Anyone who has ever tried cleaning out a bookshelf and ended up spending an hour reading knows the power of distraction! Harness this power to help a young person cope with alcohol and other drug cravings.

The Youth AOD toolbox recommends three key strategies to support a young person experiencing cravings.

  • Remove ‘cues’ or reminders of use as these intensify craving.
  • Keep busy, use distractions
  • Focus on what is happening at the moment and take each hour and day as it comes. Thinking too far ahead can often be overwhelming and counterproductive.

Making a distraction box is a practical exercise that can help a young person accept that cravings will happen, identify their own coping strategies and plan ahead. As the name suggests, these boxes are filled with things that will divert and engage a young person when the cravings hit and help a young person delay making a decision to use. Good distraction boxes are inviting, inspiring, individualised and updated regularly.

You can fill a distraction box with anything that a young person thinks will help divert their attention. Here are some ideas to get you going.

Remove ‘cues’ or reminders of use as these intensify craving.
  • Art supplies
  • Nail polish and manicure set
  • A musical instrument
  • Inspiring letter from a loved one
  • Photos
  • A favourite DVD, CD or game
  • Sporting equipment
  • Bead making kit
  • Gym gear
  • Aromatherapy oils & meditation CD
  • Mandala Sheets and pencils
  • Pen and paper for creative writing
  • Mind teaser puzzles
  • A favourite magazine
  • A pedometer
  • A skipping rope
  • Photo albums
  • Movie / coffee voucher
  • Dog lead or cat treats
  • Fishing gear

The list goes on…..

Distraction boxes are best suited to young people who have a supportive environment around them with their basic needs met and are already motivated to reduce their substance use.