is just moving around like just getting the heart rate up and moving all my limbs and it kind of shakes the craving out of me yeah I think that’s a good one to exercise and I think we probably talked a little bit about that in our exercise episode um just that you know I can really help change your family I mean it’s like on a chemical level it’s changing the way you feel so um I think that can be really helpful one thing that came up to me Johnny as you were talking was just like in in early recovery and it wasn’t so much a way of dealing with the Cravings in the moment but it was something that buffered me from them when they would come up was that I had created an environment for myself where um the consequences of using were pretty dire so I was in a recovery house um in early recovery so one of the things that would help me when I would want to use was the knowledge that like if I use x y and z are going to happen I’m going to get caught I’m going to get kicked out of this recovery house I’m in Harford County Maryland with no car I have nowhere to go like and and some of just those kind of external boundaries um were were helpful and kind of like just helping me to sit still through the feeling instead of actioning it because I knew um you know I was about to make my life really really difficult if I if I picked up yeah and I think the way I remember that was they would say playing the tape all the way through you know and Jenny reminded me something of this when when I quit smoking I had put a rubber band on my wrist and when I would start to like have Obsession to want to smoke I would snap the rubber bit man not real hard it wasn’t like I was trying to torture myself but it was like the idea was like associating that thought with a negative consequence and then in recovery it’s the same thing like we start to play that tape all the way through like what happens if I use what you know what I gotta remember like all this negative shit’s gonna come as a result of that or most likely to come as a result of that and I think that’s really important for us to kind of think through that immediate gratification that using is going to give us most of the time yeah and I I mean I brought it up earlier kind of in in just a little bit the the idea of like if you want to use call someone and kind of talking about how I thought that was so dumb but I will say once I got to a point where my desire to stay clean slightly outweighed my desire to get high calling people certainly did help um you know talking to other people in early recovery or talking to my sponsor um even if it was just simply the distraction to get me away from that thought for a little while um or if they actually had like really good advice either way that was that was something that was that was useful in the moment to to get me through it yeah definitely and sometimes for me that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m gonna call somebody and be like hey I’m having an obsession to use or I’m having an obsession over this or that it’s just calling someone to get to break up that pattern of obsession that’s going on in my head um just calling to have a conversation maybe with my sponsor or somebody else in recovery hey what’s going on you guys doing anything you know just just to try to get out of that I mean nowadays I’m a little more comfortable just like if I call my sponsor and say hey I’m really like obsessing about this or I’m really thinking about this or you know I’m having a craving I’m more comfortable with that now but early on you know I might not have been and just breaking up that thinking sometimes by reaching out to another person or calling somebody you know going doing something with my kids you know that can help as well to get out of that obsessive thinking listening to this podcast then just you know a good good engaging distraction I think the phone call too serves an underlying need is like so I’m craving say I’m craving alcohol you know what what I’m really craving is probably nurturing some kind of sore feelings and the connection the phone call actually or the text or whatever serves it’s just connecting to another human being like I agree with you too it breaks up the thought pattern but sometimes I just need to be seen or like reach out to someone like just feel a little love for a minute and I think that’s that’s the value in the phone call because I did not want to call people in the beginning either and thank God I was in a I was in an outpatient group that they were like the counselor was like you have to call but everybody was like seriously you can just text me like they want it you know like the counselor was like you have to call each other and report back but everybody had this agreement it’s fine we could just text but that worked it served you know like my need and just just reaching out and being seen just like I’m I’m hurting right now I get it man I see you like that that’s all it was we didn’t have to talk about the craving it was nurturing what really was hurting so if I put my Json hat on for a moment I like the facial expression I get when I say that uh Jason mustache
