How To Stop Alcohol Cravings And The Urge To Drink

Do you buy a bottle of wine on the way home from work, or have a couple of beers with the boys after a hard day, maybe a few sips of sherry while cooking, or drink a vodka or two while watching TV? Sounds familiar? Many of us slip into mild habits when it comes to consuming alcohol, and so long as drinking remains mild and controllable, there should be no major call for concern.

However, the routines we fall into can be a slippery slope to developing a dependency on alcohol. Although it is a legalised substance, it accounts for significant numbers of premature deaths, all of which could have been prevented by treating the problem before spiralling out of control. 

Drink awareness campaigns are forever pumping out guidance and recommendations, but the stark reality is that more and more people are falling victim to alcohol use disorder.

In this blog, we will look at why people crave alcohol and how to curb the urge to drink before excessive drinking develops into alcohol addiction.

What Triggers The Urge To Drink More Alcohol?

To respond to the question with a specific answer would be erroneous without knowing the reasons or motive behind the desire of wanting to consume larger amounts of alcohol but there are certain factors associated with having that extra drink.

Teenagers have always wanted to experiment with alcohol within social gatherings, whether on a weekend out together or during university internships, and underage drinking is still as prominent as it was years ago, but even though consumption is age-restricted, the temptation today of downing a few beers and getting drunk has become more like a compulsory routine of downing whatever it takes to find enjoyment. We are all witnesses to young people becoming out of control, some requiring serious medical attention before regaining normality, and the scenes of so many youngsters possessed by alcohol seem to be a common sight. This radical form of drinking is abusive and many innocent people are feeling peer pressure to participate in such detrimental activities.

Not just teenagers, a lot of adults seem to be abusing alcohol in different ways. Society is very demanding and there are too many ups and downs to mention, but divorce, homelessness, unemployment, exclusion, and many more situations are the perfect nests for nurturing substance abuse.

The main problem with alcohol is that it can lead to addiction if consumed regularly and in ever-increasing quantities, and this can cause serious damage to health with prolonged use. Most of us have consumed more alcohol than we should and can relate to the unpleasant effects of a typical hangover the next morning yet have continued to drink even after enduring sickness, thumping headaches, and dehydration. Regardless, for many, in current times, it would appear these horrible side effects are part and parcel of having a good night out and don’t deter the continuance of consuming more alcohol.

However, for whatever reason, the time may come for someone to decide to quit drinking and tell themselves they can cut back and handle the urges to drink by stopping drinking and going cold turkey. Some people who use alcohol moderately may quite easily stop drinking entirely without any problem, but for people with alcohol tolerance and are regular users of the substance, the cold turkey approach or attempting to stop alone may prove more difficult due to withdrawal symptoms and may not be able to stop their cravings.

What Are Alcohol Cravings?

Alcohol cravings appear when someone who regularly drinks alcohol finds themselves in a situation where they lack the substance to quench their desire. People who consume large amounts of alcohol need more and more of the substance to satisfy their needs, and this desire leads to addiction. When you suddenly stop or reduce your habitual alcohol intake, cravings appear, sometimes without being able to control them, and can tempt you to drink again which is known as relapse.

Dealing with cravings is difficult and with most other substances, it becomes a challenge to stop drinking completely even in the early stages of alcoholism, and trying to cut back on consumption can thrust your desire to drink even further. Cravings form one of many withdrawal symptoms related to alcohol misuse and are perhaps the most challenging and unpleasant part of eradicating substance abuse. Like quitting smoking, there is no “do this” or “do that” approach that guarantees an easy way of eliminating the substance; instead, one needs to understand and look at the problem and figure out the best way to reduce cravings and continue a normal life without wanting to drink.

If you have tried to stop drinking or reduce intake and find you have a strong urge or craving for alcohol, you may already have developed dependence, and cravings may be too difficult to defeat and external triggers are too much to handle. Physical sensations may produce irritability, anxiety, and shaking; extreme cases can produce slow breathing and even cardiac arrest when intoxication becomes alcohol poisoning.

To recognise and manage alcohol cravings, it is important to understand the root cause of these cravings and the importance of finding treatment options if alcohol withdrawal presents any significant concerns.

