According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 95,000 people in the U.S. die each year from excessive alcohol use. However, because alcohol use is so normalized, it can be tough to avoid.
When you experience alcohol cravings, they won’t usually pop up out of the blue. Even if it feels like they do, cravings are patterns programmed within you. Your response to certain stimuli like trauma, discomfort, or anxiety can result in an alcohol craving. Understanding that cravings are mental and physical responses to something can help you rethink their power over you.
Where Do Cravings Come From?
Cravings stem from memories. If you are in recovery but go back to somewhere you used to drink, it can give you the idea that you need to drink. Even if you know that you are a sober person in recovery, cravings can arise in relation to subconscious memories.
Something like eating hot wings can bring on cravings for alcohol. Maybe you always used to drink when eating wings. Now, when you want wings, you have a desire for alcohol. Even if you’ve been living sober for years, your body and brain remember what it was like to give in to those cravings. Saying “yes” to cravings may temporarily give you a boost of dopamine, but once you realize you’ve relapsed, it will not feel so good.
The craving is pulling you one way while your conscious mind is pulling you in another. However, these urges to drink are not outside of your control; you can train yourself to work through alcohol cravings with practice.
7 Ways You Can Manage Alcohol Cravings
Managing alcohol cravings is not going to be simple. You can’t take a pill and reduce your urge to drink; the process of working through your addiction is a lot more complicated than that. According to an article in Rethinking Drinking titled “Handling Urges to Drink, ”With time, and by practicing new responses, you’ll find that your urges to drink will lose strength, and you’ll gain confidence in your ability to deal with urges that may still arise at times.”
7 Tips to Manage Alcohol Cravings
While your recovery journey will have its ups and downs, finding the strength to maneuver ahead will help you gain the confidence you need within the bad times. The following tips for managing alcohol cravings are not to be used in place of proper counseling, medical treatment, or peer support meetings but can help you alongside other methods.
#1. Be aware of common triggers: There are common triggers with alcoholism. Understanding what might set you off early in recovery is essential. This can help you enter certain situations more prepared or avoid those situations altogether. Watching beer ads on TV, going to a store that sells alcohol, or even seeing people drink can be triggering. Being prepared for such moments can help prevent you from relapsing.
#2. Learn what your triggers are: Everyone has their own triggers. Certain sounds, smells, people, or even memories can launch these triggers. Knowing what in particular leads to your alcohol cravings will also help you avoid those situations or prepare to work through them.
#3. Have methods to remain calm: Finding ways that work for you to stay calm is critical. While some people may find distracting themselves with a game on their phone works, others use meditation, breathing techniques, or listening to music. Find the methods that work best for you and let them guide you out of cravings.
#4. Understand cravings: Cravings are not a sign of failure; they are a natural part of the recovery process. Having the urge to drink doesn’t mean you will drink or that you are failing. Accepting that can help you remain positive.
#5. Remind yourself why you’re sober: When alcohol cravings occur, remind yourself why you got sober in the first place. What drove you to make this choice? Keep your reasons listed in your phone or wallet to turn to when you have cravings.
#6. Work through it: Sometimes, fighting these urges with techniques like breathing or distraction is not enough. Accepting that you are having a craving and letting it pass can help you feel even stronger. Recognizing the urge and letting it be while not acting on it will help you come to terms with the idea that you are more powerful than those fleeting moments.
#7. Have a support system: Knowing you have someone to reach out to, like a loved one or sponsor, is a vital part of handling cravings. Being able to call someone up to vent or get another perspective or reminder can help you revert to reality and out of the craving.
Remember, You Have Power Over Urges … Not The Other Way Around
Alcohol cravings are not easy to deal with.
Such moments can lead to relapse but taking control of them can help remind you how capable you are of staying sober. You have power over the urges, not the other way around.
Learning how to break the cycle of addiction isn’t just about getting sober but staying sober, and it’s essential to be prepared for the times when cravings occur. Having techniques that work for you will help you reroute those thoughts and feelings.
Remember that you gain more confidence in yourself and your recovery every time you overcome an alcohol craving. Understanding that cravings are part of the process will help you realize that you are not alone, nor are you failing. Part of recovery is working through those cravings and keeping your sobriety a priority. With the help of DetoxNearMe.com, you can develop the skills needed to manage alcohol cravings and remain sober.