Alcohol is one of the most common beverages consumed in today’s society. Its vast popularity at various levels makes it one of the highest causes of driving fatalities, especially in the United States. Reports and statistics state that over 65 million people are struggling with alcoholism disorders. Alcohol craving is found to be the major cause of abuse and subsequent health issues such as chronic alcoholism.
What are the Alcoholic Cravings?
Alcoholic cravings are an overwhelming compulsion to drink alcoholic beverages. An active drinker, with time, loses the will to fight alcoholic cravings. Active indulgences heighten cravings as people give in to the need to keep their blood alcohol at a high level, where they can easily escape from withdrawal symptoms. However, the impact of Alcoholic cravings can be dire.
Why do cravings emerge?
There is a myriad of instances, theories, and probabilities that can manifest into alcohol cravings. The most common are:
- Emotional challenge – a state of depression or unpleasant moods can lead to repeated indulgence in alcohol to suppress these feelings. Alcohol is known for its ability to provide drinkers with elevated moods. This effect is often sort after by people who are emotionally challenged.
- Crowd Challenge – an unprecedented number of alcohol addictions began as social drinking. Participating in social events very often and consciously influenced by friends and peers, alcohol tolerance starts to increase, and it finally leads to cravings.
- Neural Challenge – the senses, in this case, have developed a binding connection between alcohol and emotional changes, this prompts even people who had undergone treatment to revert to old cravings to breach that gap.
What are the dangers of cravings and how long do they last?
Alcohol can be great for relaxation especially while socializing with friends; however, it can also become a source of health issues, ranging from mental illnesses to physical problems. Men and women are equally affected by the negative impact of cravings.
Dangers in Men
Alcohol craving in men can lead to the following
- Impairment of cognitive abilities – binge drinking has been found to destroy the nervous system leading to malfunctions, involuntary tremors, and central nervous system breakdown.
- Painful gouts – this Arthritic disease is prominent in men within the age range of 30-60
- Colon cancer – colorectal cancer is a digestive system disorder which is very severe and can lead to death.
- Cancer of the liver – a common disease related to alcohol craving is Liver Cirrhosis which stands a significant risk of developing into cancer of the liver.
- Weak erection – the loss of Libido along with infertility and other sexual reproductive issues are at an all-time high amongst perpetual drinkers.
Dangers in Women
- Infertility risks – alcohol decreases the possibility of pregnancy in women. It could also lead to a lack of ovulation (Anovulation), Hyperprolactinemia (an inhibitor of fertility with excessive production of breast milk) and Luteal Phase Defect (impaired development of endometrium)
- Complications during pregnancy – miscarriages, premature birth, fetal alcohol syndrome, and brain damage are all possible vulnerabilities of cravings in women during pregnancy.
Cravings develop into alcoholism and without alcohol counselors or drugs to stop alcohol craving, it can be a lifetime effect.
Do all Alcohol-Dependent Individuals Face Cravings?
All alcohol-dependent people face cravings in various forms; this is due to the need to maintain a certain level of alcohol in the blood. When you feel the need to drink to relax or to unwind with friends or even to reduce tension symptoms, then you are alcohol dependent. The reasonable thing to do would be to seek help on how to curb alcohol craving.
Medications Used To Cope With Alcohol Cravings
There are a few widely used medication for alcohol cravings; they have been tested and guaranteed to reduce alcohol cravings. The following medications are approved and marketed in the U.S
Medications that reduce cravings
Naltrexone – it is administered after general detoxification, as an anti-craving medication for alcohol. The drug acts to block receptors that provide the “Alcohol High” in the brain. This can effectively curb alcohol cravings.
The common side effect of Naltrexone includes tiredness, vomiting and nausea, anxiety, insomnia, and stomach cramps while the less common side effect may include constipation, palpitations, irritability, low libido in males, and loss of appetite.
Acamprosate – this alcohol craving medication can reverse the state of alcohol dependency no matter how long alcohol cravings last. It can be combined with therapy to effectively cope with relapse. The common side effects include nausea, diarrhea, drowsiness, and impaired vision, and constipation, loss of memory, headache, vomiting, flatulence, dry mouth, sweating, skin rashes, low libido, impotence, and numbness. This medication is approved for alcoholic treatment in the U.S since June 2004.
