In 2012, 5.9 percent of all global deaths were contributed to alcohol consumption. On average, the misuse of alcohol costs the United States $250 billion per year. And, the US is responsible for 11 percent of all alcohol consumption worldwide.
Even if you aren’t an alcoholic, it’s pretty clear that almost all of us could afford to cut back on our alcohol consumption a bit.
If the statistics above don’t bother you, consider that alcohol can lead to weight gain, premature aging, and stress.
But, when a strong craving for alcohol comes on, it can be pretty easy to ignore all of the facts and cave into having a few drinks.
Luckily though, there are things you can do to put these cravings to a halt.
Read on to learn how to stop alcohol cravings.
1. Put It in Writing
They say that the pen is mightier than the sword. In this case, we’d also argue that the pen is mightier than the bottle.
The next time you feel a craving to drink coming on, grab a pen and a notebook and write down all of the reasons you shouldn’t drink.
For example, you can write down how not drinking makes you look and feel healthier, improves your relationships, and makes you more productive and motivated.
If writing it down isn’t enough, there is plenty of information out there to scare you straight about the detrimental effects of alcohol. For example, you could read this article about alcohol and hair loss to help cut your cravings.
2. Find a Replacement
When you have a craving for alcohol, it doesn’t do you any good to just sit there and think about your craving and how hard it is to say no.
To keep your cravings from getting the best of you, the best thing to do is stay busy.
In other words, pick something constructive to do that will distract you every time a craving comes on. This could be something as simple as meditating, going for a walk, calling a friend, playing with your pet, or reading a chapter in a book.
Pretty soon, you may even find that these replacement activities are much more enjoyable than drinking alcohol.
3. Out of Sight, Out of Mind
If you’ve ever been on a diet, you know how detrimental it can be to keep junk food around the house.
Well, the same thing goes for alcohol. Putting yourself in situations where you are surrounded by alcohol will make it very tough to say no to your cravings.
Therefore, it’s a good idea to keep alcohol completely out of the house. You should also avoid spending time at parties, bars, and other places where alcohol is typically present. It may even be helpful to stay away from “friends” who constantly try to persuade you to drink with them.
If you feel guilty about turning down invitations that involve alcohol, then just remind yourself that one day you will have the willpower to attend these events without succumbing to your cravings.
Plus, anyone who is a true friend will understand your need to turn down the invitation.
4. Build a Support Network
Having a good support network in place is one of the best things you can do to fight off alcohol cravings.
With the right support network, you will always have someone to call when a craving creeps up on you. This person can just serve as a distraction until the craving passes. Or, they can sometimes even give you helpful advice as to what they do when they feel an alcohol craving coming on.
Your friends and family are obviously great people to include in your support network, but you should also try to find people who have been in similar situations as you and will be able to understand what you’re going through.
You may find these people through AA or other types of support groups.
5. Figure Out Your Triggers
For many people, figuring out what triggers their cravings for alcohol is the best way to make them stop.
For the next week or so, pay attention to every time an alcohol craving comes on. Make note of what you’re doing, where you are, and what time it is. You’ll likely realize that there is something that occurs every time you get a craving.
For example, some people find that their cravings for alcohol are strongest when they’re alone. Others find that their cravings are strongest when they’re lounging and watching TV. Or, some find that they get cravings when they spend time with particular people.
Once you know what triggers you, it is best to do what you can to avoid these triggers. However, this certainly won’t always be possible. For example, if you crave alcohol when you’re alone, you won’t always be able to run over to someone’s house to spend time with them.
But, just being aware of the trigger can actually be very powerful. When you’re aware of the trigger, you can remind yourself why you’re craving alcohol, and you can tell yourself that the craving will pass.
6. Set Alcohol-Free Days
If you’re someone who’s addicted to alcohol, you should obviously aim to be alcohol-free every day.
However, if you are just trying to cut down on your drinking, it can help to choose days in which you are alcohol-free. This will make cutting down on alcohol and denying your cravings feel much more manageable.
On the days you abstain from drinking, make sure you have activities planned during the times you’d normally have a drink.
While this may not help cut your cravings immediately, your non-drinking days will soon become a habit. Pretty soon, you’ll realize you don’t even crave alcohol on these days, and then you can think about adding more non-drinking days to the list.
How to Stop Alcohol Cravings: Are You Ready?
As you can see, there are many simple things you can do to stop alcohol cravings.
If you have any questions about how to stop alcohol cravings, please let us know in the comments below.
And, be sure to check out these 5 healthy habits that can replace addictive behaviors.