Substance misuse

What you can do right now for substance misuse

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Practical things you can do manage cravings in the moment

If you’re in crisis, contact Lifeline, or if your life is in danger, call 000.

Substance misuse can be very challenging to face, and taking the first few steps is likely to be difficult. However, the most important thing is being willing to try.

If things feel difficult at first, it’s important to not feel discouraged. Dealing with substance misuse can look different for everyone, and different methods will work for different people. It’s important to find the right approach for you.

Below we’ll cover some things you can do in the moment when experiencing cravings or a desire to consume/use. We also have information on next steps you can take and long term strategies too.

  • Delay strategies

    You may find it helpful to employ a strategy called The 3 D’s:

    1. Delay – decide how long you want to delay using the substance. This can be 5, 10, 30 or 60 minutes – choose a length of time that feels achievable for you in the moment.
    2. Distract – do something that will occupy your thoughts and attention during this time. There are some suggestions below in ‘take your mind off things’
    3. Decide – after you delay and distract, you can decide whether you want to use the substance. You may want to consider:
      • The advantages versus disadvantages for using the substance
      • Why you didn’t want to use the substance in the first place
      • How you might feel once the substance’s effects have worn off.
  • Speak to someone

    Opening up to someone about how you’re feeling can be really hard, but is also one of the best ways to manage substance misuse. It’s ok to ask for help, or to at least share some of what’s going on for you.

    You might like to consider talking to someone you trust, or connecting with an anonymous, confidential support service like Lifeline or the National Drug Hotline.

  • Take your mind off things
  • Surf the urge
  • Find ways to ground yourself
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