um I would say that a lot of this is nervous system dysregulation and then now I’m gonna turn the floor over to Jason because I don’t know what I would say beyond that I didn’t feel welcomed when I had input I’m very sorry about that Jason I like your input it’s kind of why was reluctant or hesitant to do this episode like I don’t want to give my theory and then hear well that’s a utopian idea we don’t want healthy life and world we just operate over this is what it sounds like to me right we’re all using asbestos as the material we build the whole world with and we’re like hey this asbestos is causing cancer and and we’re like and I’m like hey we could probably just try to get rid of the Asbestos and do something different and we’re all like no no that’s ridiculous that’s the utopian idea we just got to operate Within These confines of using asbestos as best we can and I’m like well okay but every time we say that we all stop talking about fixing anything and I don’t know where to go from there yeah I mean that’s fair I guess with the example that you gave about putting people that are struggling with whatever it is in a safe home family environment I struggle to wrap my head around where are those and how are there enough of them for even a fraction of the people that need the help well and that’s fair right and in the way it looks outside on this uh lovely July 16th rainy morning in Maryland right in 2023 there’s not and I get that but maybe if we knew that was the solution maybe more people would be willing to do that right like ideally adopt an addict ideally the people that loved this addict and just can’t figure out what happened and went wrong could adjust their own family of origin to be that right family to live with and change and heal you know but even so I may be just as a collective of humans if we knew that the actual problem was that these people weren’t loved enough and that’s why they’re dying in the thousands all the time right would we [ ] change and make that a priority instead of whatever else we do in our day I don’t know well I guess a question for me would be because I have an opinion and I think might be different or maybe not is do you think that healthy people have cravings do you think that healthy and when I say healthy I mean like emotional people that aren’t maybe even addicts that aren’t you know that are in decent relationships with decent upbringings I mean nobody has a perfect life so obviously the perfect person you know maybe is good but do you think that like healthy people have cravings or obsessions for unhealthy things uh yes the the the feeling the experience that we are talking about today I believe that happens for all people in some level of intensity depending on what we’ve gone through yeah and maybe I guess the way I would think of it is that healthy people or people with healthy upbringings innately have the tools what to do with that stuff whereas me with maybe not the best upbringing doesn’t have the tools to deal with that is that fair to say I’ll go with that so for someone that doesn’t have a good upbringing what are some things we can do like say that’s where I get back to like I had to learn those things from people in recovery had to explain basic [ ] to me like hey it’s okay to express your feelings if you have a feeling of doing something that’s maybe not that healthy it’s okay to talk about that that doesn’t make you a bad person or a horrible human being and that’s the way I felt about myself right right no no and I remember my first sponsor like I remember one time I was going through something and I used this call somebody method and it was him or whatever and it I felt better I worked and whatever and it was early on and it was amazing to me and I called him and told him about it no it wasn’t him I called I guess it was somebody else and I called him and told him about the experience I was like dude you’ll never believe this I had a craving or Obsession or whatever and I called somebody and I talked and it went away and it was [ ] wild and I was like happy with myself and like also just amazed that that [ ] worked because I didn’t think it would and he was like it’s incredible and I was like yeah and he’s like no it’s incredible that it takes us so long and we get here and we hear this from somebody in a meeting and we think it’s all this new [ ] and normal people do this every day and I was like oh yeah that is kind of incredible so yeah yeah I get it we don’t have it but I guess for me and you know I I feel like I just keeps saying the same thing and it’s it’s kind of like all this is nervous system just regulation everything we’re calling an obsession or a compulsion or a craving it’s all a nervous system dysregulation based around a story in our head and our own stories are actually the thing cueing the danger in our nervous system which is why we can’t [ ] stop it and like what we need to do is find a way to change our entire environment that changes our internal environment to a safer one one that’s less cued less keyed up less ready to see the the blowing Leaf outside your house as a step 11 threat you know on your household Invasion or something right it’s not like setting off these red glaring [ ] lights and sounds all the time and the only way I know how to do that is to work with somebody who’s got a calmer nervous system or be a part of a family where there’s people modeling this common nervous system and how to do it and like without that I I don’t know we’re really selling ourselves short yeah and that’s where I think like and again it’s taken me however many years 20 years to figure out like oh some basic