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10 Simple Ways to Deal with Alcohol Cravings


For many of us struggling with alcohol dependency, quitting drinking is not as easy as just putting down the drink. During the first days, weeks and often months of sobriety, the alcohol cravings may be truly predominant and often very difficult to deal with. Frequently we do not have any line of defense when the cravings hit, and we end up taking that drink and relapsing. However, you can learn how to break this destructive cycle by utilizing some new coping skills.

I found this interesting information at the Betty Ford Center website:

A report in the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Research (Modell JG et al, 1992), indicates that many of the symptoms of craving in the dependent individual are similar to the thought patterns and behaviors of persons with obsessive-compulsive disorder, including recurrent and persistent thoughts about alcohol and the inability of the individual to resist these thoughts and a compulsive drive to consume alcohol and loss of control over that drive.

Wow! That sure explains things, right?

Craving alcohol can occur without any withdrawal symptoms, especially if strong reminders encourage the memory of the pleasurable effects of alcohol or drinking. This is a part of the disease; our body and mind will only remember the good times. We often totally fail to remember any of the destructive parts of our drinking. It is not unusual for a person with addiction to alcohol, to completely forget how horrible they felt the last time they drank, and what terrible situation they found themselves in after drinking.

So when cravings hit, act fast!

Here is the list of 10 tools that helped me the most during the early days of sobriety:

  1. Physically remove yourself from the situation. This may only include going to the bathroom, another room or just outside.
  2. Call someone immediately. This literally can be anyone, you do not necessarily need to talk about how you feel, sometimes talking about something completely different is the most helpful to get your mind off the craving.
  3. Break the time down to little portions. Commit to staying sober for next 1 minute, or 5, or 10 minutes. Wait that time and then do it again until the craving passes.
  4. Breathe. Try to relax your thoughts by taking deep breaths and focusing on your breathing only.
  5. Eat something sweet. Because alcohol contains lots of sugar, lack of sugar can often cause the cravings.
  6. Eat a meal. Sometimes cravings may be confused with hunger.
  7. Focus on something else. Redirecting your attention to watching TV, or reading aloud will help.
  8. Repeat a positive affirmation: I can do this, or mantra: This too shall pass. Or the serenity prayer.
  9. Make a pro/con list of drinking right now. Then in the third column list how the pros and cons would affect you.
  10. Force yourself to remember your last drunk. Think of the consequences. Imagine the impact on tomorrow, next week, and next month.

Dealing with cravings can be difficult, but the most important part to remember about cravings is that they are temporary. They come and go and they do not last forever! Furthermore with time, cravings will become less and less frequent, and much less difficult to deal with.

Here are two more article that have some great suggestions for coping with cravings:

5 Ways to Deal With Urges and Cravings
A Quick Guide to Coping with Alcohol Cravings

If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with Alcohol Use Disorder, please check out the Sober Courage menu at the top of this page for an extensive list of support groups and recovery related articles. You may also find some great inspiration, support and resources at the bottom of this page.

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  1. I think those are 10 excellent recommendations.
    The Betty Ford blurb was even more telling, though.

    It is VERY DIFFICULT to get through an obsessive compulsive episode rationally. No matter how logical you want to be, the behaviour is not logical.

    This is when creating the safe zone-free of alcohol, can be really helpful. And why people sometimes do need inpatient treatment to help protect themselves from their own behaviour.

    Thanks for that info!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I totally agree. Being in a safe zone was crucial for me. Although I only went to an outpatient rehab, I worked hard on not being around alcohol or things or places that would remind me of it. But I know that some people cannot do that as their spouse may drink or their family drinks. That’s really hard, but not impossible!

      Thanks for the great comment! Hugs.


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