This is a slightly amended response of mine to a post in the Facebook Alcohol Explained group about cravings. I thought it was worth sharing a bit more widely:
Don’t forget what a ‘craving’ is. It is you, fantasising about how nice it would be to have a drink. It is a conscious thought process that you are going through. Above all it is FANTASY, it is not REALITY. It is a highly romaticised, utterly distorted, version of reality. A craving it simply thinking about only the good parts of something, and exaggerating those good parts shamelessly. When you find yourself thinking about drinking don’t FANTASISE about it. Just think about the reality. Think about the actual reality of what would happen if you had a drink.
Firstly you’d have a feeling of bitter disappointment that you’d failed once again to stop. Secondly you’d have a slightly dull feeling as the alcohol took hold. Then you’d have a nervous, anxious feeling as it wore off. Then you’d face a simple choice of two. Either have another drink to get rid of that unpleasant, anxious feeling caused by the first, and and end up increasingly intoxicated. The only other option it to suffer this unpleasant feeling for several hours while it gets worse and worse. Either choice would lead you to a sleepless night of anxiety, then a following day of anxiety, exhaustion, and guilt; a day spent agonising about whether to have another drink to take the edge of the anxiety, exhaustion and guilt caused by yesterday’s drinking. And so it would go on, either forever, or until you made the effort to break the cycle all over again.
When you get a craving you don’t need to use a gimmick, or con yourself, or suffer it, or give in to it. Just look at the actual reality of it. Think of a sexual fantasy. For example you may look at someone at work and fantasise about sleeping with them. But if they made a pass at you, you’d run a mile because you would no way betray your partner, hurt them, and risk losing them and your children. You may not have children, or a partner, but I hope you can still appreciate the analogy.
FANTASY and REALITY are different. A craving is simply fantasising. You can short circuit it by forcing yourself to face the reality.