healthy living things actually helped me calm my nervous you know things like exercise eating better avoiding sort of sugar and caffeine not that I necessarily avoid caffeine but I limit myself now more than ever because I’m aware like hey if I drink seven cups of coffee in a day like my whole nervous system and everything’s ramped up to 11. you know and starting to do like healthier behaviors and now you know with you’re like I don’t know that I have specifically what I would call Cravings nowadays whereas like weird thoughts you know what I’ll say weird thoughts maybe unhealthy thoughts or a drive to do something that’s probably going to cause some you know unmanageability in my life and I’m not so overwhelmed by it but that’s because I’ve put some things in in practice to avoid those situations but early in recovery I needed someone to give me some basic directions on hey call somebody hey play the tape through hey you know change people places and things identify your triggers like know what situations you tend to find yourself really uncomfortable or really unmanageable or really obsessive about [ ] avoid those situations and that seemed like such uh Monumental information in the beginning that is so basic to life you know now it’s the kind of [ ] you know it’s like oh duh that seems so obvious right like boundaries nobody ever talked to me about boundaries until I got in recovery and I’m like what are you talking about you know like I didn’t even know the concept of it it was like well it’s come my way I must have to deal with it nope not always I guess what I feel like you guys are saying though is like the way I understand this is while our survival brain is is that reactive and while our nervous system is keyed up and and that’s kind of how we’re living 24 hours a day because of the stories of all the things that are never going to be right for us right we got that peace in our head attacking us all day long saying how we’re going to fail and every way we go is going to be a bad path and there’s no right answer because all of them have a drawback and all that bullshit’s going on and during that we don’t have access to all of our logical brain right in varying levels of intensity that gets shut down as the nervous system is trying to Keep Us Alive because that’s the only important part and so in in my mind what you’re saying is over the course of like 20 years I my finally started to calm down enough to get these Concepts and be able to logically just change and shift my Approach but man what if we could calm people down in the first [ ] year and they could start that in year two right like I just I this is available I think like it we’re just not doing it we’re just not looking at this like when we can calm our body all this logic [ ] seems easy in fact I don’t even think we need to teach people much once they calm down it kind of becomes intuitive like AA says It’s amazing I don’t know about that I mean yeah I don’t know about that but I I just I feel like the recovery scene is moving there so I used to host a meeting at um the RCA I don’t know if I’m allowed to say people’s names but um their program there they had a lot of those calming things like um therapy or yeah like it was a residential place you would stay like 30 or 90 days and they had you know all of it like um like Reiki massage and like um they had like a cafe where you could go hang out on the campus like that look like a public Cafe and um they’re adopting what you’re talking about and they’re I think they’re a newer treatment program so I think the the world of recovery is going that way of course it’s limited by money that is that’s a high-end place that’s also and I’m not sure so I don’t know much about RCA I’m not gonna sit here and try to bash them or talk good about I don’t really know I’ve never been there myself but from people I know who have talked to me who have worked there um it feels like uh they’re describing from their point of view on the job that like none of the it used to be I guess when I went to detox and Rehab like you weren’t allowed to lay in your bed all day you had to go to so many meetings a day and all these different programs and that was just part of the the you know what you had to do there in order to stay and like RCA had apparently switched to a completely voluntary thing where everybody could just lay in their bed all day and watch TV and play on their phone if they wanted I guess or I don’t know if the phone was there but it was definitely TVs and like that didn’t feel it felt like they were very much isolating allowed to choose to isolate themselves and that’s what most people were doing because it was too awkward to be around others and so those are being available is awesome to come but I don’t I to me it takes that person right and that you can’t stick 40 people in a place that looks like a hospital or a prison and have a couple of Staff members and expect that to be calming and you know productive to reprogram their nervous systems like that’s not what’s gonna do it now are they petting a horse and working one-on-one with somebody who can remind them that they’re good it inside every time they’re [ ] feeling terrible that’s a really useful thing that’d be great yeah and it’s just like therapists I mean you know you might have to go to Five therapists to find one that you really relate to that communicates in a way that’s