How to Deal with Alcohol Cravings
The reason that so many people struggle with alcohol addiction is that alcohol cravings can be extremely difficult to overcome without professional support.
To succeed in addiction recovery, you need to be able to deal with alcohol cravings. Read our tips to find out how to deal with alcohol cravings and achieve recovery today.
What Are Alcohol Cravings?
Cravings for alcohol are what many people experience when suffering from alcoholism. Cravings typically consist of intense emotions, thoughts and physical responses which causes addicts or those in recovery to continue drinking alcohol.
Alcohol cravings often force people to stay in a cycle of substance abuse as cravings make it difficult to stop or think about anything else. As intense cravings can be difficult to control, learning how to deal with alcohol cravings and manage symptoms is the only way to recover from addiction.
How Long Does It Take to Stop Craving Alcohol?
Cravings for alcohol are something that you will always need to manage, even after you have achieved a full recovery and are sober. This is because addiction is a disease which is not curable, but instead manageable.
Alcohol cravings are typically the strongest during the withdrawal process. Alcohol detox usually takes 5-8 days, during which alcohol cravings are likely to be experienced and hard to manage. This is why attending a rehab centre or seeking support is crucial during this stage.
What Causes Alcohol Cravings?
Cravings for alcohol are caused by the body’s tolerance and dependence on alcohol, which develops over a long period of time. This can be worsened by triggers.
Alcohol cravings can be triggered by internal and external factors which take place every day, making recovery difficult. Emotional and physical events can promote addiction and are known as triggers. Some triggers occur more frequently than others.
During our rehab programme, a therapist helps clients to identify their personal addiction triggers which can make alcohol cravings worse. This knowledge helps clients avoid or manage triggers as and when they arise. Coping with cravings requires you to examine your own life and identify unique and deeply personal triggers which threaten relapse.
Triggers may be impossible to avoid, which is why residents in rehab are taught how to cope with them.
How to Overcome Alcohol Cravings
To overcome alcohol addiction, medical assistance is highly recommended as cravings are often the worst during the detox period as you try to quit. Detox is either carried out at home or within a residential rehab clinic such as ours at Ocean Recovery.
If you opt for home detox, it is important to seek the assistance of your GP to offer advice and guidance. Alternatively, residential rehab means clients receive 24-hour-a-day medical observation and medical professionals will help you deal with alcohol cravings.
A number of prescription medications such as chlordiazepoxide/Librium are typically provided to help manage withdrawal symptoms, which can help you overcome alcohol cravings.
The good news is the cravings that are experienced in recovery are not as powerful as those experienced during detox. However, cravings experienced in recovery are subconscious and may be triggered, which is why it is key to know how to manage symptoms and triggers long-term. If you are unable to identify an alcohol craving, it’s likely you won’t take action before it is too late.
3 Ways to Stop Alcohol Cravings
If you take part in a structured therapy programme a counsellor will help you to identify negative emotions which may promote your drinking behaviour. If you have not received therapy, it may be difficult to identify personal triggers of addiction yourself. This is why knowing how to identify your triggers is key to knowing how to deal with alcohol cravings.
See below the steps you can take as a recovered alcoholic to manage cravings for alcohol.
#1. Know Your Alcohol Triggers
To know your triggers of addiction you must dig deep and understand what fuels your alcoholism. Identifying addiction triggers is most effectively tackled in therapy, offered at our rehab centre. However, if you do not have access to a therapist, we recommend you keep a written diary of your thoughts and emotions that occur throughout your day, and specifically note down how you feel when cravings are experienced.
Make a note of situations, people, times of the day or any other triggers that make you experience cravings to drink.
#2. Avoid High-Risk External Triggers
If you’ve completed step #1 correctly you should now know the situations, people and other external factors that may cause you to experience cravings for alcohol. We advise that you take steps to avoid situations that make it likely for you to relapse. For example, weddings, nights out and other drinking events may be very triggering if you are avoiding alcohol in recovery.
Having supportive friends and family surrounding you will benefit your recovery process greatly. It is a good idea to speak to loved ones and discuss things that may result in alcohol cravings, so they can support and accommodate your needs as you stay sober.
#3. Manage Internal Triggers
Internal triggers mean thoughts, emotions and even physical things that can cause you to experience cravings. Such triggers are difficult to avoid, especially if they are mental and you do not discuss them with anybody else. This is why it is important that you develop a successful coping strategy to help you manage any triggers and cravings.
Common coping strategies to help you deal with alcohol cravings include:
- Letting trusted loved ones know your cravings.
- Distracting yourself with other activities such as a sport, going to the cinema or going to visit friends/family. Distracting yourself may mean just getting out of the house and refreshing your mind.
- Following your relapse prevention programme or contacting a peer to manage cravings.
- Learn to relax. Why not learn yoga or mindfulness to help cope with symptoms? Both of these techniques are commonly taught in residential rehab programmes and can be continued after treatment.
Get Support Today to Stop Alcohol Cravings
To help you deal with alcohol cravings, reach out for professional support. Cognitive behavioural therapy and other forms of modern psychotherapy are extremely good at teaching coping strategies, which are commonly offered in residential rehab centres.
At Ocean Recovery we offer a comprehensive alcohol rehabilitation programme. Please contact our admissions team if you wish to learn more about alcohol addiction treatment on 0800 880 7596.
John Gillen - Author - Last updated: October 5, 2023
John is one UK’s leading professionals in the addiction recovery industry. Pioneering new treatment techniques such as NAD+ and ongoing research into new therapy techniques such as systematic laser therapy, John is committed to providing the very best treatment for people throughout the UK and Europe. During his extremely busy schedule, John likes to regularly update our blog section with the latest news and trends in the industry to keep visitors to our site as well informed as possible on everything related to addiction treatment.
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