India's #1 Addiction & Recovery Online Resource

Generic filters
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Browse Centers Recovery Resources

How to Stop Alcohol Cravings?

May 1, 2021
Reviewed by: Lisa Misquith

Alcohol addiction, also known as alcoholism, affects people in more ways than you can imagine. Experts have factored its many reasons such as socioeconomics, psychological, genetics, and behavioral. Alcohol addiction varies from person to person depending upon their amount and frequency of drinking alcohol.

Alcohol has also become a part of modern social life where the boundaries of its intake generally cross without any notice. The frequency of drinking alcohol leads to various physical and mental effects, where in some cases the results are potentially dangerous. If a person is consuming alcohol regularly, she/he may end up becoming an alcohol addict. Also, drinking alcohol routinely to avoid problems can have similar effects.

Once you have identified the problem, there are multiple solutions to cope with alcohol addictions. You may wonder how, to begin with, various questions in mind, such as how to stop alcohol cravings or how to move forward with treatment processes. Let’s take a look at them all one at a time.

Why Do You Crave Alcohol?

Alcohol cravings are typical for a person who has become addicted to its regular use. It is often a combination of internal triggers of a person like thoughts on specific situations and external factors relating to the effect of alcohol on the brain. When a person consumes alcohol, dopamine is released in the brain, which acts as a reward chemical responsible for motivating the person to engage in similar behaviour.

The regular use of alcohol releases dopamine in a significant quantity that alters the brain inciting the urge for its compulsive use. The strong need for drinking alcohol can lead to negative consequences in all walks of life. It is a significant sign of alcohol abuse.  

When a person has a compulsive urge or intense craving for drinking alcohol, she/he starts to show multiple signs and symptoms.

Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Craving

As mentioned above, alcohol cravings can also arise due to internal triggers like feelings or thoughts in a specific situation. Often negative thoughts lead to more alcohol cravings than positive ones due to their mood elevation effects on the brain. When intense cravings occur, the distress can be seen in the form of physical and mental symptoms. 

Some typical signs and symptoms of alcohol cravings are:

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Frequent mood shifts
  • Poor appetite
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Increased irritability
  • Low energy
  • Indecisiveness
  • Nausea followed by vomiting

When an alcohol addict suffers major withdrawals, it can also lead to severe symptoms like:

  • Seizures
  • Hand or body tremors
  • Disorientation
  • Insomnia
  • Increased heart rate
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Hallucinations (in rare cases)
  • Excessive sweating and discomfort followed by breathlessness
  • High fever
  • Delirium tremors

Severe or chronic symptoms require proper treatment that varies from person to person.

How to Stop Alcohol Cravings?

Alcohol is both physically and mentally addictive. People, suffering from alcohol addiction, have racy thoughts about its consequences, including how to stop alcohol cravings; although the situation is unruly for them. Fortunately, urges to consume alcohol are short-lived and can be anticipated. You can follow a simple approach of recognise-avoid-cope to stop alcohol cravings in the initial stages of addiction.

Here are some tips:

  1. Recognise Two Types of Triggers for Alcohol Cravings
  • External Triggers: they are people, things or specific periods during the day or places reminding you of alcohol drinking. 
  • Internal Triggers: they are thoughts and feelings relating to behaviours of indulging in alcohol consumption.
  1. Plan to Stay in Control

Once you recognise drinking patterns and the factors responsible for its trigger, the urges can be controlled. Self-awareness of your drinking habits and home detox can help suppress the craving. Its outcomes may vary from person to person depending upon their drinking behaviours.

Results can take many days to show positive signs; therefore, you should not lose hope or submit to alcohol craving. Besides, will power plays a crucial role in controlling such behaviours.

  1. Avoid High-Risk Situations

In some cases where a person has intense alcohol cravings, she/he can easily give up on drinking. It can especially happen when you live alone, therefore keeping no alcohol at home and clearing the current stock is the best way to approach. Whenever there is an intense craving, you can remind yourself about the reasons for initiating the process. If possible, you should also avoid meeting people or attending social gatherings where alcohol is consumed.

