Friday Night Pep-Talk: Dealing With Drinking Cravings

Happy Friday yet again! Let’s talk about…

What are cravings?Cravings

Cravings are a powerful desire for something. Alcohol cravings are mostly significant in early sobriety and maybe caused by sudden drops in blood sugar levels. When we stop drinking we cut out the sugar that our bodies are used to having. In my early sobriety especially, the cravings came on very strong, and they felt absolutely overwhelming. The quickest fix for me was to eat some sweets! Another quick fix for my cravings was coffee with lots of cream and of course – sugar! I actually think that I drank coffee all day long in the beginning! LOL!

I decided to do some research and I found some really interesting and helpful information!

Coping With Cravings and Urges to Drink

publication from National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism website:

  • Craving is most often experienced early in treatment, but episodes of craving may persist for weeks, months, and sometimes even years after some alcoholics stop drinking. Craving may be uncomfortable but is a very common experience and does not mean something is wrong. You should expect craving to occur from time to time and be prepared to cope with it if and when it occurs.
  • Urges to drink, or cravings, can be triggered by things you see in the environment that remind you of using alcohol. Physical signs may include tightness in your stomach or feeling nervous through your body; psychological signs may include increased thoughts of how good you would like to feel from using alcohol or drugs, remembering times you used alcohol in the past, planning how you would go about getting a drink, or feeling you need alcohol.
  • Craving and urges are time-limited, that is, they usually last only a few minutes and at most a few hours. Rather than increasing steadily until they become unbearable, they usually peak after a few minutes and then die down, like a wave. Urges will become less frequent and less intense as you learn how to cope with them.

Food That Can Help with Alcohol Cravingskeep

Form an article called: How to Handle Alcohol Cravings when You Quit Drinking

Because alcohol cravings are associated with drops in blood sugar, keeping a selection of foods on hand that boost and stabilize blood sugar is an excellent way of coping with alcohol cravings. While a candy bar or a bag of candy can be helpful in the short term, a better choice would be to eat foods that slowly raise your blood sugar and keep it stable for longer periods of time, such as complex carbohydrates. Excellent sources for complex carbohydrates are:

  • Whole grain breads
  • Whole grains such as: quinoa, barley, steel-cut oats, millet, bulgur wheat and brown rice
  • Nuts such as: flax-seed, almonds, cashews and sunflower seeds
  • Raw Vegetables

***I found this great list of carbs that raise blood sugar levels slowly on the Learning About Diabetes website, check it out here.

Change Your Habits and Mental Associations with Alcohol

Continued from: How to Handle Alcohol Cravings when You Quit Drinking

A component of alcohol cravings that is often overlooked are the psychological and physiological associations that occur with habitual drinking. If you enjoy drinking at a certain time of the day or with a certain activity such as watching television or reading, then when that time of day rolls around or the thought of watching your favorite show or reading crosses your mind, you will likely experience a craving for alcohol. Alcohol cravings do necessarily mean you are an alcoholic. But, they do at least indicate you have built a habit into your daily routine that your body is responding to. If you’ve made the 5:00 happy hour a part of your daily routine, then your body will respond at 5:00 for that daily dose of alcohol by craving it. Change your routine or drink a relaxing tea or another beverage with your book or when you watch television. In doing so, you will retrain your body to respond to the new habit and the new beverage.

Exercise Can Help with Alcohol Cravings

The journal of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, recently released a study that looked at the correlation between exercise and alcohol consumption. Based on their findings, researchers concluded that exercise seems to reduce alcohol consumption by stimulating brain reward pathways (i.e. releasing dopamine) in a manner similar to alcohol.

* My Quick Check List *

Avoid craving causing situations:
Keep away from people, places, times of day, and situations commonly associated with drinking such as drinking buddies, parties and bars.

When you get a craving:writing

  1. Talk about it!
  2. Write it out!
  3. Think it through!
  4. Get involved!

Beware of your emotion:

  • Particular types of emotions such as frustration, fatigue, and feeling stressed out. Even positive emotions elation, excitement, feelings of accomplishment can also be triggers.
  • Also physical feelings feeling sick, shaky, tense, can bring on cravings which maybe more socialized since we are used to using alcohol to self-medicate.

I hope you found this helpful and you are now more prepared to deal with the cravings! Take care of yourself. Remember that cravings are normal and they are always temporary; you do not have to react to them!

How do you deal with cravings?

For Other Friday Night Pep-Talk posts click HERE.


If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with alcohol addiction, please click the Find Support link for an extensive list of support groups. Also please check out the links to many useful resources in the sidebar, and always feel free to contact me anytime at sobercourage@gmail.com.

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15 Comments Add yours

  1. mishedup says:

    The thing that helped me the very most in the beginning was doing something different. I was habituated to drinking at certain times , cooking, cleaning, surfing the net. I pretty much stopped cooking…ate out, take out, cereal for dinner, whatever! I also had a very hard time keeping the house clean…for a while, it got better, as did the cooking, but the idea of doing something different was fore-front in my mind. I went out a lot more, even just walking around the mall, anything..and of course I went out a lot of meetings and started accepting invites to lunch or dinner or a movie after.