good for you that really works for you so like you said to have I think they have 80 people in that place to have 80 people in that place and two therapists like what are the odds that that’s going to be a good fit for each of them for all of those people understaffed I didn’t know it’s not necessarily that it’s understaffed but it’s it’s say with most of this stuff with trauma counseling or therapy or even CBT like the idea that a one size fits all is going to address each person’s needs is just unrealistic we all come from different backgrounds and traumas and and experiences and I think individualized uh treatment is really I think what would work better I mean but how do we do that on a mass scale when you have educate the public and I mean that’s something we were talking about voices you’re doing more of an education the public thing because people don’t know people just see like they other the people on addiction but if they’re educated on what it really is and how to interact and treat people you know it seems like kindergarten [ ] like we should all know this stuff intuitively but we have so many things that have blocked it and layered it and like made it competitive and it’s like oh well you’re the problem so [ ] you well I mean just back to the utopian ideas of stuff like I think all the time like why are we not teaching people about mental health like early on in education why are public schools not addressing like hey guess what your feelings matter it’s okay to express you know thoughts and ideas and things that might be unconventional well it’s happening it’s starting slowly I mean there is like they do have like a I mean a routine a a relatively often like health class where they talk about feelings and ha and meditation how about that do we do we mention that as a craving blog uh some way to cope with craving um but they’re they are addressing it like as a legit uh subject I guess in elementary schools you know just that idea like when I was when I when I am not when I was when I am caught up in like a craving or whatever like that thought feels like it’s never going to go away until I use that thing and sometimes just the awareness that you know from meditation is like hey this is just a thought I don’t have to act on it it will eventually go away this isn’t going to be forever like you know just knowing that sometimes can help a little bit and then it’s like okay all right I don’t have to like stay stuck here what can I do differently like just giving myself that few minutes to not feel like oh my God if I don’t do this thing you know this is never going to go away [Music] oh [Music] that’s where meditation has helped me too it like it separates it like it’s like oh that’s just a passing thought like it’s often compared to a cloud in the sky like passing by but yeah just that knowledge and by practicing meditation I can trust the process it I’ve seen it happen it is a cloud that just passes by and this one’s going to pass by too and what if what do we say I guess to the person where it’s not passing by whether it as a notification on your phone from that messaging app from that [ ] that won’t leave you alone that you wish would stop texting you that you’re almost on the verge of blocking right that’s what your thought is and then swipe that [ ] away but what if you what if you yeah
what if you swipe it away 80 times an hour for two days then you need a new technique yeah so so what do we say to I mean do we think that that’s not a thing or I mean what do we say to the person who’s tried everything that we’re talking about and it’s just Relentless okay so meditation is a practice that takes time to cultivate and learn and feel good about and I feel like most of my practice of meditation has been undoing the way the world has helped me view myself which is from a negative standpoint first right so I I meditate and I and I forget that I’m meditating and I’m thinking and I’m all out in left [ ] field and then I’m angry at myself when I remember because I’m like God damn it I’m not meditating again what the hell is wrong with me right and it’s trying to change that over to this idea of like every time I catch myself is a joy oh [ ] yeah I remember it again that’s awesome check me out look at me go I remembered five times in this three minute meditation right whatever but before that I think the more useful thing that people could learn probably first is an active breathing technique right because an active breathing technique takes some of your mind to concentrate on the actions of the breathing and focus there which is going to take it away from your focus elsewhere and I think if we could convince people to do five to ten minutes of active breathing technique when they are having any craving and I thought of a funny one when Billy was saying uh you know I can’t think of many that I have today and I was thinking yeah I don’t I can’t think of any craving situations either but I got one right the craving in an argument to respond right when they’re saying something and you gotta get that you gotta defend yourself yeah that [ ] craving’s a beast right you tried singing oh oh well I’ve tried active breathing that’s for sure so if you want an active breathing technique there’s a really interesting one I learned it’s kind of [ ] awful but it works really well because it takes your active attention you take a full breath all