After the first few days feeling rather liberated that you are alcohol-free, your motivation might start to fizzle out. You could start feeling cravings for a drink – but this doesn’t mean you have a drinking problem. This is a normal reaction from the body when it is experiencing change.
A lot of the time, the cravings aren’t too much about booze, but more a particular trigger or emotion. You might be seeking a little comfort from something that has stressed or upset you that day. If alcohol has been there for you in the past through these emotions, it’s only natural that this springs to mind. If we can replace this with something else, then we can get through tough moments without the downsides that come along with alcohol.
If you think that you are addicted to alcohol, you must remember that you should not attempt to quit alone. Going ‘cold turkey’ can be extremely dangerous, and you will need professional medical help to stop abusing alcohol safely. You may also need alcohol rehab.
How can I deal with alcohol cravings?
Distract yourself – The more we focus on a craving – the more energy we’re giving to them. If you think about how much you want to have a drink and imagine the situation, the craving will last a lot longer. A great fact to remember is that cravings usually only last around 6 minutes. If you figure out a distraction for that amount of time, you’ll most likely have got rid of it.
Ride the urge wave – Another way of dealing with alcohol cravings is through a mindfulness technique called ‘urge surfing’. This is where we think of our craving as a wave – it builds up slowly, building intensity before it falls away quite quickly. Rather than fighting the feeling, sit and think about how it makes you feel, quite literally, inside your body. Notice when the feeling increases and subsidies. After a while, it should fade away.
Feed it something else – An alternative is to find something else for you to do when you get a craving for an alcoholic drink. This needs to be something that is fun and interesting however, otherwise, it won’t work. If you always give a craving a hot chocolate and a bubble bath instead, you might start associating the feeling with that, and not alcohol.
Refusing drinks – This can be a huge struggle when someone who doesn’t know your past tries to convince you to drink. When you’re refusing, make eye contact to show you’re being serious, and be firm. Changing the subject quickly should help the conversation move on, and suggest another drink you can have instead. If they keep pressing you to drink, ask them to stop. Practice responses that you can use in these situations.
If you can work out how to stop your cravings, and be more conscious about how much you drink – you really will feel amazing.