One of the biggest misconceptions surrounding alcoholism is that people with an alcohol problem can just stop drinking when they want to. Onlookers who don’t understand addiction often think that drug abuse is a choice. In reality, addiction is a disease that changes the brain’s chemistry and robs people of their ability to choose sober living. The good news is that resources are available in Los Angeles and the surrounding areas for people to receive the help they need, to stop their alcohol cravings, and overcome alcoholism.
To achieve long-term sobriety, people with alcoholism have to learn how to stop alcohol cravings. Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done. Let’s talk a bit more about these cravings, how they affect the body and mind, and how to successfully stop them.
What Are Alcohol Cravings?
Scientifically, a drug craving is a neurocognitive and emotional response to certain external and internal cues. These cues trigger a desire to use a substance, such as alcohol, to experience a euphoric effect. Also, cravings are the body’s way of getting more of a substance that it’s dependent on to function and avoid withdrawal.
Drug cravings increase the desire for a drug and are the body’s way of communicating that it needs it. Oftentimes, cravings are so intense that the drug becomes all that a person can think about. This is what makes learning how to prevent alcohol cravings so hard.
Alcohol is one of the easiest drugs for people to get. It’s available in most stores around the country. Unfortunately, this availability leads people to believe that it isn’t very dangerous. On the contrary, alcohol is extremely addictive and causes intense cravings.
Additionally, most people believe that drinking is cool because of corporate advertising. The media has encouraged and painted drinking alcohol as a normal and desirable activity for parties and other social gatherings.
What Triggers Alcohol Cravings?
Like with any drug, what triggers cravings for alcohol differs from one person to another. For example, stressful situations can trigger people to want to drink. However, cravings for alcohol go well beyond stress.
A trigger can be a place or event. For instance, some people feel like they have to drink when they meet with friends. On the other hand, cravings for alcohol can start when they arrive at a party or work. In these situations, outside influences are triggering the cravings.
Internal triggers, such as stress or depression, can be caused by an external force. Breaking up with a lover, getting fired from a job, or making a bad investment are all stressful events that may trigger the need to start drinking in people who abuse alcohol regularly.
Signs and Symptoms Of Alcohol Cravings
Before people can stop alcohol cravings, they must know that their symptoms are the cause of cravings. Also, there are signs and symptoms that people can look for in loved ones to determine if they’re craving alcohol. Keep in mind that these signs can be both physical and emotional, which makes some of them hard to pinpoint:
- Poor appetite
- Sleeping problems, such as insomnia
- Irresistible urge to drink alcohol
- Sudden mood changes
It’s common for people who have strong cravings to be irritated easily or be short-tempered when they’re not drinking. If they drink at a certain time every day, their irritability gets more intense the longer that they go without having a drink.
How Long Do Alcohol Cravings Last?
There are only two ways to stop cravings for alcohol. One is to continue to drink. However, this is just a temporary solution. The cravings will return as soon as people experience another trigger or go a long time without drinking.
The second and better solution is sober living. With sober living, they learn how to live without relying on alcohol. While cravings can still arise, they learn methods to mitigate and stop alcohol cravings. As a result, they can avoid relapse after they get clean.
The most intense cravings that people get for alcohol arise during the withdrawal phase of alcohol. Withdrawal usually starts within the first 24 hours of not having a drink. Then, the severity of the symptoms tends to peak around 48 to 72 hours.
Afterward, the symptoms of withdrawal start to lessen. Although, the cravings for alcohol can arise again when people experience triggers. To enjoy sober living, they have to manage the cravings.
How to Stop Alcohol Cravings
Learning how to control cravings is one of the most important steps to achieving sober living. It starts with knowing and avoiding triggers. Also, individuals need to remain busy. Benjamin Franklin once said, “Idle hands are the devil’s playthings.” Keeping busy gives them less opportunity to drink or even think about drinking.
Knowing the triggers will only go so far, though. After all, there are certain triggers that people simply can’t avoid. For instance, stress is a common trigger but also a part of life that’s bound to come up at some point. Knowing how to react is just as essential as learning to identify triggers. That’s why long-term addiction recovery often centers around holistic treatment.
Evidence-based holistic treatment doesn’t just focus on treating the body. It treats the mind as well, which is known as a “whole-person approach” to treatment. It helps individuals identify underlying factors that may have led to their drug abuse problem. By addressing these underlying factors, they can learn how to control cravings even better.
A big part of sober living is mindfulness-based cognitive therapy. This evidence-based psychotherapy uses a combination of meditation, yoga, and a present-oriented attitude to help individuals better identify their true feelings.
The meditation and yoga parts of the treatment are intended to heal the mind, body, and spirit. Through these activities, people can learn how to control stress. Meditation can help them stay present at the moment too. This present-oriented attitude makes them accountable for their actions.
Research has shown that a lot of benefits come from mindfulness therapy. Mindfulness meditation supports a healthy heart by lowering stress levels. By staying mindful, people can lessen the loss of cognitive abilities as they age or as the result of Alzheimer’s disease.
On the topic of reducing stress, mindfulness meditation improves the immune system. Part of the reason is that stress hinders the immune system’s ability to protect the body. By reducing stress through the use of meditation, people are improving their immune systems, which will keep them healthy.
Lastly, mindfulness meditation can help individuals recover from psychological trauma faster. Understanding how to deal with psychological trauma is vital when dealing with psychological issues, such as anxiety and depression.
Benefits of Sober Living
There are several programs out there that can help people overcome drug addiction, but one of the most effective is sober living. Such a program can help them in ways that other programs simply can’t.
Entering a sober living program typically occurs after detox and rehab. Think of it as a steppingstone between rehab and real life. It’s designed in a way to give people the support that they need as they get the first taste of socializing as newly sober individuals. The program provides a structure that helps them develop a healthy routine for when they leave the program and live on their own.
A sober living program also provides access to professional assistance. As people start to experience life again, they’re bound to run into bumps along the way. Having access to professional assistance ensures that these bumps don’t turn into a relapse.
Another benefit of such a program is the level of companionship that it provides. The days and weeks after rehab are some of the most trying times in people’s lives. In a sober living program, they don’t have to do it alone. They get to live with other individuals who are going through the same things. They can lean on each other for support.
Lastly, it’s important to note that a sober program can be fun. It’s not all about learning to live a sober life. It’s also about people learning to have fun and spend leisure time without drinking alcohol. Just because they get sober, doesn’t mean that they can’t have fun and joy in their lives.
Turn To Casa Nuevo Vida For Help With Sober Living
Are you ready to kick your alcohol cravings to the curb? Do you want to try a sober living program? If so, reach out to our friendly staff at Casa Nuevo Vida.
We can help you get your drug cravings under control and return the power of choice to you. During our sober living program, you can stay in one of our homes for as long as you need our professional assistance. Some of the other programs that we offer include:
- Gender-specific treatment
- Meditation and yoga
- Holistic treatment
- Nutrition and wellness program