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Alcohol is prevalent throughout our society. While socially drinking may be common, it can quickly spiral into a full-blown addiction once cravings have developed. If you are currently experiencing alcohol cravings, the time to react is now. Any craving for a substance can easily turn into an addiction, which is why it is imperative to stop using or consuming before it’s too late.
Luckily, there are many ways to curb the cravings of alcohol to maintain a sober life. By understanding why alcohol cravings occur and learning healthier alternatives to your excessive alcohol intake, you can change your life for the better. This article will discuss the causes of alcohol cravings and strategies on how to stop drinking before it turns into an addiction.
The Causes of Alcohol Cravings
Heavy drinkers are especially susceptible to developing alcohol cravings or even a dependency. Continued alcohol consumption alters the brain, which can lead to a variety of symptoms, long-term health effects, or even addiction. Once alcohol has been ingested, it changes the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain. A change in neurotransmitters can have a major effect on the communication between neurons throughout the body.
When an individual has been a heavy drinker, they are more likely to experience alterations in their levels of neurotransmitters, particularly dopamine and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). When an alcohol problem develops, the body adjusts to the increases in dopamine and sets its new standard at this increased level. Similarly, elevated levels of GABA make it more difficult for neurons to communicate with one another, effectively slowing down neuron-to-neuron communication in the brain.
Cravings for alcohol occurs when the body does not have enough alcohol in its system to support the adjusted levels of neurotransmitters. Cravings can be uncomfortable and can increase the temptation to drink.
Below is a list of strategies on how to curb alcohol cravings. These tips can help you reduce cravings, lessen withdrawal symptoms, and prevent relapse in the future.
Helpful Strategies for Curbing Alcohol Cravings
If you find yourself craving alcoholic beverages, it’s critical that you seek help from a treatment center as soon as possible. Learning how to stop your drinking problem to make a positive change can be difficult, especially if cravings and other withdrawal symptoms are present, however it is not impossible. Having a drink can feel like it will solve your problems and alleviate anxiety without jeopardizing your future, but for someone struggling with alcoholism, one drink can spiral into a full relapse.
Below are a number of strategies to help curb cravings for alcohol.
- Avoid Situations That Will Increase The Desire to Drink: When you are exposed to alcoholic beverages, cravings may increase. That’s why it is vital you avoid situations that may influence you to drink. Examples of this include maintaining a home that is free of alcohol, skipping social gatherings and establishments that are centered around drinking, and reaching out to friends and family to select alcohol-free activities to partake in instead.
- Foster Healthy Distractions to Avoid Drinking: While cravings can be uncomfortable and challenging, they will pass. By finding healthier activities to focus on instead, you can shift your mind’s focus from drinking alcohol to something else. This could mean going for a hike, a swim in the local pool, grabbing coffee with a friend, or any other healthy activity that will bring you joy and allow you to shift your focus away from the desire to drink.
- Reach Out to a Trusted Friend or Advisor: Talking about cravings can be helpful to overcome them. If you are recovering from an addiction to alcohol, it is vital to have a support system that you can reach out to when you are struggling. Whether that is a rehab treatment professional or a trusted friend, it is critical you have someone that you can discuss what you are going through.
- Have Easily Accessible Reminders of Why It is Important to Avoid Drinking: Everyone has different reasons they want to be sober. When you are experiencing cravings for alcohol, it is important to remember why you quit in the first place. Think about those reminders every time cravings sneak up on you. If it helps, you can even write them down on a list and keep it on the fridge or inside your car as a daily reminder of why you want to be sober.
If you have a friend that needs help with alcohol addiction, get them help as soon as possible. If you are the one who has an alcohol dependence, please know that you are not alone and sobriety is achievable. Call our Florida drug rehab center to discuss the next steps in recovery.
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Rethinking Drinking. “Self-Help Strategies for Quitting Drinking.” Retrieved from https://www.rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/Thinking-about-a-change/Support-for-quitting/Self-Help-Strategies-For-Quitting.aspx.