The science behind alcohol cravings and how to manage them

So, the first thing to say when we talk about cravings is that they are very common.

The vast majority of people trying to cut back from alcohol will experience them, it is a normal part of the process. 

This does not mean you are an alcoholic; most people go through this- you are not alone!

At the start of your journey, willpower and motivation are optimal, but after a few days, this can start to wane. This is when cravings may strike. 

Think about when you may have started a new diet, you are all fired up, thinking about all the new clothes you are going to buy, how amazing you are going to feel, then the novelty wears off, the cravings start to hit.

The good news? You can absolutely overcome these. Its all about what works for you!

Cravings can feel intense and powerful, they can hit you with such a force- you feel like you have been knocked off your feet. But, if you can distract yourself, you can ride them out.

The science tells us that the average craving doesn’t tend to last more than 6-10 minutes, however it will last longer if you comply with it and feed it the attention it desires!

If you are drinking regularly, you will have built a tolerance to alcohol, so it is possible that our bodies will experience physical cravings. Cravings will of course be commonly triggered by situations or emotions. 

A good visualisation to use for a craving, is that of a wave. It starts out slow, building energy and momentum, to its crescendo, the intensity, the power. It then crashes and falls away.

A tried and tested mindset tool to use is to acknowledge that this feeling is temporary, this too shall pass, if you will.

So, lets focus on that distraction technique- its important to find something else to fill your mind within those moments.

This may be difficult to stat with, it may be uncomfortable, but as with everything, with practise, it will get better, honestly.

The more you practise, the less time it will consume you for, the cravings will lessen, both in frequency and in length.

This is just one part of expanding your alcohol-free toolbox, the more techniques you learn and gather, the more you will find what works best for you. 

The tip is to really learn to lean into what you actually need in that moment- what are you using alcohol for? So, it could be that you find taking yourself out for a walk, moving your body helps. You need to be active in that moment to help calm the craving. 

You may be needing calming and relaxation, searching for some peace. So pop on a grounding meditation, close your eyes and take yourself away to your sanctuary.

Delay- this is a great one! Tell yourself if you still want the drink in 30 minutes you will revisit it, see how you feel then. But you will still need to distract yourself for that half hour, this won’t work if you are basically giving in to it and just counting down the clock! 

Alcohol free alternatives- gamechanger! Especially in the early days. Grab your favourite glass and fill it with any one of the fabulous AF alternatives that are out there. It’s the placebo effect alright, fail safe go to.

Finally, cake! So yes, there will be those that scorn and say you are just swapping one thing for another. (This type of comment will not come out of the mouth of anyone AF! Only a drinker!) 

This is your journey,  you need to do what works for you. Let’s face it, calorie wise, 600 in a bottle of wine? I would far rather consume a slice of my favourite baked goods than fill my body with poison. Just me?

We dig deeper into cravings plus so much more within our community groups! Check out our alcohol free challenge and membership for more details!

P.S. Our next alcohol-free challenge starts on 29th April. Be sure to sign up to reserve your spot!

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