How to Overcome Alcohol Cravings in the First Days of Sobriety

How to Overcome Alcohol Cravings in the First Days of Sobriety

How to Overcome Alcohol Cravings in the First Days of Sobriety

During the first days of sobriety, many people struggle with strong alcohol cravings. Find out how to overcome those cravings here.

Keyword(s): first days

People recovering from alcohol addiction report a wide range of symptoms, from night sweats and shaking to paranoia and brain fog.

One of the most common symptoms experienced during addiction recovery is alcohol cravings. Cravings tend to be stronger during the first days of recovery, showing up as soon as day seven after quitting alcohol. More intense cravings, along with general irritability, are commonly reported after day twelve. 

After a month of being sober, many of the physical withdrawal symptoms have decreased, but cravings do not suddenly disappear. It takes real work to resist relapse and remain sober. The good news is that cravings don't last forever—and having a plan can help you get through them.

Below, we provide tips for overcoming cravings in the early recovery stages. 

Identify and Remove Your Triggers

Triggers can be any number of internal and external things—a person, a place, a song, a situation, a favorite bar, an emotion, or a memory.

When do you feel the strongest urge to drink? Identifying the source of your trigger allows you to confront and remove it. 

For example, if one of your triggers is seeing someone you used to party with, removing them from your life is the best solution. If feeling stressed and anxious is a trigger for you, you can find and use healthier ways to cope, such as exercise. If certain restaurants give you strong cravings, you can make a concerted effort to avoid them. 

Surround Yourself With Other Sober People

If you're the only person in your friend group that becomes sober, it's likely you'll find it difficult to remain so in their presence. You might be tempted to "just have one." 

But your sobriety is more important.

Unfortunately, becoming sober might look like cutting ties with people you used to drink with. Having a sober support group—whether that's friends, family, or a partner—is crucial in maintaining sobriety. If you're surrounded by like-minded people who understand what you're going through, you'll find it easier to resist the urge to drink. 

Set boundaries, cultivate a healthy relationship with yourself, and look for supportive people to be around. 

Have an Action Plan for When Cravings Take Place

Typically, cravings are a short-term situation.

If you can distract yourself when the urge presents itself, you're more likely to see the other side of a craving. Having an action plan in place ensures you're not just sitting there focusing on the craving. 

Your action plan can take any form you want it to. You might place a call to a sponsor, attend a meeting, write a gratitude list, or go to the gym. If being bored is a trigger for you, stay busy by starting a new hobby, hanging with friends and family, or attending support groups. 

The First Days of Recovery Are the Hardest 

Addiction recovery is a long, challenging, and worthwhile journey.

In the first days of being sober, you're likely to experience more intense cravings. Overcome these urges by removing triggers, surrounding yourself with sober people, and having a plan of action to keep you busy. Your sobriety is worth the work.

Mark your beginning with one of our 24-hour AA coins—something you can carry with you as a symbol of pride and a reminder to honor your journey.