Author: James Anderson

Alcohol Cravings: Why They Happen and How to Manage Them

how to reduce alcohol cravings

It is inadvisable to try to deal with this problem alone, as this situation can greatly deteriorate. Professional healthcare advisors in alcohol rehab facilities know how to deal with alcohol cravings and are in the best position to prescribe the right drugs to curb alcohol cravings. Some small clinical studies have shown it can reduce alcohol cravings and alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

He is an expert in medical content development, especially in the field of addictions, general health, homeopathic medicine, and pharmaceuticals. Brian has a bachelor’s degree in Microbiology from the University of Benin and has worked as a Lab Scientist and as a public healthcare officer. His hobbies include physical fitness, reading, and social entrepreneurship. 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.

how to reduce alcohol cravings

For many, it may be difficult to maintain low-risk drinking habits. About 50% of people who drink in this group have alcohol use disorder. Sunnyside provides a simple but structured approach to help you drink more mindfully. Discover more energy, restful sleep, and improved wellness with a plan designed to fit your life. You don’t have to leave the house to get support from other people who understand and respect what you’re trying to do.

The following activity offers suggestions to support you in your decision to cut back or quit drinking. It can be used with counseling or therapy and is not meant as a substitute for professional help. If you choose to try it on your own and at any point feel you need more help, then seek support (see Help Links).

Do all Alcohol-Dependent Individuals Face Cravings?

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. 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. There is some scientific evidence suggesting acupuncture provided by a qualified practitioner can help cut alcohol consumption and lessen alcohol withdrawal symptoms (11).

how to reduce alcohol cravings

Our experts continually monitor the health and wellness space, and we update our articles when new information becomes available. You might notice stressful or tense situations tend to fuel cravings more often than not. 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. When a craving for alcohol strikes, a good first step involves acknowledging the craving, according to Mehta.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved some medications to help treat AUD. Doctors prescribe these medications to people who have an AUD diagnosis. Over time, many people find their cravings easier to control and reduce in strength. It shifts from conscious control using the prefrontal cortex, which relates to thoughts, actions, and emotions, to habit formation using the basal ganglia. The basal ganglia are the part of the brain responsible for motor control, learning, and executive functions.

She goes on to explain that while the craving might be intense, it will lessen and pass in a few minutes. Cravings are common in the early stages of recovery and you may experience them on and off for a number of years. The good news is that cravings usually only happen for a short period of time, and if you can distract yourself and ‘ride them out’, you’ll be able to continue along your path to wellbeing. Common side effects of Disulfiram include drowsiness, tiredness, headache, skin rash, swollen tongue, metallic taste, numbness of limbs, extreme mood swings, seizures. Absolute abstinence from alcohol is advised while on this medication.

If you’ve ever tried to break any habit, you probably know it’s often easier said than done. Of course, addressing your triggers at the source can also go a long way toward helping you make lasting changes. Rather than steeling yourself to face a craving with a sense of restriction, Hanks recommends approaching the craving with curiosity.

How Long Do Alcohol Cravings Last?

Whether you experience occasional drinking urges, or find yourself craving alcohol every day, Ria Health can help. We support everyone from social drinkers who would like more control, to people who drink heavily and daily. You don’t need to identify as an alcoholic or put your life on hold to get help with alcohol cravings. Learning to navigate drinking triggers in daily life can be difficult.

But the real thing is often much stronger than simply being “in the mood” for a slice of pizza or an ice cream cone (although for people with eating disorders, food cravings can be very real). To the best of our knowledge, all content is accurate as of the date posted, though offers contained herein may no longer be available. The opinions expressed are the author’s alone and have not been provided, approved or otherwise endorsed by our advertisers.

  1. A recovery coach can give you tools for dealing with strong alcohol cravings, help you set achievable goals, manage shame and stress, and track your progress accurately.
  2. Psychological symptoms can include irritability, anxiety and restlessness.
  3. But even when you don’t know anyone else trying to make a similar change, friends and loved ones can still offer emotional support.
  4. People with a parent, grandparent, or other close relative with alcoholism have a higher risk for becoming dependent on alcohol.
  5. 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.

This serving size of wine contains about the same amount of alcohol as a 12-ounce regular beer or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits. 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. Alcohol cravings can be difficult to manage alone, and there’s no shame in needing a little extra support. In other words, what works for a friend won’t always work for you. That’s why building your own recovery toolkit can make a difference in your ability to weather the most intense cravings. 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.

Medication to Help with Alcohol Cravings

These might include not driving past your favorite bar or wine shop, or taking a break from socializing with friends who drink often. For situations where a trigger is unavoidable, you might find a trusted friend you can call, or come up with an exit strategy ahead of time. The more you drink, and the more often, the more your brain adapts to the presence of alcohol. Alcohol cravings are a consequence of alcohol’s interaction with your brain chemistry. So, if you find yourself craving a glass of wine after work, but don’t feel you have a problem otherwise, this post is for you as well.

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.