More than 100 million people around the world suffer from an alcohol use disorder. If you’re a heavy alcohol consumer, you probably experience frequent alcohol cravings that are hard to ignore. These cravings usually indicate a potentially bigger problem – alcohol dependence. People crave alcohol because of a variety of reasons such as stress, low blood sugar, or to escape the pain of the past.
When you drink alcohol, it triggers the release of endorphins (feel-good hormones) in your brain. These hormones give you pleasure and make you feel happy. However, alcohol is also a depressant that dulls your senses and causes intoxication. Some people drink alcohol to drown their sorrows or to deal with grief. Sadly, alcoholism is a perilous disease that causes severe mental and physical deterioration. There are certainly better ways to handle stress and heartache. You can learn How To Stop Alcohol Cravings and get your life back on track.
The science behind alcohol cravings
The human brain has a complex reward system that releases dopamine – a key neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of happiness and alertness – whenever it’s activated by reinforcing stimuli. Our brains also have the ability to create and modify neural pathways throughout our lifetime, a remarkable characteristic known as neuroplasticity. This allows us to learn new languages, skills and concepts through training and practice. Excessive alcohol consumption for lengthy periods can rewire your brain and cause its reward system to be activated whenever you drink.
Alcohol cravings usually occur when an alcoholic individual goes through an emotional experience. Negative emotions such as anger, guilt and disillusionment can trigger alcoholic cravings, especially among recovering alcoholics. However, positive emotional mindsets can also bring out these cravings. Interestingly, alcohol cravings can be activated by different cues and triggers. This could be the smell of chocolate cake for some or the sound of fizzling beverages for others.
How to control alcohol cravings
- Recognize your triggers
The first step to curbing those incessant alcohol cravings should involve identifying your specific triggers. There are two major triggers that could bring up the strong urge to drink: internal and external triggers. The former is conjured by your emotional state and can be controlled by practicing mindfulness. Whenever your alcoholic urges are set off, pause for a while to understand what exactly you’re feeling at that moment. Reminding yourself about the bigger picture will prevent you from falling back into alcoholism. External triggers can consist of places, people, seasons and anything else that reminds you of alcohol. The best way to curb these triggers by avoiding them altogether.
- Learn to cope with unavoidable triggers
Some triggers can be extremely hard to avoid. However, you can still cope with them using a variety of strategies. These include talking about your high-risk triggers with your trusted friend. You can also distract yourself by engaging in healthy activities such as working out, meditating, watching fun videos or listening to music. Find a way to ride the wave without caving into your drinking urges.
- Seek professional help
When push comes to shove, you should seek help from a professional who can identify deep-rooted issues that could be causing your alcohol cravings to persist. In addition, there are numerous forums and online resources that can help you deal with these cravings.