The Mental Battle Against Alcohol Cravings
In the U.S., about 50% of individuals treated for alcoholism relapse within a year after treatment. While this is an unfortunate statistic, it reveals some truths about alcohol recovery.
While overcoming the initial addiction is tough on its own, recognizing how alcohol cravings contribute to the process is key. Relapsing into old habits is always a looming threat for those recovering from alcohol addiction.
But what are alcohol cravings? How do you cope with it?
That's what we'll be looking at today. In this article, we'll be outlining the mental battle of dealing with alcohol cravings and the mental toughness this battle requires.
What is an Alcohol Craving?
Alcohol craving often occurs during, or immediately after someone goes through alcohol recovery. It puts you in a state of anticipation by making you want to drink the way you did before.
This can be caused by withdrawal or being around others who might have a casual drink. Craving can be detrimental to those recovering from alcohol addiction since it could set them back months of rehab.
Cravings occur because of different stimuli, meaning one person's cravings might be set off by things completely different from another. They're highly subjective, and coping with them requires a lot of mental toughness.
Cultivating Mental Toughness During Sobriety
It's easy for those struggling with alcohol cravings to become complacent. That is, they feel their urges to drink again and end up doing so.
People with alcohol cravings often take up other behaviors like overeating or sleeping in - to cope with sudden urges. This is understandable, and it's important to recognize that it's not someone's fault for succumbing to urges.
One of the best ways to resist these cravings is to build mental toughness. You can combat negative ideas about being a quitter by cultivating positive habits.
Strategies to Curb Alcohol Cravings
So how do you build that toughness?
Because cravings are subjective, strategies will differ from person to person. Here are some general tips for building your own.
Understand Different Triggers
There are external and internal triggers for setting off cravings.
External triggers are people, places, or things that remind you of drinking or give you opportunities. These create what are called "high-risk" situations.
Internal triggers cause an urge to drink to just appear in your head. It could be set off by a fleeting thought or a random emotion.
Either way, it's important to know when these triggers are happening and reminding yourself to not buy into them.
Avoid "High-Risk" Situations
Certain situations make it easier for you to decide it's okay to drink. If you're around friends that are having a drink, you might very well succumb to your cravings.
Don't be afraid to say no to an invitation. It'll only be one "no", and it doesn't mean you can't hang out with them later.
Learn to Cope With Unavoidable Triggers
Blocking internal triggers or avoiding certain situations won't be enough. Coping with these urges is key to maintaining your sobriety.
Remind yourself why you made this change. Find physical reminders for why you want to resist alcohol cravings.
You can distract yourself with another activity, like exercise. Or you can simply accept your cravings as unavoidable and know the thought will pass with time.
There are plenty of other coping mechanisms that can keep you from buying into your cravings. Find the one that's right for you.
Battle Alcohol Cravings Effectively
Overcoming alcohol cravings is just another obstacle on the road to sobriety. Knowing how to deal with it and finding your own strategies is key to resisting these urges.
Use this article to understand how to build that strategy and tackle alcohol cravings today.
For more articles on sobriety, check out our blog.