Research shows the expectation of drug-taking increases craving. Clients in treatment or about to enter treatment experience less intense craving because they do not expect to be taking drugs or alcohol. If you expect not to use and plan not to use, you will decrease your reactivity (reacting spontaneously) to cues and decrease the intensity of the cravings (Wilson, Sayette, & Fiez, 2004). This means that committing not to use and expecting not to use can result in lowered response to your cues and less intense cravings when they do occur. That is why you were asked to write your commitment statement as your first action in creating your relapse prevention plan. If you haven’t done this yet, now is the time. Go back to Chapter One Introduction To Relapse Prevention and complete your “Commitment to Continued Positive Change in My Life.”
The first step to reducing your cravings and sensitivity to your cues is deciding you aren’t going to use. Making the commitment not to use and creating a cue reduced, drug and alcohol free environment is the key to relapse prevention. The more you expect not to use, the less you will crave and the less responsive you will be to unexpected cues. You won’t allow yourself to relapse in large part because you will have planned not to use and you expect not to use. You are more confident because you have a plan and expect to succeed.