5 Tips for Keeping Control

Number 1: Look after yourself

Take care of yourself by improving your general health and wellbeing. For example, eating regularly and using relaxation techniques can help you remain calm and gain perspective (often our perceptions are skewed into thinking everyone else is having a great time when in fact other people are often stressed to the max).

Using a relaxation technique before you go to bed can help you to relax and sleep.

Relaxing the body: Controlling Breathing

  • Place one hand on your stomach
  • Breath in through your nose to the silent count of four, allowing your stomach to swell
  • Breath out gently through the mouth to the count of six, allowing the stomach to return to normal
  • Count to two and inhale again
  • Try to get a rhythm going, counting to four on the in-breaths and to six as you exhale.
  • You are aiming to take about 8 - 12 breaths per minute.
At first this will feel uncomfortable and as though you are not getting enough air. However, with practice, this slower rate of breathing will feel comfortable. Practice will also make you aware of what is your normal breathing rate - this will vary slightly for different people. When you feel anxious and start breathing faster you will be able to bring your breathing back under control.


If you take prescribed medication, make sure you have enough to tide you over the festive period.

Boots in Shandwick Place, 0131 225 6757, provide an out-of-hours pharmacy which is open on Christmas Eve, Christmas day, Boxing day, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.

If you have any non-emergency medical concerns call NHS 24 on 08454 24 24 24 for support.

Number 2: Understand your past behaviour/triggers

Be aware of the situations that are triggers that make you use and avoid them or seek support from friends, family or professionals.

A really useful tool to help manage this has the rather unfortunate acronym of D.E.A.D.S. - Delay, Escape Avoid, Distract, Substitute

D...DELAY - Delay acting on the feeling/craving - even just for a few minutes and see if your feelings change.

E....ESCAPE - If you find yourself in a situation where you feel vulnerable or feel the urge to use - how can you escape?

A....AVOID - Avoid being in situations where you may feel vulnerable and try to avoid being around people or in places that could trigger cravings/urges for you.

D....DISTRACT - What could you do to distract yourself? Maybe make a cup of tea or coffee or go out of the room/ place where you are having cravings?

S....SUBSTITUTE - What activity could you do instead? Go for a walk? Go to the gym?

Coping with cravings:

It is important to realise that urges and cravings are to be expected when you are going through the process of changing your drug use. Feeling these cravings can also be a response to people, situations and moods connected to your old drug habits and environments. It can also be a sign that you are in a high-risk situation and should be careful.

You may have a fear of being completely overwhelmed by the craving/urge and think that the only way to relieve the craving is by using drugs. This is not the case.

Try thinking about cravings like this: Imagine an ocean wave and how it moves. It starts as a small wave and slowly but steadily grows and grows until it reaches its peak, then slowly reverses the process until it disappears. This too is the process of urges and cravings so you should try to ride the craving as a surfer rides the wave.

Number 3: Replace the habit

"Self love my Liege is not as vile a sin as self loathing" W. Shakespeare

Try new exercise or social activities. This can distract you from cravings and may also lead to something you enjoy and want to make a permanent part of your life. Think of the money you might save and what positive thing you could put it to such as treating yourself or someone you love.


Number 4: Set achievable, small goals to lead you toward a bigger goal

Remember what you want to achieve and think about how much you have worked towards it already.

Make sure that achieving the goal is something you can do and doesn't depend on others to make it happen.

This can be about getting through the next hour and most people can get by without doing something for an hour. Then do it again and in no time 24 hours will have passed! Taking things one day at a time is not merely a cliché it really works. Think about who you can call...who'd like to hear from you? Sometimes thinking of someone else takes your thoughts away from your own worrying.

Think about completing this statement, write your answer down to keep: "My Goals to see me through to 2013 are?"


Number 5: Use the support available

Accept support from family, friends and organisations as research shows that you're more likely to succeed with the support of others.

If you need help immediately over Christmas and New Year here is a list of some local services you may find helpful:


  • Edinburgh Samaritans - Tel: 0131-221-9999
  • Breathing Space - (Mon-Thurs 6pm-2am, Fri 6pm-Mon 6am) Tel: 0800 83 85 87
  • Mental Health Assessment Service (MHAS) - Tel: 0131-537-6000
  • Edinburgh Crisis Centre - Tel: 0808 801 0414
  • Emergency Social Work Service - Tel: 0800 731 6969
  • Castlecliff Hostel (provides emergency accommodation) Tel: 0131-225-1643
  • Housing Options Team - (out of hours service) - Tel: 0800 032 5968
  • National Scottish Domestic Abuse Helpline - Tel: 0800 027 1234
  • UK Domestic Abuse Violence Helpline - Tel: 0808 2000 247
  • AA alcoholics anonymous-Helpline tel: 0131 225 6090 or 0845 769 7555
  • NA narcotics anonymous -Helpline tel: 07071 223441
  • CA cocaine anonymous- Helpline tel: 0141 959 6363