Even though you may not be aware of what caused your craving, the fact is there was a trigger. The trigger could have been as fleeting as an aroma of perfume coming from a woman you pass on the street or a passing car you hear playing just a few notes of a song. We are so busy in our thoughts and observations that seemingly unimportant things go consciously unnoticed. But truly, they are not unimportant to your conscious mind and do not go unnoticed. Nothing escapes the subconscious.

So there you are having a fine time, feeling great, maybe some good clean time under your belt, and whammo . . . out of the blue, you have a big craving because whatever your conscious mind missed, your subconscious mind recognized as a trigger.

There are several things you can activate to gain control. First, expect a sudden craving to happen to you. It’s not the end of the world, and it is part of addiction and part of recovery, part of your life. Being forewarned that a sudden craving might happen keeps you from not being completely blindsided. Expecting something to happen eliminates the element of surprise. Surprise can be breathtaking and catch you so totally unaware, you are unable to respond quickly and correctly. So expect cravings. Second, start paying attention to how you feel.

You may not know why you feel a certain way, but be assured there is a reason. Again, your conscious mind has been bypassed. Put labels on your feelings. Ask yourself if this feeling has been a prerequisite to using in the past. Remind yourself that the addicted part of your mind will tell you it knows how to end the craving. “Use,” it implores you, “and the craving ends.” You are being lied to. If you give in and use, the craving will only end for a short time and come roaring back, wanting more and more and more. You know this.

What to do? Right away, recognize which part of your brain is speaking. The addict part of your brain is speaking. Your entire brain is not addicted. That’s right—your entire brain is not addicted. Remember you are more than an addict. You are a thinking, feeling, intelligent person who happened to get hooked. You are regaining choice, and so you are able to choose to listen to the part of your brain that is not addicted. You have every ingredient needed to beat this. Wait the craving out. It passes. It is a time-limited event. Get busy. Do something.

Call someone. Take a walk. Take a shower. Jump rope. Sing a song.

You get the idea. Distract. Demand of yourself what is good for you. Discard what is bad. Never give in. Giving in is an invitation for a repeat performance that you know will be coming. Guaranteed. But every time you win, you win. The win is registered in your mind. It counts, and trust me, something inside is counting and paying attention. Something inside is always listening, processing. Speak well to yourself.

Speak strong to yourself. It matters. You matter.