the way the [ ] right all the way in full breath and then you stop and then you take in a little more I don’t know if you’ve ever tried it but it’s a weird little process you can get this extra little right before you blow everything out right and then you blow it out in a sigh really slowly right do that for five to ten minutes and tell me if you’re still thinking or feeling whatever the [ ] you were thinking or feeling going in lay down in your bed and do it make it comfy right pull the covers over make yourself warm and snuggled and [ ] and then see how you feel I’d be curious and it’s funny you say that about sighing just slightly different like I’ve I’ve learned with when I’m feeling real anxious or have a lot of anxiety like I actually do a thing that’s like ah heavy sigh and I’ll do that like three times because I’ve learned like sighing is a way of like a release of like ah this pin up energy that’s funny yeah that’s like science practice and yoga too okay I generally start my meditations with three deep size because it’s just kind of like compresses your body down yeah but yeah it’s I mean I would say that’s a really good way to actively take your focus away from the thing you’re on put it back on your breathing your moment right like cultivating this over time usually what I’m telling myself is there’s a story in here that I’m talking about some other time and place what’s going on right now what’s the temperature in this room is there a breeze on me do I like it is it on my skin like I start bring and that’s what’s really really gotten me help is being here right here right now just sitting here with y’all right it’s quiet when nobody talks people are smiling at me there’s warm faces like right here feels good right but when I get in the story of like Caroline says oh that’s the Utopia and I’m like oh here we go again right the story here we go again because I have a lot of that in my history but let me come back here and I don’t know I’m gonna keep saying it but that’s what’s wrong and you bring up a good like not to get too off of that but also like environments matter like if I find myself at let’s say it’s a wedding or a place where people are using and I’ve decided to be there and I start thinking oh this looks fun everybody looks like they’re having a good time this looks really healthy like this could be safe like I gotta get myself out of there I gotta change that situation I gotta and sometimes that’s just leaving like you know for my wife and I like we’ve had a thing where we’ve gone to concerts or we’ve gone to weddings or like my family events my family a lot of them drink and use and it’s we go early because we know by later people are going to start to get intoxicated and it’s gonna start to look fun and it’s gonna you know it’s gonna present a certain way which you know gets me going so we go early and leave early um but giving myself an out making it okay to be like I don’t have to be here I don’t have to stay in this situation and that can be the same in an argument or a situation where I’m you know at work in a confrontation with somebody to say Hey look I gotta go we’ll talk about this at another time and separating myself from that immediate emotional you know whatever anxiety or high and and in my mind what’s happening there like just thinking about that idea of how I can feel lonely in such a large group of people when I’m there right it’s not about how many people are around it’s about my level of feeling safe with any one of them and if I don’t know them and they’re a large crowd or or the ones I do know are kind of busy and I can’t like at a wedding right you get involved because you know the bride and groom but they’re [ ] busy the whole time so you’re just kind of sitting there and what I’m seeing is look at all these people out there who feel connected and safe when I’m over here feeling like I’m not good enough to be liked I’m separate I’m excluded right so like if I can be in that environment where I have that safe one or two people or even more than that a community of safety I’m not gonna be reaching out for this connection because I already have it and I guess that’s just just thinking about that even with the argument idea right I don’t feel like I’m in a safe place which is why I feel so much like I need to defend myself again whereas like one of the biggest diffusers and arguments that I use with my wife now is like when she gets a little dysregulated I’m like hey you’re safe here like I love you and I want what’s best for you too right because it’s hard to argue when somebody’s telling you that and it’s weird so and it’s just took me to a different place like most of the time my desire to use now seems to come in more positive experiences like when when it looks like say like at a wedding where everybody looks like they’re having fun and it’s a good time and people are dancing like they all look like they’re having fun and a great time why can’t I do that healthy why do I gotta be this person that I can’t use that’s why I’m where I’m at because why am I not having fun right that’s why I got here like I gotta have fun too and that I don’t know I don’t know what all that is but yeah I’m with you came to these places not overnight this is like decades plus of reviewing Your Own Story your own habits your own how you got here like so beating Cravings part of that is knowing your knowing your