How to reduce alcohol cravings
One of the hardest parts of getting sober is managing the ongoing – and sometimes permanent – alcohol cravings that come in recovery.
Despite your best attempts to live a healthy, alcohol-free lifestyle, now and then the craving for a drink can be a powerful force, bringing with it the potential to sabotage your success.
With enough resolve and some simple dietary and behavioral changes, you can manage your cravings and stay sober. Here are a few helpful methods to relieve the symptoms of an alcohol craving.
- Distraction. Finding a distraction can be one of the best ways to manage alcohol cravings. Addiction experts suggest that the physical sensations associated with cravings usually subside within 15 to 20 minutes. So long as you can distract yourself for that length of time, it's likely the craving will go away on its own. In the meantime, go for a walk, call your sponsor or do some housecleaning.
- Urge surfing. Accepting the urge, instead of trying to stamp it out, is known in recovery as "urge surfing." See the craving as a natural part of the recovery process, and allow it to rise up like a wave, which will eventually crest and break.
- Create a reminder list. This is a list of your reasons for getting sober in the first place. Record all of the negative things that happened to you during your drinking days, and look at this list when you're tempted to have a drink. It's a solid reminder of why your sobriety is valuable and sacred.
- Diet. Changes in blood sugar can sometimes trigger alcohol cravings. Make sure you don't over-consume carbohydrates, including sugar. Deficiencies in vitamin B12 have also been associated with alcohol cravings, and the vitamin is usually depleted in people who are or have been heavy drinkers. Load up on B12 supplements on a daily basis, or ask your physician for a B12 shot. Eating a nutrient-balanced diet that includes healthy sources of fat, protein and complex carbohydrates will help minimize the physical side of cravings as well.
- Get a sponsor. If you're not already in a 12-step program, it's important to have a sponsor or support person you can turn to when a craving strikes. This person can offer valuable encouragement and advice during critical times.