Atkinson further explained that long-term alcohol use might also cause shrinkage because alcohol is a diuretic and causes water to be removed from your body. The authors note that the brain’s frontal regions play several important roles, including decision-making, emotional regulation, and working memory. Less volume in these regions could make people less able to perform these functions. The participants were matched with a control group of 34 people of a similar age who were either non-drinkers or light drinkers. Guidelines for alcohol consumption appear to be shifting. Although your craving feels like it will last forever, the intensity of your desire will generally pass within minutes.

  • Still, they’re pretty common, especially if you drink regularly or your alcohol use falls into the “heavy drinking” category (binge drinking 5 or more days in the last month).
  • About 50% of people who drink in this group have alcohol use disorder.
  • Millions of readers rely on for free, evidence-based resources to understand and navigate mental health challenges.

Our experts continually monitor the health and wellness space, and we update our articles when new information becomes available. Learning to work through difficult emotions and handle these challenges in more productive ways can improve your relationships and overall well-being, not to mention help reduce the urge to drink. Maybe you experience your strongest cravings when you feel anxious or stressed or find yourself facing conflict with someone you care about. She notes that it can help to avoid your triggers as much as possible in early recovery, since triggers are often most intense when you first stop drinking. But even when you don’t know anyone else trying to make a similar change, friends and loved ones can still offer emotional support.

Produce prescriptions may promote better heart health

Typically, the best source to learn behavioral interventions on how to deal with alcohol cravings is in formal substance use disorder therapy. There are numerous different techniques that can be utilized for different individuals to deal with cravings and reduce the risk of relapse. Therapists can instruct individuals in progressive muscle relaxation and diaphragmatic breathing that can be learned rather rapidly, and these can become tools to deal with cravings. Individuals can then focus on the more complicated aspects of cravings, such as learning about how to fight alcohol cravings, using distraction techniques, understanding triggers, etc.

how to reduce alcohol cravings

If you’ve put all of the above tools into practice, you might be wondering, ‘how long until I stop experiencing cravings? ’ As with most stages of the alcohol recovery timeline, the answer is unique to you. That said, as you how to reduce alcohol cravings remove triggers and develop new coping techniques, you should experience fewer and less intense alcohol cravings. Your brain learns that behavior, and begins to crave alcohol whenever you are feeling depressed or anxious.

Getting Professional Help

A person may experience alcohol cravings for various reasons. These may include changes in brain chemistry, triggers, and habit formation. If stress or other difficult emotions are triggers for your cravings, it’s a good idea to learn some stress-busting or anxiety-relieving techniques to help you cope with these emotions. These can include activities like mindfulness, meditation or yoga. If you learn coping strategies to use when you’re feeling stressed, upset, anxious or angry, this means that you’re less likely to reach for an alcoholic drink when you’re feeling this way.

how to reduce alcohol cravings

Disulfiram (brand name Antabuse) can be used if you’re trying to achieve abstinence but are concerned you may relapse, or if you’ve had previous relapses. If you’re prescribed acamprosate, the course usually starts as soon as you begin withdrawal from alcohol and can last for up to 6 months. Ways you can try to relieve stress include reading, listening to music, going for a walk, and taking a bath. You may also have regular blood tests so the health of your liver can be carefully monitored. Playing the tape through can help with any type of craving, from a hankering for sweets to a cigarette to pills. If your brain is begging you for a quick fix, play that quick fix out to its longer end.

How to Stop Drinking: Making a Plan That Works for You

Acamprosate may help correct these alcohol-induced changes. This can reduce symptoms of alcohol withdrawal and help lower cravings. Topiramate is generally prescribed to treat seizures and migraines, but also seems to help with alcohol use disorder.

You’d end up spending more than you wanted, not to mention that you’d be driving drunk. At the end of the day, one of the most important tools you have at your disposal is self-compassion. Instead of criticizing yourself for having a hard time or slipping up and having a drink, remember that no one’s perfect.

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