How Can I Stop My Alcohol Cravings?

How Can I Stop My Alcohol Cravings?

Tackling alcohol cravings is a big hurdle for many looking to reduce or quit their alcohol intake. The urge to drink can be strong, sparked by a mix of habit, brain chemistry changes, and environmental cues. However, with the right strategies, it's possible to manage these cravings and take back control. This guide offers a blend of immediate and long-term techniques to help you combat the urge to drink. From understanding why cravings happen to practical tips like distraction and mindfulness, each tip can be another helpful weapon in your arsenal.

Whether you're navigating cravings on your own or considering professional help, we will explore a range of techniques and approaches to help you answer the question, “How do you stop craving for alcohol?” and regain control over your relationship with alcohol.

Understanding Alcohol Cravings

Before we explore effective strategies on how to stop alcohol cravings, it's essential to understand why these cravings occur. Anyone can experience alcohol cravings, but they are particularly common in individuals who drink regularly or engage in heavy drinking. Cravings are also recognized as part of alcohol use disorder (AUD) in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

Causes of Alcohol Cravings

Multiple factors fuel the onset of alcohol cravings, which is crucial in understanding how one stops the craving for alcohol. One of the primary causes is the changes that alcohol induces in brain chemistry. Over time, alcohol can alter the neurotransmitters in the brain, leading to tolerance and withdrawal symptoms. As a result, individuals may experience anxiety and intense cravings for alcohol when they are not drinking.

Habit formation is another significant factor in the development of alcohol cravings. People often turn to alcohol as a means of coping with stress or as a reward for positive experiences. The pleasurable feelings associated with drinking can create a conditioned response, leading to cravings in specific situations or environments.

Triggers for Alcohol Cravings

Both internal and external cues can trigger alcohol cravings. Internal triggers are generally associated with emotions, thoughts, physical sensations, or memories that prompt the urge to drink. External triggers, on the other hand, are environmental cues linked to alcohol, such as specific locations, times of day, or social situations.

It's essential to recognize and understand your unique triggers for alcohol cravings. By identifying these triggers, you can develop effective strategies to avoid or manage them, ultimately reducing the intensity and frequency of cravings.

Immediate Strategies to Stop Alcohol Cravings

When you experience an alcohol craving, it can be challenging to resist the urge to drink. However, there are several techniques you can employ to help you manage and even stop cravings in the moment. These strategies are designed to distract you from the craving and alleviate its intensity.

1. Acknowledge the Craving and Ride it Out

Acknowledging the craving is your initial step towards mastering how to stop alcohol cravings. Recognize that cravings are temporary and will pass with time. Remind yourself that the intensity of the craving will diminish within a few minutes. You can regain control over your actions and thoughts by accepting the craving and allowing it to run its course without giving in to it.

2. Distract Yourself

Distracting yourself with engaging and enjoyable activities serves as a powerful method to halt alcohol cravings in their tracks. Create a list of distractions you can turn to when a craving arises. This list can include activities such as listening to music, reading a book, going for a walk, watching something funny, or engaging in a hobby. By redirecting your focus to these activities, you can shift your attention away from the craving and reduce its power over you.

3. Reach Out for Support

During moments of craving, it can be incredibly helpful to reach out to a supportive friend or loved one. Share your feelings and thoughts with someone who understands your desire to cut back on alcohol. Even a brief conversation or catching up with a friend can provide emotional support and distract you from the craving.

4. Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness exercises can be an effective tool for managing alcohol cravings. Engaging in deep breathing or relaxation exercises, grounding techniques, or physical activities like yoga can help you stay present and soothe yourself during moments of craving. By anchoring your awareness in the present moment, you can reduce the intensity of the craving and regain a sense of control.

5. Embrace Curiosity

Interestingly enough, another way on how to stop craving alcohol is instead of approaching cravings with a sense of restriction or deprivation, try embracing curiosity. Rather than giving in to the craving, ask yourself how it would feel to move through the craving without drinking. By adopting a curious mindset, you can approach the craving as an opportunity for growth and change, empowering yourself to resist the urge and explore new coping methods.

Sustainable Techniques to Stop Cravings

While short-term techniques can provide immediate relief from alcohol cravings, it's crucial to develop long-term strategies to address the underlying causes of these cravings. By implementing these strategies, you can create lasting changes in your relationship with alcohol and reduce the frequency and intensity of cravings over time.

1. Identify and Avoid Triggers

One of the most effective long-term strategies for stopping alcohol cravings is to identify and avoid triggers. Take the time to identify the specific people, places, and situations that trigger your urge to drink. By recognizing these triggers, you can develop strategies to minimize exposure to them, especially in the early stages of recovery when cravings are most intense. Avoiding triggers can involve rearranging your living space, choosing alcohol-free social activities, altering your daily routines, and practicing self-care to address your physical and emotional needs.

2. Build a Personalized Toolkit

Developing a personalized toolkit of coping strategies is essential for managing and overcoming alcohol cravings. This toolkit should include a range of techniques that work specifically for you. Consider both physical and "invisible" tools. Physical tools include comforting books, favorite snacks, treasured possessions, or a journal. Invisible tools can consist of mindfulness exercises, breathing techniques, self-compassionate affirmations, and empowering mantras. By building a toolkit tailored to your needs, you can create a safety net of resources to rely on during moments of craving.

3. Break the Habit Loop

Understanding the habit loop can be pivotal in overcoming alcohol cravings. The habit loop consists of three elements: the cue or trigger, the routine or behavior, and the reward. You can experiment with new routines that provide alternative rewards by identifying the specific cues, routines, and rewards associated with your drinking habit. For example, if stress triggers your craving, you can replace the routine of drinking with a stress-relieving activity such as exercise or meditation. Breaking the habit loop can help rewire your brain and diminish the power of alcohol cravings.

4. Seek Professional Support

If you find it challenging to manage alcohol cravings on your own or if your cravings persist despite your efforts, seeking professional support can be immensely beneficial. A therapist or counselor specializing in addiction and recovery can provide guidance, tools, and strategies tailored to your specific needs. They can help you explore the underlying factors contributing to your cravings and work with you to develop personalized coping mechanisms. Additionally, healthcare professionals can prescribe medications that can reduce the desire to drink or alleviate withdrawal symptoms, making it easier to stop drinking.

Medication for Alcohol Cravings

Medications can play a pivotal role in the strategy to stop alcohol cravings for some individuals. Several FDA-approved medications can be prescribed to individuals struggling with alcohol use disorder. These medications include naltrexone (Revia or Vivitrol), acamprosate (Campral), and disulfiram (Antabuse). Naltrexone works by reducing alcohol cravings and blocking the pleasurable effects of alcohol. Acamprosate helps individuals maintain abstinence from alcohol by reducing the distressing symptoms of protracted withdrawal. Disulfiram creates unpleasant physical effects when alcohol is consumed, acting as a deterrent to drinking. It's essential to consult with a healthcare professional to determine if medication is a suitable option for managing your alcohol cravings.


Mastering how to stop alcohol cravings demands a thorough and diversified strategy. By combining short-term techniques, such as distraction and mindfulness, with long-term strategies, like avoiding triggers and building a personalized toolkit, you can effectively manage and reduce alcohol cravings. Additionally, seeking professional support and considering medication can provide valuable resources and assistance on your journey to overcome alcohol cravings.

Remember, stopping alcohol cravings is a process that requires patience, self-compassion, and perseverance. With determination and the right support, you can regain control of your relationship with alcohol and lead a healthier, more fulfilling life.


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

Healthline - Alcohol Cravings: Why They Happen and How to Manage

Washburn House -How to Stop Alcohol Cravings

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