How to Curb Alcohol Cravings

How to Curb Alcohol Cravings

Overcoming alcohol cravings is difficult, but is’s an important step for anyone looking to cut down on drinking or maintain sobriety. These cravings can be powerful and hard to resist, but with the right strategies and support, they can be kept at bay effectively.

This guide provides a comprehensive overview of various techniques and approaches to help you combat alcohol cravings. From understanding the nature of cravings and identifying triggers to employing practical strategies and building a support network, this guide aims to empower you with the tools you need to navigate and conquer the urge to drink.

Understanding and Curbing Alcohol Cravings

Before exploring how to curb alcohol cravings effectively, it's crucial to comprehend their nature and origins. Alcohol cravings are a combination of thoughts, physical sensations, and emotions that create a strong desire to consume alcohol, even when you may not want to. These cravings can be triggered by a range of factors, including external cues, internal triggers, stress, and negative emotions. By becoming aware of the triggers and patterns associated with your cravings, you can develop effective strategies to manage and reduce their intensity.

External Triggers

External triggers are people, places, things, or specific times of day that remind you of drinking or provide opportunities for drinking. These tempting situations can be more predictable and avoidable compared to internal triggers. For example, being in a bar or attending social events where alcohol is readily available can act as external triggers for alcohol cravings. Recognizing and avoiding these situations, particularly in the early stages of recovery, can help minimize the likelihood of experiencing intense cravings.

Internal Triggers

Internal triggers can be more difficult to identify and manage because they often seem to arise unexpectedly. These triggers can include fleeting thoughts, positive or negative emotions, physical sensations, or memories associated with past alcohol use. For instance, feeling stressed, excited, frustrated, or experiencing physical discomfort can trigger cravings for alcohol. Understanding your personal internal triggers and developing strategies to cope with them is crucial for curbing alcohol cravings effectively.

Proven Strategies for Curbing Alcohol Cravings

Curbing alcohol cravings requires a comprehensive approach, incorporating various techniques to manage the urge to drink effectively. Here are some effective strategies to help you curb alcohol cravings and maintain your sobriety:

1. Recognize and Accept Cravings

The first step in managing alcohol cravings is to recognize and accept them as a normal part of the recovery process. Cravings are time-limited and typically last for about 15-20 minutes. Remind yourself that cravings will pass, and you have the strength to resist them. By acknowledging and accepting cravings instead of fighting them, you can reduce their power over you.

2. Distract Yourself

Distraction techniques can be highly effective in diverting your attention away from cravings. Engage in activities that keep your mind occupied and provide a sense of fulfillment. Some examples include going for a walk, calling a friend or family member, practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing or meditation, reading a book, or pursuing a hobby. Find what works best for you and have a list of distractions ready for when cravings strike.

3. Challenge Negative Thoughts

Negative thoughts and rationalizations can often fuel alcohol cravings. Challenge these thoughts by examining their validity and considering the negative consequences of giving in to cravings. Remind yourself of your reasons for cutting back or quitting alcohol and the positive changes you've experienced since making that decision. Replace negative thoughts with positive affirmations and empowering statements to strengthen your resolve.

"It couldn't hurt to have just one drink."

Challenge: "Wait a minute—what am I thinking? One drink could lead to more, and I've made a commitment to sobriety. I am choosing to stay strong and prioritize my health and well-being."

4. Practice Mindfulness and Self-Reflection

Mindfulness techniques can help you develop a greater awareness of your thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations. By practicing mindfulness, you can observe how you react to alcohol cravings without judgment and learn to let them pass without acting on them. Take a moment to notice the sensations in your body, the thoughts arising in your mind, and the emotions present. Cultivate a non-reactive stance and allow cravings to come and go like waves in the ocean.

5. Build a Support Network

Having a strong support network is essential for managing alcohol cravings and maintaining sobriety. Surround yourself with individuals who understand and support your recovery journey. This can include friends, family members, support groups, or a sponsor if you're involved in a 12-step program. Reach out to your support network when you're experiencing cravings or feeling vulnerable. Talking to someone who understands can provide reassurance and help you stay on track.

6. Avoid Triggers

Identify the people, places, and situations that trigger alcohol cravings for you and take proactive steps to avoid or minimize exposure to them. If certain social events or environments make it challenging to resist the urge to drink, consider finding alternative activities or creating new routines that don't involve alcohol. It's important to prioritize your well-being and make choices that align with your recovery goals.

7. Develop Healthy Coping Mechanisms

Developing healthy coping mechanisms is crucial in curbing alcohol cravings and understanding how to reduce alcohol cravings when faced with stress, negative emotions, or discomfort. Explore different coping mechanisms that work for you, such as exercise, journaling, listening to music, practicing relaxation techniques, or engaging in creative outlets like painting or crafting. Discover activities that bring you joy, relaxation, and fulfillment, and incorporate them into your daily routine to support your overall well-being.

8. Practice Self-Care

Taking care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally is vital for managing alcohol cravings. Prioritize self-care activities that promote overall wellness, such as getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, staying hydrated, and engaging in regular exercise. When your body and mind are well-nourished, you'll be better equipped to cope with cravings and maintain your sobriety.

9. Set Realistic Goals and Celebrate Milestones

Setting realistic goals and celebrating milestones along your recovery journey can provide a sense of accomplishment and motivation. Break down your long-term goals into smaller, achievable steps, and acknowledge your progress along the way. Celebrate each milestone, whether it's a week, a month, or a year of sobriety. Reward yourself with something meaningful, such as a favorite activity, a small treat, or spending time with loved ones who support your recovery.

10. Seek Professional Help

If you're struggling to manage alcohol cravings or find that they persist despite your best efforts, consider seeking professional help. A healthcare professional or addiction specialist can provide guidance, support, and additional resources tailored to your specific needs. They may recommend evidence-based treatments, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), motivational interviewing, or medication-assisted treatment, to help you effectively manage cravings and maintain your sobriety.


11. Practice Relapse Prevention Techniques

Relapse prevention techniques are essential for long-term success in managing alcohol cravings. Develop a relapse prevention plan that includes strategies for navigating high-risk situations, coping with stress, and seeking support when needed. Continuously educate yourself about addiction, recovery, and relapse prevention to stay informed and equipped with the tools necessary for maintaining your sobriety.

12. Stay Committed to Your Recovery Journey

Managing alcohol cravings is an ongoing process that requires commitment and perseverance. Stay connected to your recovery goals and remind yourself of the reasons why you chose to cut back or quit drinking. Surround yourself with positive influences, engage in self-reflection, and continue to prioritize your well-being. Remember, you have the strength within you to overcome cravings and lead a healthier, alcohol-free life.


Managing how to curb alcohol cravings is a journey that requires self-awareness, resilience, and a strong support system. By utilizing effective strategies such as recognizing and accepting cravings, distracting yourself, challenging negative thoughts, practicing mindfulness, building a support network, avoiding triggers, engaging in healthy coping mechanisms, practicing self-care, setting realistic goals, seeking professional help when needed, and practicing relapse prevention techniques, you can successfully curb alcohol cravings and maintain your sobriety.

These methods are not only effective for curbing alcohol cravings but also play a crucial role in reducing alcohol cravings over time. Remember, you are not alone in this journey; resources and support are available to help you every step of the way. Stay committed, stay strong, and embrace the healthier, alcohol-free life you deserve.


Priory - Ways to Stop Alcohol CravingsNational Institutes of Health - How to Stop Alcohol Cravings - Handling the Urges to Drink

Oxford Treatment Center - How to Manage Alcohol Cravings

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