  1. Cope With Unavoidable Triggers

During the initial days, it is difficult most of the time to avoid high-risk situations or even block internal triggers. Here are some easy but effective strategies you can use anytime:

  • Remind yourself – of the reasons to take this step of stopping or suppressing alcohol cravings. Constant reminders are the most helpful in keeping a person on track during such times.
  • Talk to someone you trust – Talking solves many issues, even those of internal battles.
  • Distract yourself with healthy habits – Set up a routine for yourself to engage in physical or mental activities like running, playing games or similar. It will keep the mind busy and distracted from the need for drinking alcohol.
  • Accept your new normal – Not only it will help boost your will power, but also it will reset your mind to move forward.
  • Leave high-risk situations as soon as you can to avoid giving in to your alcohol craving.
  1. Plan to Handle Urges

Choose one of the coping strategies or choose all, whichever suits your need. Lay out a plan to handle alcohol cravings for all scenarios. It will help you deal with the situation rationally and quickly.

If the results are not visible after doing all things yourself, take the help of a medical professional to guide you through the process.

Essential Tips to Follow to Stop Alcohol Cravings

Alcohol addiction is a compelling force like any other drug, which takes a lot of efforts to manage effectively. There are some coping tips you can follow or apply immediately to your routine to help stop alcohol cravings.

  1. Know What Triggers You

We have also discussed this above in brief. You should always be aware of the situations triggering your need to consume alcohol, which can be identified by keeping track of all such places and people in a journal or similar. It will help anticipate cravings beforehand, and you will be ready with a plan on how to stop alcohol cravings.

If it means for you to avoid specific people or gatherings, take the step forward to initiate the process. There are some instances where you can not avoid social groups, so you must know non-alcoholic drinks you can consume and plan an exit strategy simultaneously. 

  1. Keep Busy

It is a known fact that, whenever a person is sitting idle, alcohol cravings hit the most during those times. You can find yourself new habits or join any time-consuming activity which helps you stay distracted from the urges. Engaging in physical activities like playing outdoor games and spending time with friends and family helps the most in such situations.

  1. Remember the Consequences

It is similar to giving yourself reminders about the reasons for starting the entire process in the first place. If the negative effects of alcohol abuse stay in your mind, it may deteriorate your mental health. Alcohol addiction is devastating for both your family and you, so must keep reminding yourself of its consequences.

  1. Meditate 

Meditation will help in controlling the mind and suppress urges of drinking alcohol. It will help you stay aware of the unhealthy impulses, which you can identify to not give into them.

Long-Term Methods to Solve Alcohol Cravings

For many people who suffer from severe alcohol addiction and have intense withdrawal symptoms or alcohol cravings, short-term methods may not be helpful. Such people require long-term plans to solve their alcohol addiction problems, which also does not deteriorate their mental health. Treatments for alcoholism are usually personalised depending upon their routine intake and its effects on their mind and body. 

  1. Support Groups

Support groups are helpful during the times when you are also practising one of the above methods to stop alcohol cravings. If you attend support groups regularly, you can gain insights into other’s experience of coping with their addiction problems and how to stop alcohol cravings. They help promote encouragement to talk about it and be accountable.

  1. Therapy Sessions

In case of intense cravings, you can also take the help of a therapist or certified counsellor to help identify the root cause. Cognitive Behavioural Therapies (CBT) helps develop healthy coping skills to deal with mental health issues arising due to cravings or withdrawals.

A therapist can help you heal, as well.

  1. Medication

Medications become necessary for people for whom none of the above methods or strategies works out. They help reduce alcohol cravings and withdrawal symptoms, which sometimes become necessary to deal with severe addiction problems.

The Path Ahead

Alcohol addiction and its cravings are treatable, especially when a person has strong will power. It only requires the right resources with the support of your loved ones to deal with it.

Sometimes the path can be difficult, but it does not mean to lose hope. You can live an alcohol-free life in the long term once you have identified the problem.