While experiencing triggers and cravings during alcohol treatment can be challenging, it’s beneficial to remind yourself one thing: they are temporary. These inevitable uncomfortable sensations and feelings will eventually pass. Learning helpful tools to manage these triggers and cravings can significantly impact your treatment success.
Coping With Triggers During Alcohol Treatment
Make a Plan
Making a plan for how you will respond to triggers will help you be better prepared for them when they occur. The steps for your specific plan can be simple, such as:
- Recognizing the trigger
- Reassuring yourself that you do not have to give in to your craving
- Removing yourself from the situation
Rely On Your Support System
A strong support system is essential when dealing with triggers during alcohol treatment. Knowing you can lean on your loved ones for support is critical to your success. Let them know what you’re going through and your plans for coping. Your support system can be there for you during the most challenging times and help you face your triggers.
Engage in Hobbies
Find yourself activities that lift you up and bring you joy. This is a great way to cope with triggers when they come on strong.
These activities might include:
- reading a book
- going to the movies
- taking up a hobby
- calling a friend or sponsor
Focusing on activities you love can distract you from drinking. They are also effective healthy outlets for dealing with negative emotions and stress that may have caused you to turn to drinking in the past.
Dealing with triggers and alcohol cravings isn’t easy. But it’s doable. To truly take control of your alcohol cravings, you must first understand your motivations to drink and their underlying causes.
Cravings are an automatic reaction or response to a trigger. These triggers could be a memory that is associated with alcohol, or they could be an emotional response such as stress or frustration.
If you struggle with alcohol cravings, you may notice a combination of external and internal triggers.
A few internal triggers include:
- stress or anxiety
- physical pain or discomfort
- irritation and anger
External triggers revolve around environmental cues you link to alcohol. These environmental cues include times, places, people, and situations or circumstances. Any of these could be causing your triggers and leading to alcohol cravings.
A few external triggers include:
- arguing with a friend, colleague, or parent
- attending a party
- the end of your workday
- visiting a restaurant or bar/club where you usually drink alcohol
Strategies For Dealing With Triggers and Cravings During Alcohol Treatment
Alcohol consumption can lead to many mental and physical health issues. If you feel you are losing control over your alcohol cravings and triggers, it may be time to seek help. High-quality alcohol treatment and alcohol rehab in San Diego through BOLD Health may be your answer.
Acknowledging the Craving
When a craving for alcohol strikes, a solid first step is acknowledging it. While the alcohol craving may be intense, it will pass over time. Even within a few minutes, the cravings will lessen. In fact, they typically last for only 3 to 5 minutes.
Reminding yourself that the craving will ease on its own will make it easier to get through those crucial decision-making minutes without having a drink.
A positive distraction can help occupy your energy and thoughts. Suppose you find ways to focus your energy positively and occupy your time. In that case, you can guarantee that your alcohol cravings will subside.
One way to master this strategy against alcohol cravings is to create a list of activities, hobbies, and things you can turn to when alcohol cravings come on strong. Create the list on your phone, journal, or kitchen fridge for easy access.
A few activities to consider include:
- go for a walk by yourself or with a friend or pet.
- read a chapter in a book
- watch some funny videos
- make a snack or have some tea
- dance to some music
- clean out a drawer
- try some art or mindful coloring
- spend time on your favorite hobby
Other helpful distractions include taking a shower, calling a sober friend, or practicing meditation.
Reach out to a Friend
Having a sponsor or checking in with another person is one of the best strategies for dealing with your struggle. When you check in with a trusted member of your support system when you are tempted to drink can help you ride out the cravings effectively.
A quick 10 minutes of sharing stories and catching up on recent news can offer just enough distraction for the cravings to pass.
You might notice that you suffer from external triggers, such as tense situations that fuel your
alcohol cravings. If this sounds like you, mindfulness exercises can strengthen your awareness in the present moment and calm you down until the craving subsides.
A few ideas you could try include:
- physical activity, including yoga or stretches
- grounding techniques
- changing environments
- deep breathing
- relaxation exercises
Long-Term Strategies for Coping With Triggers and Cravings
Coping tips can offer solutions in the short term, but what about the long term? When trying to cut back on alcohol, permanently changing your relationship will require a more in-depth, calculated approach that can be learned through alcohol treatment in San Diego at BOLD Health.
Know your Triggers
Exploring the specific places, people, and situations that trigger you and trigger your alcohol cravings will make a tremendous difference in your sobriety journey. You should avoid your triggers as much as possible during the early stages of recovery since triggers are often the most intense when you first decide to stop drinking.
A few examples of avoiding triggers include:
- choosing restaurants that are “dry” and don’t serve alcohol
- changing your commute to avoid passing your favorite bar
- moving your wine rack to the basement or giving it away
- hanging out with friends at times you don’t associate with drinking
- practicing good self-care to address needs for food, sleep, water, and companionship
Of course, addressing your triggers at the source will go a long way in helping you make lasting changes. Our clinicians at BOLD Health can help you develop a plan for doing just that.
Break Bad Habits
If you have ever tried breaking a habit, you know it’s much easier said than done. Dealing with triggers is not easy, but understanding the three specific components of your habits can help you develop more strategies to overcome your alcohol cravings when they occur.
The three specific components of a habit include:
- The trigger: the first taste of anxiety before a date or an upsetting text message from a friend or family member
- The Routine: having a glass or two of wine with a friend when you get home from work or ordering drinks when you sit down for dinner
- The Reward: this is what reinforces the habit, enjoyable feelings, and satisfaction you associate with drinking.
Once you identify the triggers, routines, and rewards that keep you falling into the same habit, you can experiment with new practices that produce more fulfilling rewards without having a drink in your hand.
Seek Help Through Alcohol Therapy
If you feel you can’t kick the habit or fight your alcohol cravings, then seeking help through alcohol treatment is the right choice. Therapy with a trained mental health professional is another great way to explore long-term effective changes in alcohol use.
Through therapy, you’ll gain support through:
- exploring alternative methods of handling stress (exercise, reading, meditation)
- unpacking the needs you use alcohol to help fulfill
- identifying possible mental health symptoms or dependency issues you try to manage through alcohol use
Through therapy and alcohol treatment or alcohol rehab, your therapist will teach you new strategies and coping techniques proven to help guide you to a happier, healthier life without alcohol cravings. Through these coping mechanisms, you can refrain from negative thoughts or self-beliefs linked to alcohol cravings, which will help you handle the stress of dealing with triggers.
Choose BOLD Health for Alcohol Treatment in San Diego
Finding the perfect alcohol rehab in San Diego shouldn’t be an additional stressor. Remember, reaching out for help is not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of strength, and you should be proud that you are taking that first step toward recovery.
BOLD Health provides high-quality, individualized alcohol treatment in San Diego. Whether through alcohol detox, therapy, our intensive outpatient program, medication management, group therapy, or a combination of approaches, we will provide the best treatment designed for you and your needs. At BOLD Health, it’s safe to say we will give you the best strategies and tools to alleviate the symptoms of alcohol cravings.
You deserve freedom from alcohol addiction, and we at BOLD Health are more than happy to guide you to a happier life through care and recovery.