Author: Alex Thompson

4 Ways to Stop Alcohol Cravings

how to reduce alcohol cravings

There are various reasons a person may experience cravings, such as changes in brain chemistry, habit formation, and triggers. These may include changes in brain chemistry, triggers, and habit formation. 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. If you are having a very difficult time with urges, or do not make progress with the strategies in this activity after a few weeks, then consult a healthcare professional for support. In addition, some new, non-addictive medications can reduce the desire to drink or lessen the rewarding effect of drinking so it is easier to stop.

In fact, you can find it online with sites like Sunnyside, which helps you create a customized plan, Tempest, or Ben’s Friends for people who work in the food and beverage industry. “Try doing a ‘dry’ month like Dry January, Go Dry for July or Sober October,” says Moore. In January 2020, more than 6 million people reportedly participated in Dry January, a campaign to reduce alcohol consumption organized by Alcohol Change UK. Follow-up research suggested that most tended to drink in healthier amounts afterward. “Once you have a sense of how much you’re drinking, it’s helpful to track how many drinks you’re having per day,” says Witkiewitz.

  1. Alcohol cravings can be difficult to manage alone, and there’s no shame in needing a little extra support.
  2. One of the active ingredients in milk thistle extract is silymarin, which may improve liver function in people with alcohol use disorder.
  3. Dairy products in general are good sources of calcium, vitamin D, and other vitamins and minerals that you’ll need to replenish to stay healthy and fight cravings.
  4. Follow-up research suggested that most tended to drink in healthier amounts afterward.

Alcohol cravings may occur for a variety of reasons, such as changes in brain chemistry, triggers, and habit formation. Just because a person experiences cravings for alcohol does not necessarily mean they have alcohol use disorder. The NIAAA offers a printable urge tracker and a worksheet for handling triggers. Ria Health members also get a workbook with a number of exercises to mindfully manage drinking urges. If you’ve recently quit drinking, you may also be experiencing post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS).

Identify Your Triggers and Make a Plan

Combining medication with therapy and other interventions can prove even more helpful than medication alone. Understanding the three distinct components of your habit loop can help you come up with more specific strategies to overcome cravings when they pop up. Maybe you experience your strongest cravings when you feel anxious or stressed or find yourself facing conflict with someone you care about. She notes that it can help to avoid your triggers as much as possible in early recovery, since triggers are often most intense when you first stop drinking.

how to reduce alcohol cravings

“You could use a calendar, journal or any number of tracking apps.” Drink Control Alcohol Tracker or Less are two examples of free tracking apps available on iOS devices. Her fields of interest include Japanese translation, cooking, natural sciences, sex positivity, and mental health, along with books, books, and more books. In particular, she’s committed to helping decrease stigma around mental health issues. She lives in Washington with her son and a lovably recalcitrant cat. Therapy, medication, and recovery programs can all have benefit for reducing and preventing cravings.

Build a network of positive influences that would improve your self-esteem. A supportive and dedicated group of friends is a great backbone, especially in long term abstinence. Attending support groups and communicating positively helps to maintain sobriety. These are some of the best ways on how to help someone with a drinking problem. Cravings develop into alcoholism and without alcohol counselors or drugs to stop alcohol craving, it can be a lifetime effect.

Private outpatient treatment

Frequent drinking can cause your body to build a tolerance to alcohol. This means you need to drink more in order to feel ‘drunk’ and you’re likely to be much more susceptible to experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms. These can include feelings of anxiety, irritability, nausea and headaches, as well as intense cravings for alcohol. It can take some time for a person’s brain chemistry to readjust after giving up alcohol.

Disulfiram is a pill that causes unpleasant side effects when combined with alcohol. As with external triggers, you may or may not be aware that an internal trigger is what’s behind your urge to drink. As your cravings for alcohol become more manageable, you may decide to try reintroducing situations that previously triggered your temptation to drink. When they occur, alcohol cravings can feel overwhelming, even if they last only a few minutes. For comparison, regular beer is 5% alcohol by volume (alc/vol), table wine is about 12% alc/vol, and straight 80-proof distilled spirits is 40% alc/vol. This “increased risk” category contains three different drinking pattern groups.

External triggers are things in your environment that make you want to drink alcohol. These triggers can be people, places, or things that make you crave alcohol. If a person repeats drinking patterns, it can cause the brain to shift control over the actions involved with drinking. Heavy drinking during pregnancy can cause brain damage and other serious problems in the baby. Because it is not yet known whether any amount of alcohol is safe for a developing baby, women who are pregnant or may become pregnant should not drink.

Why do alcohol cravings happen?

BGB, as her clients and colleagues call her, is an advocate of “removing the stigma” and normalizing the therapeutic process. She incorporates cultural relevance and non-traditional interventions and strategies to strengthen her clients’ steps towards goals of behavioral, emotional, social and mental wellness. Information provided on Forbes Health is for educational purposes only. Your health and wellness is unique to you, and the products and services we review may not be right for your circumstances. We do not offer individual medical advice, diagnosis or treatment plans.

Along with medication and other treatment support, a range of alternative therapies may be effective in lessening alcohol cravings and other withdrawal symptoms. Acamprosate is prescribed to people after they’ve quit drinking alcohol to help them maintain abstinence. The drug helps ease alcohol withdrawal symptoms like insomnia, anxiety, and depression. Breaking this loop can help a person overcome alcohol cravings and manage their alcohol intake. They can break this loop by avoiding triggers when possible, distracting themselves in the moment, and practicing relaxation techniques. A person who experiences alcohol cravings does not necessarily have alcohol use disorder.

Understanding these cues can help a person predict them, prepare for them, and act against many of them. Consuming alcohol can produce chemical imbalances within certain neural circuits in the brain.

Foods to reduce alcohol cravings

Internal triggerstypically involve memories, thoughts, emotions, or physical sensations that prompt the urge to drink. Addiction is severe and extremely difficult to overcome without proper rehabilitation. The term “rehabilitation” is a set of steps taken to reverse the effects and damages caused by alcoholism – physically, mentally, emotionally, and otherwise. Josh Lee is a clinician and researcher with a focus on medication-assisted treatment of alcohol and opioid use disorders.