own story so self-reflection is what I’m getting at I think everybody in recovery needs to spend a decent amount of time on self-reflection um you can’t just like come to it nobody gets like burning bush you know like messages you just you have to work on it I’m laughing hysterically because that reminds me of uh I just replayed our ego episode recently which is hilarious to me because it’s you know well and and so relatable for me I guess just because ego is one of those things I’ve used to cope with the way I feel about myself for most of my life but like you saying that made me think yes it’s taken me a lot of years to get here but God damn it if I’d had me with my knowledge back then teaching me it wouldn’t have taken me so long and it made me it reminded me I thought the same thing when my mother was teaching me to drive stick like after I figured out how to drive it I’m like God if they could have just explained it this way I’d have had it three months ago if everybody thought like me the world would be great well no but I I do think there’s something to this though yes did it take me a long time to get to this understanding of myself yes but I think with some some better guide guiding and some better questioning of me and some better exploration I probably could have got here in much less time I really do think that and see that’s where I get back to the like this one size fits all like one counselor isn’t going to be the counselor to fix everybody’s addiction they could be a great counselor for certain people that have had certain experiences that can relate that can communicate even in a certain way but it’s just we just don’t relate to each other as human beings exactly the same like we’re all so different
that’s all I got
I got what do you like how are you beating cravings oh I don’t I’m not come on you’re like 18 years without drugs right and alcohol well what are you doing so I will say I’m very fortunate that it’s been a really really long time since I’ve had like a substantial craving for a substance um probably so when my husband was using and acting out like there were some periods in there where it was like things got really bad and I found myself wanting to pick up um but that was the first time in probably like 10 years so I’ve been really fortunate that that’s just not something that I really have to struggle with these days but in other areas of my life I’m doing [ ] and abstaining from from cravings and and behaviors that I shouldn’t be acting out on so yeah I mean I I you know this this for me was a little bit selfish too just in kind of hearing what you guys have to say and you know Paul’s checking it against what I have been trying and seeing if I come up with new new methods the the reason and I think that it kind of doesn’t I don’t say it doesn’t make sense to talk about Cravens but it feels warped for me is that my understanding is we were we were little kids right you’re four years old you’re six years old you’re eight years old you’re living this life your body is coming up with these needs and it doesn’t know how to say that you need things because we don’t know what the [ ] we need we’re kids right and our parents didn’t get taught what they needed so they don’t even recognize that these things that we are our body is saying we need they don’t know what the [ ] they are they have no clue so our bodies are telling us we need something we’re little kids getting what we need in the ways little kids get what they need Scream and yelling being angry throwing stuff whatever Tantrums right and our parents don’t know how to meet those needs because they don’t even know what the [ ] they are so they just start giving us what we want right that settles us that brings relief in the moment but over time it creates a body that doesn’t know how to meet its own needs except to fill it up with things at once in the moment that provide quick relief which sounds an awful lot like [ ] addiction doesn’t it putting once in place where our body is calling for needs because we don’t know what the needs are and so in my mind like what we got to do is understand that that’s what’s happening understand that this craving but you can’t understand logically why your nervous system is still [ ] escalated so somehow we got to calm that down and then logically get to this place where we feel safe enough often enough that we can say I don’t want to put the need I mean the wants in front of the needs I need to stop giving myself these once that give me short-term relief but ultimately aren’t benefiting me that thing we call instant gratification right and I need to stop long enough to realize what it is my body needs maybe I don’t need to argue with my spouse tonight to go through this long argument to get a hug at the end when we make up maybe I can just tell them I got a need for intimate touch and I need to hug them more right like we got to start learning these things and then from there once you know that you don’t want to do that anymore I see what I’m doing now I don’t want to do that I want to nurture my body what does it need because the question we keep not asking is why the [ ] are we craving things in the first place what’s missing that we need the we have this feeling of I need to go grab these things for this relief why aren’t we already okay and that’s I think why I agree with all that but I just I guess I don’t know when