Alcohol Withdrawal and Sugar Cravings

Alcohol Withdrawal and Sugar Cravings

Chocolate chip cookies.

Chocolate doughnuts with sprinkles.

Sour gummy worms.

All of these sweets will either send someone into a sugar coma or fuel a craving from alcohol withdrawal.

In this article, we will delve into the reasons behind alcohol withdrawal and sugar cravings, their impact on the brain, and strategies to overcome them. Read and explore the fascinating connection between alcohol withdrawal and sugar cravings.

Understanding the Role of the Brain

When you quit drinking, you might assume that your sugar cravings are a result of your body being accustomed to the high sugar content found in alcoholic beverages. While this assumption holds some truth, there is a deeper link between alcohol and sugar cravings that starts in the brain.

Numerous studies have shown that consuming sweets triggers the release of dopamine, a reward-based chemical that contributes to feelings of pleasure and well-being. Interestingly, alcohol can have a similar effect on the brain. Once you stop drinking, your body recognizes that it can achieve a comparable state of reward through sugar consumption. In fact, research published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs reveals that sugar affects many of the same neural pathways in the brain as alcohol does.

The Transfer Addiction Phenomenon: Alcohol Withdrawal to Sugar Cravings

The term "transfer addiction" refers to the situation where one addictive behavior, such as alcohol consumption, is replaced with another. Given the similarities in how alcohol and sugar affect the brain, it's no surprise that individuals who have quit drinking often find themselves grappling with sugar cravings. The association between alcohol withdrawal and sugar cravings can become a challenging aspect of the recovery process.

It's important to recognize that addiction is not solely about the substance itself but also encompasses underlying psychological and emotional factors. Treatment centers, such as Silver Maple Recovery, offer trauma-informed care and cognitive-behavioral therapy to address the root causes of addictive behavior and help individuals overcome transfer addictions.

Low Blood Sugar and Heavy Drinking

One common consequence of heavy alcohol consumption is low blood sugar levels. The liver, responsible for processing alcohol%2C%20a%20known%20carcinogen.), normally releases glycogen into the blood. However, alcohol inhibits this process, leading to a drop in blood sugar. Consequently, individuals who have struggled with alcohol addiction often experience frequent alcohol withdrawal and sugar cravings.

When blood sugar levels are low, the body naturally craves sweets as a way to counteract the imbalance. However, indulging in sugar may provide temporary relief, but it does not offer a long-term solution. In fact, blood sugar levels will plummet again, perpetuating the cycle of cravings. If you suffer from low blood sugar, it is essential to consult with your doctor, as dietary modifications can significantly alleviate your sugar cravings.

Overcoming Alcohol Withdrawal and Sugar Cravings

Now that we understand the connection of an alcoholic craving sugar, let's explore strategies to manage these cravings effectively. The good news is that you have the power to overcome craving sugar after quitting alcohol, just as you have made the courageous decision to stop drinking. Here are some practical steps you can take:

1. Practice Self-Compassion

Be proud of yourself for choosing sobriety. Celebrate your achievements and use them as motivation to make further progress. Recognize that overcoming sugar cravings is a process that requires patience and self-compassion.

2. Create a Balanced Diet Plan

Research and develop a diet plan that reduces the amount of sugar in your daily intake. Focus on incorporating whole foods, such as fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins, into your meals. These nutrient-dense options will help keep you satisfied and minimize sugar cravings.

3. Build a Support System

Seek support from your loved ones, friends, or a support group who understand your journey and can provide guidance during challenging times. Having a strong support system can make a significant difference in managing cravings and staying committed to your sobriety goals.

4. Engage in Regular Exercise

Physical activity not only promotes overall well-being but can also help regulate blood sugar levels. Incorporate exercise into your daily routine, whether it's going for a walk, practicing yoga, or engaging in your favorite sport. Exercise releases endorphins, which can elevate your mood and reduce cravings.

5. Find Healthy Alternatives

Instead of reaching for sugary treats when cravings strike, explore healthier alternatives. Satisfy your sweet tooth with naturally sweetened options like fresh fruit, Greek yogurt, or dark chocolate with a high cocoa content. These alternatives can help fulfill your cravings while providing nutritional benefits.

6. Stay Hydrated

Dehydration can sometimes be mistaken for hunger or cravings. Ensure you stay properly hydrated by drinking an adequate amount of water throughout the day. Keeping your body hydrated can help minimize sugar cravings and support overall well-being.

7. Practice Mindful Eating

Pay attention to your body's signals of hunger and fullness. Eat mindfully, savoring each bite and being present in the moment. By cultivating a mindful eating practice, you can develop a healthier relationship with food and reduce impulsive sugar cravings.

8. Seek Professional Guidance

If you find that your sugar cravings persist or significantly impact your daily life, consider seeking professional guidance. A healthcare provider or a registered dietitian can provide personalized recommendations and strategies to address your specific needs.


Quitting alcohol is a courageous decision that can lead to a brighter future. However, it's not uncommon to experience sugar cravings during alcohol withdrawal.

Remember, no one is alone in this journey. Reach out for support, celebrate progress, and embrace a healthier, alcohol-free life. Everyone has the strength to overcome craving sugar after stopping alcohol, and each step forward brings them closer to a life of fulfillment and well-being.


University Hospitals- Are ‘Natural’ Sweeteners Healthier Than Sugar?

Health Line- 10 Alternatives to Refined Sugar

Johns Hopkins Medicine- Facts About Sugar and Sugar Substitutes

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