Alcohol can be great for relaxation especially while socializing with friends; however, it can also become a source of health issues, ranging from mental illnesses to physical problems. Men and women are equally affected by the negative impact of cravings. Although the available evidence is mixed or lacking in humans, the following natural supplements, herbs, and vitamins might help curb alcohol cravings (5, 6, 7). Internal triggers are thoughts, feelings, sensations, and beliefs inside you that feed your cravings for alcohol. As your cravings for alcohol become more manageable, you may decide to try reintroducing situations that previously triggered your temptation to drink.

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. 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.

Quick craving-busting strategy to the rescue!

As a reminder, just because you experience a craving, it does not mean you’ve lost control or haven’t made meaningful progress. The reality is that the sobriety or moderation journey is often a non-linear one, and you may confront cravings at any point in your journey. However, the good news is, with the right support and online alcohol treatment, you can learn how to manage cravings, and ultimately reduce their frequency and intensity. You have agency, and with this resource, a wealth of craving management tools at your disposal. Belinda Gordon-Battle is a licensed clinical therapist and life consultant based in Miami while providing therapeutic services across the globe. BGB, as her clients and colleagues call her, is an advocate of “removing the stigma” and normalizing the therapeutic process.

One way to explain why alcohol cravings exist is through classical conditioning. You might have developed alcohol-related cues, such as the sight of a local bar, due to that object’s association with drinking alcohol. Eventually, the sight of a local bar might result in your brain releasing neurotransmitters like it would if you were drinking alcohol. When you do not satisfy those responses, you may experience unpleasant effects.

Eat before and in between drinks.

Participation in one or more of these levels of care can help an individual access the care they need, allowing them the opportunity to develop a strong foundation for recovery. During that time, they can begin learning about relapse prevention strategies, such as how to manage alcohol cravings, and then expand upon it through additional programming. Cravings are response patterns that can be induced by these and other triggers. Although sometimes cravings may appear to simply come out of nowhere, they are usually the result of a situation, feeling, or memory that one has about former alcohol use. It’s important to understand that if you’re new to sobriety, or are still drinking small amounts of alcohol while trying to cut back, it’s likely that your cravings are down to withdrawal.

how to stop alcohol cravings

The first step to living an alcohol-free life is to seek professional assistance. Alcoholism affects your health, social life, and your loved ones negatively; it drowns you in low self-esteem and completely incapacitates the victim. 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.

Ways to Manage Alcohol Cravings

Most commonly used to treat depression, St. John’s wort may also help curb the urge to drink. One of the active ingredients in milk thistle extract is silymarin, which may improve liver function in people with alcohol use disorder. Bananas are rich in vitamin B6, which the body needs to produce and use serotonin. This neurotransmitter is key to reducing depression and anxiety—common reasons people use alcohol and also common issues that arise when quitting alcohol (4). 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.

Generally, a craving is defined as a subjective experience of wanting to use a drug. The experience is highly variable depending on numerous factors, including your mood, environment, where you are in the alcohol recovery timeline, and beyond. Cravings follow a period of abstinence from drinking alcohol, whether that’s a few hours or a few years.

There is some scientific evidence suggesting acupuncture provided by a qualified practitioner can help cut alcohol consumption and lessen alcohol withdrawal symptoms (11). The protein in poultry and fish helps in the production of dopamine, which can help improve your mood as you fight alcohol cravings. Naltrexone is a medication that belongs to a group of drugs known as opioid antagonists. It binds to and blocks opioid receptors in the brain, which reduces the buzz and intoxicated feeling you get from drinking alcohol.

It has long been used to prevent alcohol cravings, improve immune function, and reduce stress. These cravings can be frustrating if you’re trying to cut down on alcohol, drink less or stop drinking completely, but they are quite normal. One of the main ways a person can help control and prevent alcohol cravings is by understanding what triggers the cravings in the first place. It also goes over how to manage cravings, both in the short term and the long term. The more you drink, and the more often, the more your brain adapts to the presence of alcohol.

The three basic steps of urge surfing:

Once the initial withdrawal response passes, it’s common to go through a longer-term withdrawal experience known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome, or PAWS. Some of the most common symptoms of PAWS include anxiousness, mood swings, disrupted sleep, and prolonged alcohol cravings. PAWS can continue for weeks or months into recovery, but does subside with time. Most individuals with alcohol use disorder experience cravings from time to time.

Learning to navigate drinking triggers in daily life can be difficult. 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. Having an experienced person to talk to about your unique challenges can give you the confidence and the skills to keep moving forward when the going gets tough.

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