When going through the alcohol addiction treatment process and after leaving rehab, it’s important to plan ahead for alcohol cravings. You will have cravings for alcohol for months or even years after quitting. Temptations to drink can be spurred by situations, physical urges, emotions, and thoughts.
When alcohol cravings occur, it’s important to remind yourself of your reasons for getting sober and staying clean. It’s also important to have avoidance plans in place ahead of time. Not having plans in place is setting yourself up for failure. Alcohol rehab centers will help you devise your plans of action and education you on the best ways for coping with alcoholism.
There are many ways to fight the cravings to drink. You need to discover which ones work for you to prevent relapse. Approximately 90 percent of recovering alcoholics relapse in the first four years after treatment.1 Chances of successful recovery are greatly increased through treatment at an inpatient alcohol rehab center and participating in counseling, taking drugs to treat alcohol addiction, learning what triggers your alcohol cravings, and devising plans of action to distract yourself from alcohol cravings.
Your alcohol rehab center will connect you with a counselor that will help you in your recovery process. Alcohol counseling is an important part of the recovery process. Stress, boredom, depression, anxiety, negative thoughts, and memories of past trauma can spur alcohol cravings.2
Alcohol counseling will not only address alcohol addiction but any links that it may have with traumatic events whether physical, sexual, or other. Receiving counseling for any connected trauma will reduce the craving for alcohol.3
During your counseling sessions, you will learn skills for preventing addiction relapse and how to avoid situations that trigger alcohol cravings.
Medications for Managing Alcohol Cravings
Many time alcohol detox requires the use of medication. Medications may be prescribed to manage alcohol craving due to withdrawal symptoms and after detox to deter drinking and prevent relapse. These medications will vary according to individual needs.
Situations That Trigger Alcohol Cravings
Become consciously aware of the situations that trigger alcohol cravings. Many of these situations may be avoidable and for those which aren’t, coping skills can be learned.
Drinking may be associated with certain activities, people, places, or events. Do not place yourself in situations that will test your resolve.
People impact your thinking, self-esteem, and decisions you make. It’s important to surround yourself with the right people. Alcoholics may often have to give up negative relationships to remain sober. When with friends or family that drink, suggest activities and places that wouldn’t lead to drinking.
Journaling is a great way to keep up with your triggers, your feelings, and reasons for abstaining.
Distractions From Alcohol Cravings
When alcohol cravings occur, distractions can effectively channel thought and attention away from cravings by focusing your energy elsewhere. Distractions allow time for cravings to subside.
Some popular ways of dealing with alcohol cravings are:
- Talk to a family member, friend, or counselor
- Go for a walk
- Go for a drive
- Participate in a hobby
- Listening to music
- Run errands
- Perform household chores
- Reading a book
- Watching a movie
- Play a game
- Participate in a religious activity
Remain focused and be patient with yourself. Alcohol cravings will cause you to feel pulled between relapse and sobriety. Overcoming each temptation will make you stronger and build your resolve. Though it will be a struggle to stay sober, you can overcome alcohol cravings and maintain sobriety.