you’re in the process of trying to get from knowing that you have some needs that you’re not sure of what they are and figuring out what those needs are we’re going to be in a place of having like we’re going to want to Resort back to the old thing that like I know this works like I don’t know what else is going to fix this but I definitely know this at least for now works and what do we do in that interim period like you’d mentioned like some breathing and stuff like that but it’s like what do we do in that interim because it’s taken me almost my whole life to figure out like oh [ ] this is why I have these issues you know from my childhood this is why I have these uh maybe issues of Abandonment neglect whatever you know but it’s taken a lot of work to get there and in that process I’ve made a lot of mistakes and reacted on some you know cravings and impulsive thinking not record you know because it just took the work to get there right so in my mind in that moment when the nervous system is dysregulated telling you you need that [ ] now to live because that’s what’s happening in survival right that’s the problem right it’s not all the slightly calmer moments in between those Cravings that you’re really desperate to use that’s not really the issue in that moment it’s the the moments that would actually take you to doing the thing and then that point the only thing we really can do is just calm our body down you got to get your logic back online to do anything but I’m saying once we can establish that we have control of that dysregulation and we know exactly what the [ ] to do and generally as long unless it’s a huge one it only takes us 10 minutes and we’re confident in that that feels safe I now feel confident that I can nurture my body and I don’t have to be that inner child doesn’t have to be as scared anymore right because I’m the adult showing up to take care of it and from there when I say intuitively we’ll figure it out or we’ll know it’s because once all the the [ ] is out of the way that keeps making our good plans not work our [ ] good plans will work they actually will we’ll be able to follow through with all those great intentions we had that we couldn’t understand why we kept getting deviated and like when things don’t work we’ll have the logic online and we’ll just adapt and change it and make it work because it’s way [ ] easier when you’re not dysregulated all the time that’s I just I think it’ll work so I don’t know that there is a like a middle step it’s mostly just if you can believe I think most people are always in the middle stuff well yeah I guess but it’s like if you can believe that this is what’s going on then you can understand how you contend to yourself and then from there it’s just okay well maybe I can do some research I’ll Google what are the [ ] needs what people what do people need I don’t know we’re only told about like food and shelter and [ ] and safety right but what about like emotional safety what about like right you know intimate support what about intimate touch like all these other things and there’s probably a list of like 30 of them I don’t know what the [ ] they are like when we start investigating and start just giving myself something what works for most humans right A lot of people when they can’t get a hug from somebody else wrap themselves in a blanket and drink a warm tea or something simulate it you know and maybe that’s why some of that recovery type stuff works because you’re going to a community of like-minded people that help you feel supported you know in our fellowship you’re getting a bug you’re you know having someone that says yeah I know how you feel it’s okay you know that kind of support and nurturing like you you can get that in those environments for some people yeah not maybe I think definitely like you preface that with maybe but I think that that’s huge I think that’s a big part of it and Jason you use the word intuitively like in what you’re talking about and I think that’s a part too like the clues are there if you can slow down enough the intuitive Clues will tell you where to go to get what you need you just gotta slow down and and be open to them and look for them I think I think a lot of us in addiction got so far from our natural intuitive abilities maybe they should start teaching that in elementary school I think I think intuition personally is what our DNA code is actually telling us to do because animals out in the wild don’t ever question how to hunt or what they they just they’re born and they know and like we’re born and we know some [ ] too that’s good for us and how to live but none of it generally matches the way we’re living in 2023 in our heads well I don’t know how it connects to like I’ve always thought of myself and maybe I’m Different maybe I’m not but I have like an obsessive brain like I obsess about a lot of things not always bad stuff it can be Sports it can be you know healthy stuff it can be the gym diet whatever and I’ll like start oh I’m gonna learn about this new diet and then all of a sudden it’s like I’m reading everything I’m watching 27 videos I’m trying to like you know and it just becomes this weird Obsession right and I I mean I don’t know I’ve never thought of that as like my nervous system is dysregulated I just think well that’s the way my brain works and it’s like the meditation part and the breathing part is what’s helped me