How to Curb Alcohol Cravings

These triggers can be people, places, or things that make you crave alcohol. Over time, many people find their cravings easier to control and reduce in strength. During this time, the brain transitions from incentive salience to habit formation. This can make it more likely a person will continue to consume alcohol. It can also make it more difficult for them to stop using alcohol.

That’s why building your own recovery toolkit can make a difference in your ability to weather the most intense cravings. A positive distraction can help occupy your thoughts and energy, giving you something to focus on besides the urge to drink. “A typical craving might last for 3 to 5 minutes,” notes Christina Hanks, senior recovery coach and care team manager at Tempest. Daily activities and engagements could fall into this category.

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This isn’t a sign of weakness or anything to feel ashamed about. Alcohol cravings are very common in people who are trying to cut back on their drinking. Here, we explore what cravings are, why we get them, and how to manage alcohol cravings. Along with medication and other treatment support, a range of alternative therapies may be effective in lessening alcohol cravings and other withdrawal symptoms.

how to stop alcohol cravings

The drug helps ease alcohol withdrawal symptoms like insomnia, anxiety, and depression. A person may experience alcohol cravings for various reasons. These may include changes in brain chemistry, triggers, and habit formation. There are several prescription medications that are shown to reduce alcohol cravings, helping people reduce or quit drinking.

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The world around you seemed bleak, and you didn’t know where to turn. You’d get a bottle and keep the party of one going at home. In the morning, you’d wake up with a splitting headache, wondering why you let yourself do it all again. You had hopes for giving up drinking, and in this movie, you’d be disappointed in yourself, exhausted, and hungover. This could be anything from going for a walk, reading a book, or watching a movie. Doing something to take your mind off the craving can help it pass.

But even when you don’t know anyone else trying to make a similar change, friends and loved ones can still offer emotional support. Checking in with another person in your life who’s trying to stop drinking can certainly help you ride out a craving with someone who understands. When a craving for alcohol strikes, a good first step involves acknowledging the craving, according to Mehta. She goes on to explain that while the craving might be intense, it will lessen and pass in a few minutes.

Why Do I Crave Alcohol?

Josh Lee is a clinician and researcher with a focus on medication-assisted treatment of alcohol and opioid use disorders. He has conducted multiple clinical trials examining the use of naltrexone in primary care and other community settings. As a practicing physician, Josh helps manage the NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue addiction medicine clinic in adult primary care.

  • This sensation can vary in intensity and can be characterized by withdrawal-like symptoms such as restlessness and nausea.
  • Take our short alcohol quiz to learn where you fall on the drinking spectrum and if you might benefit from quitting or cutting back on alcohol.
  • Much of this is dependent on factors specific to the individual, such as how severe their alcohol use disorder was and how long it has been since they have engaged in drinking.

You’ll get a 100% custom plan, then use daily texts to track your progress and help you stay on target. Although they have fewer calories, many light beers have almost as much alcohol as regular beer—about 85% as much, or 4.2% versus 5.0% alcohol by volume, on average. Her fields of interest include Japanese translation, cooking, natural sciences, sex positivity, and mental health, along with books, books, and more books.

How To Stop Alcohol Cravings: Overcoming the Urge For Good

Treatment often includes therapy and counseling to help you develop coping skills and other valuable techniques for your recovery journey. These skills and techniques come from cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). CBT helps change unhealthy thoughts into healthy thoughts, while DBT enables you to acknowledge your behaviors, emotions, and thoughts and balances them with positive change. Alcohol cravings can be a difficult aspect of quitting drinking, but with the right tools and support, it is possible to manage them. By understanding the causes of cravings, avoiding triggers, and finding alternative coping mechanisms, you can stay on track and achieve your goal of sobriety.

how to stop alcohol cravings