Medications that cause aversions to alcohol
Disulfiram – this drug reverses the pleasurable effect of alcohol by causing negative reactions such as vomiting, headaches, and systematic discomfort whenever a user consumes alcohol. This can be used to stop alcohol cravings.
Common side effects of Disulfiram include drowsiness, tiredness, headache, skin rash, swollen tongue, metallic taste, numbness of limbs, extreme mood swings, seizures. Absolute abstinence from alcohol is advised while on this medication.
Steps an Alcohol Addict Can Take to Reduce Cravings
Reducing alcohol cravings may not be a walk in the park due to the frequencies of alcohol craving symptoms that may follow if the user were to abstain, but besides medications to decrease alcohol cravings, there are inclinations on how to stop alcoholic cravings naturally. Some people require a more natural way to avoid drinking. Here are effective ways to escape Alcoholism.
Alcoholism triggers may vary between individuals. For some people, being at a social event may not be helpful to sobriety and for some other people; loneliness may lead to Craving a drink. Some common triggers are negative emotions, bars and drinking spots, social events, being around friends, sudden trauma, and stress.
Exercises are one of the best natural detox for alcohol abuse. Alcoholism puts great pressure on the liver, which is responsible for filtering toxins. This unnatural pressure affects the pancreas, forcing it to produce insulin at an exponential rate; this overdrive can lead to inflammation. The inflammatory response affects the digestive system and causes gastric ulcers. Exercises help to burn out fatty cholesterol stored up in the liver and provide a boost at cellular levels. Exercises help to regulate blood sugar and releases chemicals in the brain that improves mood, agility, and body functions, allowing you to live a healthier life.
Find a hobby
Daily activities and engagements could fall into this category. As simple as taking long walks having conversations with friends, indulging in sports, reading a book, and generally getting yourself involved in mental activities that disallow you to go into that state of mind that depends on alcohol.
Network with positive minds
Build a network of positive influences that would improve your self-esteem. A supportive and dedicated group of friends is a great backbone, especially in long term abstinence. Attending support groups and communicating positively helps to maintain sobriety. These are some of the best ways on how to help someone with a drinking problem.
Can Food Help Reduce Cravings?
Nutrition is one of the natural ways to curb alcohol cravings. People who stick to a healthy diet during alcohol detox processes have a better chance at complete withdrawal. Foods that stop alcohol cravings naturally include:
- Cayenne Pepper – spicing up a meal with cayenne pepper often aids in suppressing relapse warning signs such as tremors, nausea, and others. Even though this is no guarantee to complete healing, but it eases the discomfort of cravings during sobriety and detox stages.
- Low fat Protein – extreme loss of appetite is usually experienced during detox for alcohol craving due to mood changes. However, protein diets with very low fatty content can be quite helpful and ideal for energy build and mood reverse. Examples are lean beef and fish diet.
- Fruits and Vegetables – this category of diet contains high fiber and other components that easily digest without bulking up the digestive system. They also contain simple sugars which are also craved by people undergoing alcoholism detox. These fruits and Veggies detoxify, cleanse, and nourish the body. Recommended fruits include: oranges, bananas, watermelon, pear, strawberries, etc
- Grain Diet – grains are high in carbohydrates and fiber, which is essential for energy and quick recovery. They are less likely to cause digestive issues due to the high fiber content. Whole grain includes barley, brown rice, millet, whole wheat, popcorn, and Oats,
High Vitamin B Diet
You cannot list supplements to curb alcohol cravings without mentioning Vitamin B. this essential vitamin is inhibited in the system of chronic alcohol drinkers. Vitamin B provides energy, Boosts the Immune system, and regulates hormones, aids blood formation, and a whole lot of other benefits. Sources of Vitamin B include: fish, meat, cereal, vegetables, potatoes, seafood, etc.
Getting Professional Help for Alcohol Cravings
Addiction is severe and extremely difficult to overcome without proper rehabilitation. The term “rehabilitation” is a set of steps taken to reverse the effects and damages caused by alcoholism – physically, mentally, emotionally, and otherwise.
The first step to living an alcohol-free life is to seek professional assistance. Alcoholism affects your health, social life, and your loved ones negatively; it drowns you in low self-esteem and completely incapacitates the victim. It is inadvisable to try to deal with this problem alone, as this situation can greatly deteriorate. Professional healthcare advisors in alcohol rehab facilities know how to deal with alcohol cravings and are in the best position to prescribe the right drugs to curb alcohol cravings.