manage those aspects of my obsession I feel like it’s the ultimate Buddhist question what happens if you don’t do that right what happens if you have that feeling of wanting to be into that thing and don’t read the 27 articles then what happens that’s where the Curiosity starts right that’s where the self-exploration of like what the underlying thing is that drives this Behavior comes from because if we don’t do it long enough we’ll either put something in its place to cover it up or it’ll come the [ ] up but like that’s the thing we’re using to cope with it so I I don’t know I guess I look at it differently I look at that as not that there’s something wrong with you but just that’s how you’ve established how to get through your life and if you want to stop that stop and see what happens yeah and I get comfort in yourself I want to do that by saying I guess for me sometimes digging into the why isn’t as helpful as figuring out just what to do with this when it’s happening yeah and I can deal with the why I’m doing it when I’m in a healthier State like when I’m in a better place I can start looking a little deeper but in the moment I gotta figure out what the [ ] to do with that I I think for me it was just really important that I addressed the fact that I believed all my thinking was really important and I actually had to like take that out of my head and like reprogram because like there would be times my kids are talking and I’m like mad because they’re distracting me from the thoughts in my head that I think are way more important like figuring out what I got to do with my rest of my day or reminding myself I gotta run to the store or what and like I had to remind like oh this is dumb [ ] what does my kid saying man tell me about that [ ] Roblox game that I give a [ ] less about come on let me hear about it and I want to listen like and I agree I feel like it just took me years of meditation to try to get there I didn’t get here overnight
um I heard this one recently I heard that I’m not saying I believe it but I’ve been tooling around with it in my head anxiety is an addiction to mental stimulation and so we’ve mentioned before we’ve mentioned before that me and you Billy are the anxious ones on the show and I can tend to obsess too it’s actually I love that about you like I’m like oh it’s Billy obsessing over now I think it’s a really cool personality trait um but and I see it myself like recently uh like I had plenty to do plenty of household responsibilities Summer’s Here both my kids need to be like whatever entertain but yet I’m obsessing over this new story I saw you know like what am I doing it was like kind of an Escapist thing I was like is this an addiction is my am I escaping responsibilities with a mental stimulation addiction you know because I was filling my time with uh podcasts and uh documentary and reading article and audiobook and like so well I look at it as like I crave knowledge so but that can be an obsession in and of itself and when I’m spending all that energy there I’m also neglecting energy to spend in other places and that might be my relationship my family more important things than learning all about the injustices of the Criminal Justice System
yeah I think of anxiety as trying to figure out how I’m going to possibly get through intolerable future and past situations in my life but I don’t understand the that I don’t currently have the ability to get through which is every [ ] future and past situation right now because I can’t do them right now so it’s just like this it’s almost like I can protect myself now because you can’t hurt me if I’m figuring out how to keep you from hurting me three weeks from now yeah well like I said I’ve been trying this out so anytime I felt anxious if I think about it as like Jenny are you addicted to mental stimulation you know do you really need to be obsessing over this right now and I put aside like any time so I’m just testing it out like test driving it seeing if I like it I don’t know we’re about a time maybe I got more coping Craven Obsession thoughts no I think there’s some things you can do in the immediate moment when you have cravings I would say call somebody breathing exercises play the tape through and then there’s some things you can do that will help in the long term like exercise better diet maybe counseling mental health therapy meetings you know whatever’s going to help you put yourself in a good situation to have supports and and people around that will be there for you when you need it what he said yeah yeah and I mean I like I put a routine in place to prevent the Cravings from coming and that way you’ll be ready to do battle when it’s time yeah I would just move exercise over to the immediate things you can do in the admitted moment I think it’s good for both but it definitely can be one that can help you also practice sitting with the feeling of want like totally I do that from time to time I’m like what’s it like to experience the feeling of what yeah and I guess I lumped that into the meditation yeah but yes that’s that’s part of it I’m like oh I want ice cream tonight what’s it like to want ice cream it feels interesting to fantasize about right um I’m gonna title this craving comma Obsession comma coping comma killing it and it’s going to spell out [ ] oh my God all right have a good week
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