Sometimes detoxing is not the hardest part of kicking an alcohol habit. Often, the problem comes after treatment has been completed. This is when a person becomes wide open for those nasty cravings that can literally send him/her back into a bottomless pit. The problem with alcohol cravings is that they can hit you out of nowhere. It doesn’t matter if you are in a group of people having a great time or all alone, you are always going to be prone to cravings if you are an alcoholic. The good news is that there are some things you can do to help you get through the cravings without picking up a drink. The important thing to remember is that you cannot get drunk if you don’t take a drink!
Call Someone in Your Support Group
If you have been to treatment for alcoholism then you have probably also been directed to some 12 step meetings. In these meetings you will find a lot of other people going through the same things you are. Some of them were rock bottom alcoholics who lived in the street at one time and now they have been clean for decades. It is possible to arrest the disease of alcoholism but it is going to take some effort. By picking up the phone and talking through your cravings, you may be able to avoid picking up a drink. Many times the person you call will come right over and sit with you until you feel stronger.
The 10 Minute Rule
There is a lot of research to suggest that cravings, whether they are for a certain food, a drink or a drug will only last 10 minutes from start to finish. This means that if you can occupy your mind for 10 minutes with something unrelated to alcohol, you may just get through that craving. Of course this is not to say you won’t get another one in an hour but if you can find a way to get through each one, they will begin to become less frequent after awhile. Some people have had success with the 10 minute rule and others have had to sit on their hands and grit their teeth for hours when dealing with a craving. The good news is that once you have learned how to deal with the cravings, they get a little easier to handle.
While drug and alcohol treatment centers and 12 step programs are excellent first steps in helping an alcoholic stop drinking, most of the time extensive therapy is needed to discover the root of the problem. Without addressing the very thing that began the downward spiral that lead you to the place you are in now, you cannot truly begin the healing process. They say that the actual act of drinking is only a symptom of the disease of alcoholism. This means that whatever the problem was that lead you to drink in the first place must be discovered and dealt with. For this reason additional therapy may provide some insight on what it is you need to come to terms with in order to grow past your dysfunctional behaviors. Sometimes alcoholics are the product of past abuse or even a parent who was an alcoholic. If these issues are not dealt with chances are the cravings for alcohol will remain in full force.
Medications to Help Curb Alcohol Cravings
There are many pharmaceutical drugs which have been found quite effective in helping alcoholics deal with their cravings to drink. Some of the more common drugs are Vivatrol, Campral and Naltrexone. There are also some studies to suggest the drug Chantix may be helpful in treating cravings. These drugs function in the portion of the brain which contains the neuro-receptors that are believed responsible for causing people to have cravings. Most of these drugs have a very high success rate with the exception of Chantix which is still in the testing phases. If you have been suffering with severe cravings to drink, speak with your doctor about these drugs and ask if any of them may be a suitable choice for you.
Proper Education About Alcohol Abuse
Most people who suffer from alcoholism have no idea what it is that happens in their minds to cause them to drink. They are not aware that a chemical reaction is occurring in the neuro-receptors in the brain which is causing them to self medicate. The more an alcoholic knows about what is happening with his/her disease and his/her brain, the better armed he/she will be to handle his/her problem. Through information comes awareness and through awareness comes action. There are many classes available and a wealth of information online designed to educate the alcoholic on the disease and its many effects on the human mind and body.
There are a few rules for the recovering alcoholic to live by and those can be best remembered for their acronym, HALT. This stands for hungry, angry, lonely and tired. If a recovering alcoholic can remember to avoid those four things at all costs, his/her chances for success will be increased 10 fold.
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