When cravings set in one of the ways to try and overcome them is to think of the traffic lights system. As we begin to crave we go into red mode. We are on high alert to anything in our environment that could aid our relapse. In red alert stage we need to find a way to get into amber – that in between stage where anything can happen – we either go through that red light or we assess ourselves, slow down and get ready to go forth back onto the Straight Path of recovery. This is how it goes…
The Traffic Light System to Combat Cravings
RED ALERT: You are craving. Your body is responding to the thoughts of using or carrying out your addiction. The heart is pumping, nausea may be setting in and your stomach is churning. This could go either way – You are going to either give in to your desires or you are going to reign them in and overcome this craving and stay on the Straight Path to Recovery.
The first thing you need to do is remember Allah in what ever way you can. Seek refuge in Allah from Shaitan (say ‘authoo billahi min ashaytanir rajeem’), recite Qur’an (in particular verses known for expelling shaytanic thoughts like ayatul Kursi or the 3 Quls) supplicate to Allah by asking for His Help. The one who remembers Allah when they are about to sin, and then chooses not to carry out that sin due to the love or fear of Allah, they will receive a reward for having held themselves back. Cravings are irrational thoughts, by remembering Allah and considering out status before Him, we bring the conscious mind back into play and are able to then make a rational decision what to do next, insha’Allah.
AMBER STAGE – The cravings have not entirely left yet, but perhaps are gently subsiding. This stage is important because now we have consciously made a decision not to engage in our addiction. This is the time to do something else instead. Just as you would when approaching a red light at the traffic lights – SLOW DOWN and think about your next move.
What will keep us safe? We have already sought help from Allah and admitted to ourselves our own bad intentions. Now, maybe, we need to verbalise this with a supportive friend or relative, maybe a sponsor from N.A or another good candidate. By talking about our urge to carry out our addictive behaviour we are taking the steps to ensure we close that door. While in the amber stage this is also the time to do something different. The best way to overcome a habit is to replace it with a new one. Maybe we can go for a walk, hit the gym, read a book or take a long soak in the bath. Whatever we choose to do, we need to make sure it is going to help us change the direction in which we were heading.
Green for Go! So you nearly slipped, you almost relapsed but you didn’t! Praise Allah, thank Him and then show your gratitude to Him by serving Him. The Straight Path is one, we are either on it or we are off it. Alhamdullillah we did not give in to our cravings. We did something different to what we normally did in our addiction. We overcame our desires and stayed heading to Allah. Now we just need to do that every time! Allah is with us.
So next time the cravings set in – Remember the traffic lights
Stop – Think – Do something different
By Lynne Ali-Northcott (Addiction Counsellor)