Recovering from alcohol addiction can be a challenging journey that requires dedication, patience, and support.
To stay on the path of sobriety, it’s important to adopt healthy habits and coping mechanisms that can help manage alcohol cravings and reduce the risk of relapse.
In this article, we’ll explore 10 effective strategies that can be used in addiction recovery.
These include limiting triggers, accountability, staying busy, getting quality sleep, forming healthy habits, using supplements, playing it forward, looking after your diet, stopping and breathing, and seeking professional help.
Incorporating these strategies into your recovery plan can help you stay focused, motivated, and successful in your journey towards sobriety.
1. Limit Triggers for Alcohol Cravings
One thing that we always encounter during early sobriety, which is often a major activator for alcohol cravings is substance cues or triggers.
These fall into four categories – Perceived opportunity, attention-allocating, stress and priming triggers.
I discuss these triggers in this article – Cravings 101: Understanding The Interesting Fundamentals of Why We Crave and in greater detail here Identifying Triggers: How to Recognize and Manage the Cues That Lead to Drinking
Limiting these triggers can help fade the grasp of addiction, moving our sobriety forward.
2. Accountability is Everything
Accountability is a core element when it comes to quitting alcohol, and sticking to it for good.
When alcohol cravings get hard, accountability ensures you have someone to reach out to, instead of your own mind and internal conflict.
Read more on the Importance of Accountability here.
If you’ve started your sober journey, but haven’t set up an accountability partner, do this now.
3. Keep Busy
When we quit alcohol, we often leave a void that leaves us a little lost and less motivated.
This void allows time for us to get lost in our thoughts, especially during early sobriety, and can increase our risk of second-guessing our addiction and hitting the relapse button.
Keeping busy, such as finding a hobby, exercising or spending more time with friends can be a crucial part of getting past the early stages of recovery.
4. Ensure Good Sleep
Optimising our sleep can be a game-changer when it comes to quitting alcohol, as getting quality sleep can improve our mood, and cognitive processing and reduce our risk of addictive tendencies (Volkow et al., 2012).
We can improve our sleep through good sleep hygiene, such as going to bed early or limiting blue light and screens before bed.
Supplements such as Magnesium can also help us promote better rest, and get to sleep faster.
Learn more about sleep supplements in this article – Supplements for Sleep: Some of the Best & Simple Natural Sleep Compounds to Get a Better Night’s Rest.
5. Form Healthy Habits
Quitting alcohol is often the first step, but if we’re not mindful of other habits of our life, we can let our addiction back in without even realising it.
I like to define most of these habits as basic foundational habits and involve staying connected, keeping nourished and well rested.
It can often sound simple, and you may already be doing most of these, but it’s always good to zoom out and see if any of your habits are negatively impacting your sobriety.
6. Use Supplements
Sometimes, when alcohol cravings seem to start getting the better of us, we can use various supplements to help.
I write more about these compounds in this article – Alcohol Cravings: 3 Supplements That May Help You Stop Drinking For Good
Supplements can be a game changer in early sobriety, so don’t hesitate to purchase some and have them on hand!
7. Play it Forward
One of the biggest things I learned from quitting alcohol, which was inspired by the podcast Recovery Elevator, is playing it forward.
This means when alcohol cravings are bubbling to the surface, or maybe you’re on the brink of purchasing some more alcohol, look forward 3 days, a week, a month.
What will the future look like in those days to come? What is the consequence? Is it really worth it or can you push through?
If you do this every time alcohol cravings get tough, your early sobriety can get much easier.
8. Look After Your Diet
There can be a significant deficiency of vitamins and minerals in early sobriety, and if it doesn’t become a priority when we quit alcohol, sobriety is much harder.
Ensuring your diet is balanced is a simple way to keep alcohol cravings out of the picture, this includes eating a range of fruit vegetables, healthy fats and anti-inflammatory foods.
9. Stop and Breathe
Something that you should do often in early sobriety is to simply stop and breathe.
Stopping and breathing, also known as mindfulness practices, can be a powerful tool in addiction recovery. Addiction often involves reacting impulsively to triggers and alcohol cravings and stopping and breathing can help individuals pause and respond more intentionally.
Stopping and breathing can also help regulate our emotions, and almost begin to shape our mindset in a more positive trajectory.
Read more about mindset in this article – Changing Your Perspective – Understanding How Your Own Mindset, Thoughts, Habits And Belief Systems Shape Your Life
10. Seek Professional Help
Always remember that professional help is available if situations get too tough.
Professional help not only provides the necessary support and guidance but also can address any underlying mental health conditions, such as depression or anxiety.
While it may be difficult to ask for help, seeking professional treatment is a brave and important step in achieving lasting recovery.
For a list of professional services, see our Seek Help page.
In early sobriety, it’s important to limit substance triggers to help fade the grasp of addiction. Accountability is key for sticking to sobriety long-term. Keeping busy and forming healthy habits can help fill the void left by alcohol. Optimal sleep can improve mood, and cognitive processing, and reduce the risk of addictive tendencies.
Supplements like Glutamine, NAC, and Magnesium can help conquer cravings. Playing it forward and looking after your diet is also important. Stopping and breathing, or mindfulness practices can help regulate emotions and shape a positive mindset. Seeking professional help, including addressing underlying mental health conditions, is a brave step in achieving lasting recovery.
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- Volkow, N. D., Tomasi, D., Wang, G.-J. ., Telang, F., Fowler, J. S., Logan, J., Benveniste, H., Kim, R., Thanos, P. K., & Ferre, S. (2012). Evidence That Sleep Deprivation Downregulates Dopamine D2R in Ventral Striatum in the Human Brain. Journal of Neuroscience, 32(19), 6711–6717. https://doi.org/10.1523/jneurosci.0045-12.2012
Former drinker, Nutritionist, Biohacking enthusiast, self-experimenter, research fanatic, and self-taught writer, Stephen immerses himself deep into the literature of human optimisation and better understand the nature of addiction. His goal is to help people take control of their addiction, reset their cravings, unscramble their broken brain circuitry and use actionable strategies that work ten times better than anything else.