Are There Effective Substitutes for Alcohol Cravings?

Are There Effective Substitutes for Alcohol Cravings?

Battling the urge to drink can be one of the trickiest parts of overcoming alcohol addiction. Cravings for alcohol can be intense, often striking when you're least prepared, potentially putting your hard-earned progress at risk. But there's good news: there are real working strategies and substitutes that can help you resist these urges and stay on your path to sobriety.

This guide goes over a range of alternatives and coping mechanisms designed to help you navigate through cravings, from engaging in fulfilling activities to seeking the support of loved ones. With the right approach, you can manage these cravings and continue progressing in your recovery journey.

Understanding Alcohol Cravings

Alcohol cravings are powerful urges or desires to consume alcohol, even when you have made a conscious decision to quit or cut back. Various factors, such as stress, social situations, or emotional distress, can trigger these cravings. Recognizing and understanding your triggers is an essential step in managing alcohol cravings effectively.

External Triggers

External triggers are people, places, or things in your environment that remind you of drinking or provide opportunities to consume alcohol. These tempting situations can be more predictable and avoidable compared to internal triggers. Examples of external triggers include bars, parties, or even certain friends who are still actively drinking.

Internal Triggers

Internal triggers, on the other hand, are thoughts, emotions, or physical sensations that prompt the urge to drink. These triggers can be more challenging to identify as they may seem to "pop up" out of nowhere. Examples of internal triggers include fleeting thoughts, positive emotions like excitement, negative emotions like frustration, and physical sensations such as headaches or tension.

The Duration of Alcohol Cravings

The duration of alcohol cravings can vary from person to person. Some individuals may experience short-lived cravings that pass quickly, while others may struggle with longer-lasting urges. Factors such as the severity of your alcohol use disorder and the length of time since your last drink can influence the intensity and duration of cravings. It's important to remember that cravings are temporary and will eventually subside, even though they may feel overwhelming in the moment.

Substitutes for Alcohol Cravings: Coping Strategies

While alcohol cravings can be intense, it's important to remember that they are temporary and controllable. You can effectively manage and overcome these cravings with the right strategies and support. Here are some substitutes for alcohol cravings that can help you stay strong on your recovery journey:

1. Recognize and Accept Cravings

The first step in managing alcohol cravings is to recognize and accept their presence. Understand that cravings are a normal part of recovery and do not signify failure. By acknowledging the cravings, you can take control of your thoughts and emotions.

2. Distract Yourself with Healthy Activities

When cravings strike, distracting yourself with healthy activities can be incredibly helpful. Engage in hobbies or activities like reading, exercising, gardening, or listening to music. These activities will redirect your focus and provide a healthy outlet for your energy.

3. Practice Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques

Mindfulness and relaxation techniques can be powerful tools in managing alcohol cravings. Techniques such as

  • Deep breathing exercises
  • Meditation
  • and Yoga

can help calm your mind and reduce stress. By practicing these techniques regularly, you can develop greater control over your cravings.

4. Seek Support from Loved Ones

Having a strong support system is crucial during your recovery journey. Reach out to trusted friends or family members who can provide encouragement and understanding. Sharing your struggles and victories with others who have been through similar experiences can be immensely beneficial.

5. Create a Supportive Environment

“Motivation is Overvalued. Environment Often Matters More” - James Clear

To minimize the risk of relapse, it's incredibly important to create a supportive environment. Remove any alcohol from your home and avoid social situations where alcohol is present. Surround yourself with positive influences and engage in activities that do not revolve around drinking.

6. Find Healthy Alternatives

Discovering adequate substitutes for alcohol cravings can help mitigate these urges without compromising your recovery. Consider substituting alcoholic beverages with non-alcoholic options such as mocktails, herbal teas, or sparkling water with fruit infusions. These alternatives can provide a similar sensory experience without the harmful effects of alcohol.

7. Stay Hydrated

Proper hydration is essential for maintaining overall well-being and managing cravings. Drinking adequate water throughout the day can help curb cravings and keep your body functioning optimally. Carry a water bottle with you and make it a habit to sip water regularly.

8. Focus on Nutrition

Adopting a healthy and balanced diet can support your recovery and reduce alcohol cravings. To have great alcohol-craving substitutes, ensure your foods are nutrient-rich, such as:

  • Lean proteins
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Dairy products
  • Leafy greens
  • Whole grains

These foods provide essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that promote physical and mental well-being.

9. Stay Active and Exercise

Regular physical activity and exercise are not only a great substitute for alcohol cravings but can also significantly benefit your recovery journey. Activities like walking, jogging, yoga, or strength training can help reduce stress, boost mood, and increase your overall well-being. Find an exercise routine you enjoy and make it a regular part of your life.

10. Practice Self-Care

Prioritizing self-care is essential for managing cravings and maintaining sobriety. Take time for yourself to relax, unwind, and engage in activities that bring joy and fulfillment. Whether reading a book, taking a bubble bath, or practicing mindfulness, self-care activities can help reduce stress and promote emotional well-being.

11. Seek Professional Help

If you find it challenging to manage alcohol cravings on your own and aren’t able to find any substitutes for your alcohol cravings, don't hesitate to seek professional help. A therapist or counselor with experience in addiction recovery can provide valuable guidance and support. They can help you develop personalized coping strategies and address underlying issues that contribute to your cravings.

12. Join Support Groups

Joining support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) can provide a valuable network of individuals who understand your struggles. These groups offer a safe and non-judgmental space for sharing experiences, seeking advice, and finding encouragement. Attending regular meetings can reinforce your commitment to sobriety and provide ongoing support.


Managing alcohol cravings with viable substitutes for alcohol cravings is key to maintaining sobriety and achieving long-term recovery. By implementing a combination of strategies such as finding healthy distractions, seeking support, practicing stress-relief techniques, and exploring alternative beverages, you can effectively manage cravings and stay on track with your sobriety goals.

Remember, alcohol cravings are temporary, and with time and practice, they will become less frequent and less intense. Stay committed to your recovery journey, prioritize self-care, and celebrate your progress along the way. You have the strength and resilience to overcome alcohol cravings and live a fulfilling, sober life.


National Institutes of Health (.gov) - How to Stop Alcohol Cravings - Handling the Urges to Drink

Oxford Treatment Center - How to Manage Alcohol Cravings

Washburn House - Foods That Help Alcohol Cravings | Addiction Treatment

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