Learning how to stop alcohol cravings before they cause lasting damage can be a vital part of a person’s effort to achieve long-term recovery from alcohol use disorder.
Like other types of addiction, alcoholism is a chronic, progressive disease. The symptoms of alcoholism cannot be cured – but when a person receives proper care and effective support, they can achieve lifelong sobriety.
Among the many benefits of receiving professional treatment for alcoholism is that a person can learn how to stop their alcohol cravings and manage any other symptoms that may threaten their continued recovery.
What Causes Alcohol Cravings?
The term “alcohol cravings” can refer to both physical and psychological symptoms.
Psychological cravings for alcohol are often prompted by specific situations or types of experiences. The circumstances that prompt psychological cravings for alcohol are often referred to as triggers. During treatment, people can learn how to identify their triggers and develop healthier ways to respond, without resorting to alcohol abuse.
Physical cravings can describe the distressing withdrawal symptoms that a person experiences when they try to stop drinking. Depending on the severity of a person’s addiction to alcohol, withdrawal symptoms can include headaches, anxiety, nausea, insomnia, and a host of other unpleasant reactions. The knowledge that these symptoms can be alleviated by drinking can quickly overwhelm a person’s desire to end their alcohol abuse.
Medications, therapy, and certain behavioral techniques can all play an important role in the effort to stop alcohol cravings before they become overwhelming.
Medications for Alcohol Cravings
Alcohol withdrawal can be both painful and dangerous. In certain circumstances, trying to stop abusing alcohol without professional help can even be life-threatening. For many people, medication-assisted treatment, or MAT, can be an essential service.
MAT is a comprehensive approach to alcoholism treatment that includes prescription medication and therapy. MAT for alcohol addiction may include one or more of the following medications:
- Acamprosate: This medication can ease alcohol cravings. It is typically prescribed after a person has completed withdrawal. Acamprosate may be used on either a short- or long-term basis.
- Disulfiram: Disulfiram increases a person’s sensitivity to alcohol. A person who drinks alcohol while taking disulfiram may quickly experience intense headaches, nausea, blurred vision, and other distressing symptoms.
- Naltrexone: This medication blocks the brain receptors that are affected by alcohol. In addition to diminishing alcohol cravings, naltrexone can also prevent the release of dopamine (a neurotransmitter that is associated with pleasure) when a person drinks.
Medications can be extremely beneficial elements of a comprehensive alcohol addiction treatment plan. But medication alone cannot help a person develop healthy ways of responding to triggers. This is why therapy is also an integral component of effective MAT programs for alcoholism.
Therapy to Stop Alcohol Cravings
Therapy sessions are supportive forums where people can address the issues and challenges that may have prompted them to start abusing alcohol. Therapy can also help people begin to make the lifestyle and behavioral changes that will support long-term recovery from alcohol addiction.
During therapy, people can develop healthy strategies for managing stress, avoiding conflicts, and effectively addressing other circumstances that could push them back into the destructive pattern of alcohol abuse. These strategies can help them manage any self-defeating urges they experience and stop alcohol cravings from undermining their recovery.
Therapy sessions can also introduce people to the benefits of sharing support with other members of the recovery community. Untreated alcohol addiction can have an isolating impact on a person’s life. The acts of giving and receiving support can help people form meaningful connections with others who are working toward similar goals.
Techniques to Stop Alcohol Cravings
Effective treatment for alcoholism should equip a person with a variety of tools and techniques to help them resist relapse and remain in recovery. Many of these techniques can also help people stop alcohol cravings from causing significant harm.
One important technique for managing cravings and other symptoms of alcoholism is to form a strong personal support network. The members of a person’s support network can help them remain accountable. They can also be vital sources of advice when the individual is struggling with a situation that threatens their relapse.
Mindfulness, meditation, yoga and other holistic practices can also help people manage their urges and cravings. These techniques promote a healthy mind-body connection. They also provide people with a means of responding to distress without resorting to alcohol abuse or other self-defeating reactions.
Managing time effectively, following a schedule, eating nutritious meals, and getting ample amounts of exercise can also have a significant effect on a person’s ability to remain in recovery. For example, finding productive ways to fill the time that a person previously spent acquiring and using alcohol is extremely important. Diet and exercise can strengthen both the body and the mind, which can improve a person’s ability to resist alcohol cravings and manage other unhealthy urges.
Alcohol Addiction Treatment in Atlanta
Learning how to stop alcohol cravings is just one benefit of receiving effective, comprehensive care for alcohol addiction. At Buckhead Behavioral Health, we can assess the full scope of your needs and provide you with customized services that will prepare you for long-term success. With our help, you can achieve a much healthier and more hopeful future. Learn more about our admissions process today