    When I have a craving now, which is very seldom, I always check HALT….am I Hungry? Angry? Lonely? Tired? Generally one of these questions will resonate and I take action. I’ll eat, call a friend, make an amends, go to bed…

    Love this post, lots of solid info!

    Like

    1. Thanks! And yes, HALT is huge, I did an entire post just about it few weeks ago! I was trying to focus more on the cravings here, I know this goes hand in hand with relapse prevention, but I think sometimes we want to drink but don’t actually have a craving, or have a craving but don’t actually want to drink? I think craving get more physical. Anyway, this could probably be a big debate! Lol! Thanks for stopping by. Have a great weekend!

      Like

  2. Hi Maggie,

    For me, cravings had more to do with my mental state than my physical one, so I am with Mished Up… I had to change my routine, and it worked wonders! I was a home drinker, so I made sure that I was out doing things during the normal time of day when I would drink.

    It also meant establishing a new routine for recovery, which for me meant going to meetings. In early sobriety (the first year), I went every day, no matter what, and I made sure to talk to someone when I was there. Sounds small, but they were huge steps for me, and gave me a solid foundation in the program.

    As always, LOVE this series, Maggie!

    Like

    1. I totally agree, changing habits is huge! And I went to meetings everyday too, and stayed connected. I worked in the evenings so my meetings were in the morning, when I got home from work at a
      11 pm is when I got hit with my cravings the most. It was hard to go anywhere, or do something that late, most of the time I would go to bed, but I had a hard time sleeping too. New routines are crucial, that’s actually why I worked late, I figured if I packed my entire day, since I was all day drinker, I had less time left to be tempted!

      Thanks for your comment, I love to hear how others do it, it all goes into my sober toolbox and I am sure at it is helpful to everyone!

      Like

  3. sober365days says:

    Thank you so much for this post–I love the information in it. Terrifically useful for me as I negotiate romantic feelings about alcohol. Somehow I am feeling nostalgic for all the great times I had drinking, while conveniently forgetting all the lousy hangovers, etc, that I had. Look forward to reading more!

    Like

    1. Oh yes, me too! I got to play the whole tape through, because it always starts so romantic and elegant, but that was not what it was really like at all! I have to remember the reality for sure! Thank you, and thanks for the great comment!

      Like

  4. Reblogged this on Sober Courage and commented:

    You may find that Friday nights are especially challenging for you — they sure were the worst for me. In early recovery, my cravings were just crazy on Friday nights! There is just something about Fridays… the end of the workweek and the need for a reward for all the hard work done — it just always felt like celebrating and drinking, and drinking alot!

    To help me survive I learned how to anticipate and plan out my Friday nights. I filled them up with things to do like a movie to watch, a book to read, a friend to hang out with, or 12-step meetings or none drinking events. This was really important for me to do, because white-knuckling it every Friday night was absolutely exhausting, and it usually set me up for a relapse! But the more occupied I was the easier it was to get through the night sober! Eventually I stopped feeling like my Friday nights were a complete dud and I found that Friday nights can be even lots of fun without drinking!

    Like

    1. I’m so happy to have found your blog. I’m a sober new girl (day 18 – yikes!) and am feeling clear-headed (for the first time in a LONG time!) but every so often moments of sheer panic take hold…So, I’m ever thankful for your great advice. x

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Sober Garden! Love that name. Nice to meet you, I am glad you found my blog. Congtas on 18 days! That’s awesome! Keep up the good work and stay connected. Can’t wait to read about your journey! You can do this. One day at a time. Sending many hugs!

        Like

        1. Your words are so kind Maggie, they could make me blub! I’m going to do this…one day at time as you say and thanks for the hug x.

          Like

  5. I still have cravings at 11 years. Some people have them at 30 years and more. They get briefer and the time between them gets longer. I deal with them by backing off from the temptation (grocery checkout e.g.) and breaking them down to components: hunger, stress, fatigue, need for fluids, need for signal of leisure time, need for escape, need for a flavor that’s not sweet, desire for oblivion (the real goal when I was drinking). I find the best and most intelligent way to meet each part without drinking. I get off my feet, have a glass of water and a piece of cheese, give myself a footrub, play some music and close my eyes a minute. Oblivion has to wait until I go to sleep at night.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi there! Thank you for this great comment, and the many helpful tips! I love the line “Oblivion has to wait until I go to sleep at night.” – that is great! I still get cravings on occasions too, and I usually have a cup of coffee or some fruit or hard candy, like Jolly Ranchers – actually candy does the trick! 🙂 I used to have cravings, but I don’t mind them now, I treat them as a little reminder that I am still an alcoholic!

      Like

      1. Yep — it’s just sending you a little reminder.

        Like

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