So, you’ve made the decision to quit drinking. This is fantastic news–for you, for your health, your budget, and your loved ones.
However, making the decision to stop drinking is the easy part. The hard part comes in when a craving or urge to drink hits.
It could be while you are with friends, at a family function, or unwinding for the evening. Actually, a craving can happen anywhere, anytime. This means you need to have a plan for when alcohol cravings strike beforehand.
Keep reading for 7 helpful tips on not drinking alcohol–even when it stares you in the face.
1. It’s Not an Excuse to Eat Sweets
If you didn’t already know, alcohol contains a lot of sugar. Early in sobriety, you may have a sudden alcohol craving hit you. When this happens, it might be your brain craving the sugar it once got from alcohol.
This means eating something sweet may help curb the initial urge to drink–at least until you can refocus on something else.
However, the excess sugar does lead to weight gain and other health problems like diabetes. To combat this, you should routinely eat a healthy, balanced diet. Save the occasional sweet for when you have unbearable cravings.
2. Make Manageable Time Frames
When you have an intense urge to drink, it may seem like it lasts forever and you’re teetering on the edge. This is a scary feeling.
Anyone with long-term sobriety will be able to relate. They’ll tell you that the best thing to do is break time into hours, minutes, or even seconds.
Focus on staying sober for the next 30 seconds, or the next 5 minutes. Do this until the craving passes.
3. The Thousand-Pound Phone
One of the most difficult things to do in sobriety is reaching out for help when you need it. Picking up the phone doesn’t mean you’re weak–it means you’re committed to your sobriety.
Try calling a friend or family member that is familiar with your situation. If this doesn’t appeal to you or they don’t answer, call another friend and ask about their day.
Even if you don’t discuss your alcohol cravings, distracting yourself with other people’s lives may help. Sometimes those calls end up being uplifting in other ways that you didn’t even know you needed.
4. Have a (Non-Alcoholic) Drink
If you want a drink, have a drink–as long as it’s a non-alcoholic one.
Try a cup of coffee or tea. Or if you’re in a situation where many people are drinking alcohol and you feel out of place, try soda water with lemon or lime.
Being able to have a non-alcoholic drink or “mocktail” in your hand may put you more at ease. It also will lessen the number of people asking if you’d like something you’re trying to avoid.
5. Always Have a Way Out
If you attend events that are alcohol-centric, don’t ride with someone. Drive yourself so if you feel uneasy or get the urge to drink, you can leave.
Tell people goodbye if you’d like, or don’t. At that point, it is truly about remaining sober and getting out of a situation that could threaten your recovery.
If you do choose to ride with someone, do so with another sober person. At the very least, choose someone who will understand what you mean when you say, “It’s time to go.”
Sometimes it’s not as simple as leaving the event. Take this into account when deciding whether to attend. Consider bringing a sober plus one and letting the host know you may have to leave early.
6. Play the Tape Through
When you have an urge to drink alcohol, remember what got you sober in the first place. Most people don’t choose to quit drinking because life is going well, so remember the problems alcohol has caused.
Remember your progress each day and how far you’ve come. Look at the consequences of picking up that first drink and how your support system will feel when they learn of this choice.
Most of all, think forward to the next day when you wake up with a hangover. Not only will you have a physical hangover but you will also be disappointed in yourself for giving in to your craving for alcohol.
With this said, consider drinking a “choice.” Don’t tell yourself that you “can’t” have a drink, but that you CHOOSE not to.
That choice, in itself, is something to be proud of.
7. Practice Mindfulness
Meditation and mindfulness are both helpful tools to help deal with urges to drink. Mindfulness tends to be a bit easier to jump into at a moment’s notice.
When finding yourself overwhelmed with the worst craving you’ve ever faced, you may think it’ll never pass. You’ve tried the above tips and they just aren’t working!
You can practice a minute or two (or five) of mindfulness anywhere you’d like. It doesn’t have to be quiet–you just have to breathe and be aware of your surroundings.
This practice is as easy as feeling the cool breath enter your nostrils and the warm exhale on your lips. Then notice the rise and fall of your chest and stomach with each breath.
Focus on the people around you, the details of the art on the walls, or how perfectly a flower arrangement is formed. Look at and appreciate the small attributes of the things you find interesting.
Resist Temptation: A Lesson in Strength and Patience
These cravings may make minutes feel like hours, but it will pass. Learning how to wait out these urges is a great lesson in patience and a testament to your strength and growth as a person.
It’s important to remember that you can’t do this alone. A support system is vital. What is even more important is someone that understands the depths of problems caused by drinking.
If you’re noticing unmanageable cravings or urges to drink, consider finding someone to hold you accountable for your sobriety. It just may be what you need to beat your addiction once and for all.
Ready to quit drinking for good? Click here to get started with the Stop Drinking Expert