Understanding The Root Cause Of Cravings

When you decide to quit drinking alcohol, you may experience cravings but each individual has a make-up of several factors that may contribute to the severity of this symptom. Social influences may appear to be a significant physical factor and addressing peer pressure and societal norms can play a huge part in using alcohol as a coping mechanism. Still, there may also be psychological issues due to underlying mental health issues contributing to the desire for alcohol such as the need to help with anxiety, stress, and depression.

Another perspective is that alcohol use may be biological and can stem from genetics making some people more prone to developing an alcohol dependence and others may have a higher tolerance. It has been said many a time, that people adopt habits from their parents and grandparents, and alcohol use is simply handed down from generation to generation, which may have some truth genetically but otherwise, it is no excuse for heavy consumption.

Understanding all these root causes can essentially help to manage and overcome cravings and other withdrawal symptoms and should be regarded as the fundamental combination of factors to treat alcohol cravings and address the cause rather than address the issue of just wanting to stop drinking.

Find Alternative Ways To Help Stop Alcohol Cravings

Once you have decided to quit or reduce your alcohol consumption, you may experience strong cravings and want to drink more as the body adjusts to going without the substance. To help stop these cravings, there are some coping strategies you may use to try to stay in control while avoiding alcohol.

Ask Friends And Family To Help

When you’re trying to cut out alcohol, the urge or desire making you want to drink can be quite intense and make you feel irritable or nervous, even depressed. These feelings are quite normal and are not a sign of weakness but you could easily fall back into old habits if you don’t have support to help you overcome and fight alcohol cravings. The support of your family and friends is valuable in encouraging you and will help you become stronger, especially when you hit a low ebb and need that extra boost.

Avoid External And Internal Triggers

Try to avoid the triggers that can set off intense cravings, such as changing the places or times you previously associated with drinking. This may mean going straight home from work rather than heading to a bar or the cinema on a Friday evening instead of meeting friends in a club. Difficult emotions can lead you to crave a drink so you must try to avoid places or situations that can cause feelings of anxiety or stress.

Find New Hobbies And Interests

Look at ways of incorporating different hobbies and interests into your daily lifestyle that can distract you and help curb alcohol cravings. These don’t have to be expensive or time-consuming but can be used as a way to manage the triggers. Often people find activities like cooking or gardening a good form of distraction as you are more focused on what you are doing mentally and physically rather than reading a book or watching films. The more stimulating the activity, the less time you spend thinking about the need to drink.

Consult A Health Professional

If typical cravings don’t become more manageable over a couple of weeks or seem more intense and you are struggling, you should consult a health professional who will be able to assess your condition and may offer prescribed medication for alcohol withdrawal symptoms that can help lessen cravings. You can always reach out to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) at any time for positive advice and support.

Remember that cravings are quite normal but after a while, they will start to fade and subside although in the early stages of sobriety, it is recommended to continue to avoid the triggers associated with alcohol.

Signs of Alcohol Addiction

Heavy drinking can eventually lead to alcohol addiction, which is a severe health condition and, at times, can prove fatal. If you or someone you know has a dependency on the substance and is unable to manage consumption and struggling with a drinking habit, you should never attempt to quit alone by going cold turkey as the withdrawal symptoms can be extremely dangerous and not just a matter of curbing cravings.

Instead, it is crucial to seek professional help as soon as possible, who will determine the need for alcohol addiction treatment and will assess your overall well-being to ensure minimal risk or further harm to the body. This action is essential as, if left untreated, numerous consequences can significantly damage someone’s health and wellness, both physically and mentally.

Where To Find Treatment

Sivana Bali is a luxury drug and alcohol rehab located on the beautiful island of Bali, Indonesia. We specialise in treating a broad spectrum of disorders, including alcohol addiction. We offer alcohol detox treatment and provide a specific programme for alcohol addiction treatment. Alcohol addiction can be a silent struggle for many and can have a detrimental impact on people’s lives; for this reason, Sivana Bali provides the perfect refuge to recover and rediscover a balanced and healthy life.

If you are concerned about alcohol addiction and require information, why don’t you give us a call now, our friendly staff will gladly answer all your questions and concerns and provide you with the options we have available and about our residential treatment.  We want to let you know that you are not alone, and we would be more than happy to help you with your queries.

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