Medically Reviewed by Dr. Mohammed Saeed, MD.
Making the choice to watch your alcohol intake is an admirable one, but you’ll soon be faced with a new challenge: cravings. Sadly, there’s not just one simple solution to this problem. In fact, one thing you should try to accept early on in your recovery is that your cravings may never stop completely. The good news, though, is with the right balance of clinical treatment and lifestyle changes, reducing your cravings is definitely possible.
Medications To Reduce Alcohol Cravings
There are currently three FDA-approved medications for managing alcohol cravings: Disulfiram, Naltrexone, and Acamprosate. If you’re pursuing recovery through a treatment program or with the help of a professional medical team, your doctor may prescribe one or more of these to help you with your withdrawal symptoms or cravings. These medications are reported to have some undesirable side effects, so they may not be for everyone.
Recognize Your Triggers
Many times during the addiction recovery process, you’ll be faced with cravings that seem to come out of nowhere at random times throughout your day. But, really, these cravings are induced subconsciously by triggers in your environment. Triggers will be different for everyone, but they can be anything from people and places to feeling that your brain once associated with unhealthy behaviors.
As part of your treatment program, you may participate in group or individual therapy sessions that work with you to identify your triggers so you can avoid them. This can be helpful as you create a new lifestyle for yourself.
Focus On Your Health
A nutrient-rich diet and a regular exercise routine have been proven to aid in maintaining sobriety.
Nutrition is linked directly to your mental health, so an imbalanced diet could cause low energy, depressive moods, and anxiety— a recipe for relapse. In addition, eating foods that improve your digestion will help the body to better absorb amino acids, vitamins, and minerals, which will reduce cravings.
Exercise actually triggers the release of the same neurotransmitters that alcohol does when consumed. So, as you gradually transition into an exercise routine that’s right for you, this physical activity is actually satisfying your craving.
Of course, none of these tips on their own will ever eliminate your cravings completely and the best avenue for treatment will always be through a reputable treatment facility. Make sure you go into this knowing that sobriety is a life-long journey and that mastering methods to avoid and manage cravings could be the key that saves you from future relapse.